The title of this post says it all- this ice cream right here, is the darkest, chocolat-iest, richest ice cream in the world...or at least that I've tried. It's no secret that I find chocolate to be one of the most addicting substances that I've ever encountered, and I'm always on the hunt for treats that are richer and more chocolate-intense than their predecessors. I'm obsessed, and I've been this way for as long as I can remember. For the past few months, I've been on the prowl for chocolate ice cream. Not just any chocolate ice cream, either. I didn't want chocolate ice creams with chocolate flavor that was masked with the addition of all kinds of mix-ins- those ice creams are easy to come by. What I was searching for was simple. I wanted a pure, rich, chocolate-only ice cream, that really tasted like chocolate. It had to be intense, not too sweet, yet clearly and utterly full of deep chocolate flavor.
I tried to find this ice cream in all sorts of places. I searched the premium ice cream section of my supermarket, but none of the chocolate ice creams met my expectations. I went to several ice cream shops to sample ice creams, and while I thought their classic chocolate ice creams were good, for sure, they weren't as remarkable as the other non-chocolate ice creams I sampled before ultimately deciding to pass on a chocolate ice cream cone. I even tried chocolate soft serve from the Mister Softee truck, thinking that perhaps I was confused, and what I was really searching for was my beloved chocolate ice cream from my childhood. While the first licks of the chocolate soft serve were certainly satisfying, when I got halfway through the cone I realized that I wasn't confused, and that as good as my soft serve may have been, it was not the chocolate experience I was searching for.
Fortunately, I decided to finally order myself a copy of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home (I know, I'm only about three years late on this purchase), thinking that I would choose to make some sort of seasonal ice cream with bright flavors. While thumbing through the book and falling in love with every page and bookmarking almost every single recipe to make later, I came across an ice cream that she calls, "The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World." Immediately, without question, I knew that that was the first ice cream I would make. I needed to test if this claim, that this ice cream was the darkest chocolate ice cream in the world, was true, and I was also incredibly curious to try out Jeni's ice cream formula for myself. Those seasonal ice cream flavors I bookmarked would just have to wait.
This ice cream was it. It was everything I had been longing for in a chocolate ice cream. But before I go on, I want to talk about Jeni's ice cream method itself. One of the main reasons I wanted to get my hands on a copy of Jeni's book is because of her ice cream base- rather than using the traditional egg custard base that I'm now accustomed to, she uses an ice cream base that comes together with cream cheese, cornstarch, and light corn syrup. I couldn't imagine how those ingredients, when combined with cream, milk, and sugar, would yield the same rich custard that you get when using eggs. The answer is that Jeni's ice cream base doesn't yield the same rich egg-based custard. It doesn't even come close. Jeni's ice cream base is beyond creamy, thick, smooth, and rich; it's really amazing, actually. As I was stirring my chocolatey custard in its ice bath, I couldn't help but say over over again, "this custard is SO smooth/creamy/thick." It was honestly like nothing I had seen before. And the taste! Oh, the taste! It was decadent and intense, slightly bitter and fudgey, and it hadn't even been frozen yet. I was obsessed enough with the beautiful texture of this chocolate ice cream that I found myself legitimately staring into my ice cream machine for the last ten minutes of the churning process, completely mesmerized by how smooth the ice cream was. It was incredible.
This ice cream tasted as incredible as it looked. It was rich and indulgent, creamy and truffle-like, and it was everything I had been searching for in a real chocolate ice cream. The ice cream wasn't very sweet, which I loved, and allowed the chocolate flavor to come through intensely. To ensure that your ice cream tastes as amazing as possible, be sure to use whole milk (don't skimp out, we're going for richness here) and use the best chocolate you can find/afford. I decided to splurge a bit and got some Valrhona discs from the chocolate shop next to where I work, and I think this little splurge helped the ice cream feel extra-special. Jeni's method for making ice cream is inherently simpler than a traditional French custard based ice cream, since you don't have to worry about ending up with scrambled eggs, so I would highly recommend her recipes if you're only just starting out in making your own ice creams at home. This recipe is without a doubt my go-to recipe for whenever my intense chocolate cravings happen to strike (which is fairly often). If you love chocolate, this is an ice cream you need to make right away. Enjoy!
The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World
recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
For the Chocolate Syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (55% to 75% cacao) chopped
For the Ice Cream Base
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Begin by preparing the chocolate syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, coffee, and sugar and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar, and allow the mixture to boil for thirty seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chocolate, and allow to stand for five minutes. Whisk the syrup until smooth and then set aside.
To make the ice cream base, start by combining about two tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, warm chocolate syrup, and salt until smooth.
In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, boiling for four minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, about one minutes. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the chocolate-cream cheese mixture, whisking until smooth.
Set the bowl in an ice bath and allow the mixture to cool to about room temperature, stirring frequently and changing out the ice as needed. The mixture will be thick, creamy, and unbelievably smooth. Allow the mixture to chill in the fridge until cold, and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Alternatively, you can pour the finished ice cream base into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath for thirty minutes until cold before freezing in your ice cream maker.
Once the ice cream has been frozen, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and press a sheet of parchment paper directly on the surface of the ice cream. Seal the ice cream, and freeze until firm, about four hours.
Makes 1 generous quart of ice cream