Smooth, rich homemade chocolate ice cream, made without a machine and just a handful of ingredients. Dutch process cocoa is bloomed so that it dissolves fully into the ice cream for a deeper flavor.
Smooth, rich homemade chocolate ice cream, made without a machine and just a handful of ingredients.
Ice cream machines function to stir the ice cream base while freezing it. This is called churning; as the ice cream is freezing the particles are moved around to stop them from forming ice crystals. This is why you cannot simply take a custard and set it in the freezer – you’d just have a solid block. If you tried to scoop it, well – you simply couldn’t. So that it remains soft and creamy, the machine slowly incorporates air as it’s freezing.
Without an ice cream maker, you need to find a way to aerate the base. To do this we use what’s called a ‘no churn’ method: incorporating air before freezing. Usually this is done by whipping heavy cream with a stand mixer or hand mixer to medium to stiff peaks then stirring in the flavorings.
Your basic no churn vanilla ice cream is this: 2 cups heavy whipping cream and 1 can sweetened condensed milk. You’ll see it everywhere. The question we’re putting to task here is: how to make a chocolate no churn ice cream recipe? I’ve been exploring this for some time, starting with these ice cream pops two years ago.
Adding dark chocolate to the base can work, but it’s not going to give you as much chocolate flavor as you want, to get that you want to use pure cocoa powder. Another downside of using chocolate is that it comes with its own sugar and fat (milk and cream) which you have little control over.
Adding cocoa is the logical choice, but since you’re adding a powder into a no churn ice cream that’s supposed to dissolve into the base, it won’t taste as ‘chocolatey’ as it should because while it can look dissolved it hasn’t quite fully. It also, in my experience, gives you an almost powdery, sort of dry ice cream. We don’t want that.
So this year when I set out to test a chocolate version for my mason jar ice cream, I decided I’d do what we did for these dark chocolate marshmallows, bloom the cocoa.
Have you noticed how so many chocolate cake recipes have you adding boiling hot water to the batter? This is done to bloom the cocoa.
Blooming the cocoa does two important things to our homemade ice cream: dissolves the powder better and brings out the deep chocolate flavor.
You need to things to bloom: something hot, and something liquid. If you’ve made my brownies before you’ve already done this when you combined the cocoa with the hot melted butter.
For the mason jar ice cream recipe I use water to bloom the cocoa, it turns it into a paste and we proceed. For this no churn recipe, I found that when I made with water was on the icy side. I decided to add some more fat, but not enough that would change the chemistry of our basic no churn.
So for this recipe, you’ll bloom the cocoa powder (please make it dutch!) with milk, chill it and then proceed to make a super easy no churn chocolate ice cream.
Cocoa: Dutch or dutched process cocoa will give you a deep, rich chocolate taste. I don’t recommend natural, the chocolate taste is quite faint. Black cocoa will work, if you know you like it! Use a good quality brand.
Milk: I used whole milk but you can also use some dairy-free options.
Sweetened condensed milk: No substitutes here, this is the foundation of a no churn ice cream. You’ll find this sold in a can. There are non-dairy options which are coconut based.
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream will both do. Half & Half doesn’t have enough fat in it to whip thick. Milk certainly will not work. If you are aiming for a dairy-free version, look for coconut cream an chill the can before whipping.
Salt & vanilla: Use fine sea salt and a good quality pure vanilla extract.
Mix the cocoa with the milk and sweetened condensed milk and set over medium-low heat. Stir as it heats and begins to cook. Do this on a stove in a pot, cook until the mixture starts to steam.
Pour it into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any lumps. Then we’ll let this chill.
Remember! Whipping cream needs to be cold in order for it to form peaks so you cannot add something hot and then try to whip. The chocolate and milk mix needs to be cool or cold.
Once it’s cool, we’ll combine the cocoa and sweetened condensed milk mixture with the heavy cream, salt and vanilla, and we’ll whip to medium peaks. You can do this with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Traditionally we’d whip the heavy cream first and then add the chocolate mixture but I find you can do it all at once (and then you won’t have to deal with the slow process of folding the whipped cream into the chocolate).
Getting to medium peaks can take time, with a hand mixer it might take between 5-7 minutes. In a stand mixer it will happen quicker.
Pour the mix into an airtight container. I like using old pho containers when I’m making the ice cream for us, but for photography I use a loaf pan and cover it with plastic wrap.
Stick it in the freezer. After about 8 hours the ice cream will be solid and difficult to scoop, as you’d expect with any ice cream. Give it 5 minutes at room temperature and you’ll be able to scoop some very creamy, wonderfully chocolaty ice cream.
It probably wasn’t cold! Warm cream won’t whip. Make sure it’s fully chilled. Some people like to chill the bowl and whisk before whipping cream, I’d only do this if my kitchen was particularly hot that day.
Coconut products will help here: coconut cream (chill the can in the fridge before whipping), coconut condensed milk and swap the milk with any dairy-free milk like oat milk or almond milk.
You can use a cake pan and cover it with plastic wrap (press it onto the ice cream so it doesn’t get freezer burn). Mine mostly fit in a loaf pan (the rest went into a mason jar) but a 9inch round pan would do, or even a 9×13 sheet pan. Alternatively, use something plastic and airtight.
Cookie Dough Chunks: Mix together 2 tablespoons melted butter, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, splash of vanilla, pinch of salt and ¼ cup flour. Before adding the flour, toast it in an oven preheated to 350 for 5 minutes to make it safe to eat. Stir in ¼ cup mini chocolate chips. Place teaspoon sized bits of dough on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze before adding to to the ice cream.
Brownie Bits: Make these emergency brownies but with brown sugar and chop into dice sized bits. Add before freezing.
Marshmallows: for a no churn rocky road variation I’d use dehydrated marshmallows and toast the nuts, then chill them before adding to the whipped base.
Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam