Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Homemade Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe with Coconut Sugar & Agave

This summer, I am on a quest to make the best homemade chocolate ice cream possible. I pulled out the ice cream maker that has been in the back of the cupboard for, ahem, seven years and decided it was time to make my own, with simple, natural ingredients.

I first tried a recipe that included egg yolks and a lot of cream, but I wasn't sold on it. I wanted a recipe that had a nice consistency and a little creaminess, but yet required no high-cholesterol egg yolks or worries that the eggs would not be fully cooked. I also found the recipe too creamy.

So I searched through all of my recipe books until I found the Sicilian Chocolate Gelato recipe in Bitter Sweet, a book and life-story written by Alice Medrich*.  The recipe used only milk (not cream) and called for cornstarch as the thickener. It truly was perfect: a bitter dark chocolate taste and a lovely texture. And right out of the ice cream maker, it was soft and absolutely delicious. But me being, well, me, I began to make changes to the recipe.

So if the recipe was so perfect, why would I need to change it? For starters, I have cut back on my sugar intake recently; I often replace cane sugar in recipes with substitutions such as organic coconut sugar and agave. The other reason was, that although I liked the lower-fat version Alice Medrich created, I wanted just a touch more of a creamy taste to balance the bitterness of the cocoa.

So first I tried the recipe with coconut sugar as a replacement for cane sugar.  That was a bit too bitter.  So then I tried the recipe with only agave as the sugar replacement. I found that the syrup burned quickly to the bottom of the pot (I spent 3 days scrubbing the blackened parts off of the inside of the pot!).  Although the resulting ice cream had a lovely burnt caramel flavour, it was a bit too sweet from the agave.

So I decided to split the sugars and use half agave and half coconut sugar. Then I remembered that I always prefer chocolate chips, chunks, or crunch in my ice cream, so I added some homemade 'stone-ground' style chocolate that I ground in the blender (see recipe here) sweetened with only coconut sugar. This added a chocolate and nibby crunch which was nice. I also switched out a half cup of milk for a half cup of cream, to add a bit more creaminess.

The result was still a bitter dark chocolate gelato, with a creamy texture and a wonderful crunch. Here is my recipe so you too can enjoy this 'healthy ice cream' treat! You'll need an ice cream maker, like my simple Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream Maker. But don't worry, they are not pricy.  And stay tuned this summer, as I experiment with more homemade chocolate ice cream recipes (with and without the ice cream maker)!

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Homemade Chocolate Chunks:
For a simple ice cream machine for home use.

You need:
  • 2.5 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 1/4 oz melted stone-ground chocolate or homemade bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar (see recipe here), chopped
  1. Pour your milk and cream into a pot.
  2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, or better, use an immersion blender or hand mixer for easier mixing. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer lightly for five minutes.
  3. Pour into a bowl and cover. Let cool in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours (until cold). Be sure to freeze the ice cream maker bowl at this time too!
  4. Just before you start your ice cream maker, place your chocolate in a dry, heat-proof bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Pour the ice cream into the top of the ice cream maker and then let run for about 20 minutes. 
  6. At the 17 minute mark, drizzle your melted chocolate slowly into the top of the ice cream maker.
  7. Once mixed for 1 minute more, turn off the ice cream maker and scrape it out with a silicon spatula or plastic scraper (to prevent scratching of the ice cream maker bowl) into an airtight container.  You can consume the soft ice cream immediately or freeze until hard.

Peanut Butter Option:
For a creamier consistency and smooth texture, add 1/2 cup peanut butter to the ice cream in the last few minutes in the ice cream machine. It has a dark chocolate-and-peanut butter taste, and it is much creamier in texture!

*The original recipe is called Sicilian Chocolate Gelato on page 88 of Alice Medrich's book, published in 2003 by Artisan, A Division of Workman Publishing, Inc.


  1. Sounds delicious! and I find too that splitting the sugars/sweeteners in 1/2 eg coconut sugar with another sugar (cane or date/maple sugar) it tastes better...

    1. I think we are sisters from another mother Janice! You seem to think the same way I do :-) I can't find beet sugar here, or date sugar and it has been difficult to get granulated maple sugar since Costco stopped selling bags of it (despite living in the land of maple!). I need to start buying online for those and trying them out. I didn't even realize that date sugar existed! Thanks!

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  5. Thank for sharing this recipe. Your home made dark chocolate ice cream is looking very delicious. I will also try it for me. I hope it will be delicious like your Chocolate ice-cream.

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  10. Great idea! I made an ice cream that I believed to be the closest to Haagen Dazs I've ever made. They key component was Condensed milk. Yours look even darker than mine!
    I'll try to replace white sugar in mine with coconut sugar.

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