Best Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Cook’s Notes: This week is all about comfort food. One of my best friends is fighting cancer, and we’re on her care team. Nothing says comfort like dark chocolate ice cream, made from scratch with a homemade custard. Be sure to use fine quality dark chocolate: I’ve made this ice cream with both Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate (6 squares of a 100 g bar or 60 g) and Hershey’s 65% Cacao Reserve Extra Dark Chocolate (2 x 1.3 oz bars or 72 g). Both versions are superb.

2 c whole milk
3/4 c granulated sugar, plus 2 T (divided)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 c unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 to 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Bring whole milk and 1/4 c plus 2 T sugar to 175 degrees in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, use an electric stand mixer to beat remaining 1/2 c sugar with yolks until mixture turns pale yellow and thickens so that it falls in ribbons, about 2 minutes. Beat in cocoa powder until mixture is smooth.

Slowly beat 1/2 c hot milk from pan into yolk mixture. Pour this mixture back into saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until custard reaches 175°F on a thermometer and coats the back of a spoon. Custard is thick enough when a line drawn through it on the back of a spoon holds for several seconds.

Remove saucepan from heat; strain custard into a plastic bowl with a lid. Add chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate to the hot custard and stir constantly until chocolate melts. Whisk in heavy cream and vanilla.

Cool custard to room temperature. Seal container and refrigerate until custard is cold, about 4 to 8 hours.

Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze as directed. Makes 1.25 quarts (5 cups)

Recipe sources:

Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition (2006)
Cook’s Illustrated, 7/1993

Note: The two recipes are almost identical. However, The Joy of Cooking recommends less sugar, 3/4 c sugar total: 1/2 c sugar with the milk and 1/4 c sugar with the egg yolks. Cook’s Illustrated adds 2 additional egg yolks.