This may be the best version of a milk chocolate ice cream that I've ever had. It's definitely chocolate-forward, and plenty rich, but it really lets the milkiness of lower cocoa chocolates shine. Should you want to branch out to peanut butter chocolate swirls, rocky roads, or chocolate brownie chunk ice creams, this should be your base.
What Worked: Even with mild Hershey's cocoa, this recipe produced a beautifully rich, very chocolaty ice cream. I can only imagine how wonderful it would taste with higher quality stuff.
What Didn't: The recipe as written requires unnecessary work. It has you make a slurry with the cocoa, milk, and cream, then heat it, then temper your egg yolks in a separate bowl, then return everything to a saucepan. I'm all for careful technique, but if you're just cooking your custard up and don't need to heat the dairy for any longer than it takes to cook the eggs, this step just wastes time and fills the sink with bowls to wash.
Suggested Tweaks: Instead, whisk your egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa together directly in your saucepan, and add milk slowly as the recipe directs until you get a smooth paste. Slowly whisk in the rest of your dairy and cook the custard all at once. It'll come together in half the time.
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- Yield:makes about 1 quart
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 hour, plus chilling time (2 hours to overnight)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder, measured then sifted
- 1 cup 1% or 2% milk
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside.
In a heavy stainless steel pan, combine the cocoa powder with the remaining sugar (6 tablespoons). Whisk in about 1/4 cup of the milk to make a paste, adding a little more of the milk as needed to make it smooth and uniform. (If you add the milk all at once, it will be lumpy.) Whisk in the remaining milk, the cream, and salt and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture from the bowl back into the pan.
Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the container into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
To Freeze: Add the vanilla to the base and stir until blended. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least four hours.