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When I was around 8, my brother Andrew won a bicycle from a drawing at Baskin Robbins. It wasn’t just any bike though; it was a brown, pink and white polka dot bike. Super cool for a 12 year old boy, right? Famous for their 31 flavors of ice cream, my family helped keep that place in business with our frequent trips. Mint chocolate chip ice cream cakes were birthday favorites, but I especially loved those little clown cups they had, with the scoop of ice cream decorated with that totally amazing super sugary icing topped with a cone hat. Do you remember those? Do they still make them? If they do, I have to take my kids.
Well, that bike sat in the garage for years, and sadly I have no idea whatever happened to it. (I can only imagine what it would go for on ebay these 3 plus decades later!) But I do know what’s happened to my love of ice cream: it’s grown. And there’s no chance of it disappearing the way that polka dot beauty did.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I have a thing for chocolate. If my first ever post about chocolate cake didn’t give it away, maybe the chocolate almond frosting clued you in. And if you still missed it, the chocolate milk hopefully made it pretty obvious. Then there were the brown butter chocolate chip cookies, the brown butter brownies with dark chocolate chunks, and of course the chewy sesame granola bars with dark chocolate. (Are you noticing a theme?) So it might surprise you to know that I’ve never been a huge chocolate ice cream fan. As someone who strongly believes the darker the chocolate the better, I feel like most chocolate ice creams just aren’t chocolaty enough.
But the beauty of making something at home, from scratch, is that you can make it any way you like. Not only can you use “the good stuff” (high quality bittersweet chocolate,) but you can also decide how much of it you want. After trying several recipes for chocolate ice cream over the years, the closest I came to happy was a recipe I found in David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop.” But even then, it wasn’t intense enough for me, and left me wanting. (But seriously, his book is amazing. The Mango Sorbet, Mocha Sherbert, Strawberry Sorbet, and his Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream are reason enough to buy it.) So, doing as I do, I played around until I found my dream combination. I reduced the sugar, increased the cocoa powder, changed the balance of chocolate in the custard mix, threw in some almond extract, and of course added chocolate chunks.
This alone was enough for me. But then one day, I thought, “Hey, don’t I have some leftover chocolate cake in the freezer?” And it was game over. I hit my chocolate ice cream nirvana. Crumbled up bites of my favorite cake mixed in, with slivers of Ghiradelli chocolate laced throughout the deepest darkest chocolate ice cream. I served it to company, and there was silence in the room as everyone devoured it.
A week later, it was my sister-in-law’s birthday, and instead of shopping for a present I made a batch just for her, wrapped up with a bow. The following day, I received an email with the subject line: OMFG. My heart skipped a beat, worried that something terrible had happened, but when I opened up the message it said, “Is there a way to name it OMFG ice cream? Because that is actually what goes through my head with every bite.” I have to say I feel the same way.
So if you have never made ice cream before, this is a fool proof place to start. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Ice cream makers aren’t a huge investment, and the return on happiness is huge. My instructions below assume you have never done this, and I spell it all out for you in the simplest way possible. And with Valentine’s day just around the corner, consider this Extra Dark Chocolate Ice Cream as the perfect gift. I don’t often make much of this particular occasion, but I will never pass up an opportunity to share and enjoy chocolate. Flowers, jewels, and fancy restaurants may be the expected route for some, but this homemade bit of love is guaranteed to hit straight to the heart.