Made with a combination of cocoa powder and dark chocolate, this ice cream is rich and stretchy, with a big chocolate flavor. But there’s more: it’s swirled with a dark caramel and slivers of toasted almonds (if you’re a chocolate purist, feel free to ditch the add-ins). The key to its success is to use the best quality cocoa powder and chocolate possible. For both cocoa and chocolate, I prefer Valrhona and Guittard brands, but if you’re limited to what the supermarket carries, Lindt will do nicely, too.
Makes about 1 quart
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream:
- 2 cups (464 grams) heavy cream, divided
- ¼ cup (28 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona or Guittard)
- ½ cup (85 grams) finely chopped premium bittersweet chocolate (60%)
- 1 cup (242 grams) whole milk
- 1 cup (200 g/7 oz) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.8 g/0.03 oz) salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons (8 g/0.28 oz) vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (44 grams) water
- 3 tablespoons (61 grams) light corn syrup
- ¾ cup (174 grams) heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (60 grams) slivered almonds
Make the ice cream base:
- In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the cream and the cocoa powder. Place over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
- In the same small saucepan you just used (no need to clean it), combine the remaining ½ cup cream, the milk and ½ cup of the sugar. Place over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining ¼ cup sugar vigorously until well blended. Continue to heat the milk mixture, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon and reaches 185°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl containing the chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Fill a large bowl one-third of the way with ice water and place the bowl of custard into the bowl. Allow the custard to chill in the ice bath, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes. Remove the bowl of custard from the ice bath and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the custard for at least 6 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
Make the caramel:
- In a clean, heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, gently stir together the sugar, water and corn syrup. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture starts to color around the edges. Gently swirl the pan to ensure that the sugar caramelizes evenly. Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep amber. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and very slowly and carefully add the cream (the mixture will bubble up furiously), stirring with a silicone spatula until smooth. If there are any hardened bits of caramel sticking to the bottom of the pan, place the pan over medium-low heat and stir until they are dissolved. Gently stir in the salt. Set the pan aside and allow the caramel to cool completely. Once cool, transfer to a lidded jar, put the lid on, and set aside at room temperature until needed.
Toast the almonds:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Scatter the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool completely.
Process the ice cream:
- Process the chilled chocolate custard in an ice cream machine according the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Spoon half of the ice cream into a loaf pan or long ice cream container (such as this one) and smooth it into an even layer. Spoon 4 or 5 dollops of the caramel evenly over the top, and then sprinkle with half of the almonds. Use a butter knife to swirl the caramel in the ice cream once or twice. Repeat the layering and swirling with the remaining ice cream, more of the caramel and the remaining almonds. Cover the ice cream and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. Reserve the remaining caramel to drizzle on top of the ice cream, if you like.