Punchinello’s Chronicles

February 13, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream Philadelphia Style

We found a treasure! Yup, we were out wandering through various resale shops around here and found a Krups 1.5 quart ice cream maker in like-new condition for about $20. Of course we had to buy that because ice cream is one of the ten major food groups. It came with an instruction manual and also a book about ice cream, so we went to work. The first thing we wanted to make was chocolate ice cream. Not so easy!

Regular chocolate ice cream Philadelphia style recipeWe went everywhere online, and couldn’t find a simple, easy-to-follow recipe that actually worked. The first few batches weren’t so good, because we tried those recipes. But we finally got it all figured out. We particularly wanted chocolate macadamia-nut ice cream, since we found Ben & Jerry had a pint of that, but it vanished pretty quickly after we saw it.

The key to making ice cream is that the freezer container really does have to be at zero degrees. We’d thought that since it’s Illinois and winter, we’d just leave it outside on the porch. Nope. It gets down to 10 degrees, but that’s not the same as Zero. Only a freezer guarantees that the container actually does freeze. Without it being zero, the milk-and-cream “base” won’t properly freeze. That was our first batch failure.

The next failure we had was that we didn’t understand the difference between Heavy cream and Whipping cream. There’s also Heavy Whipping cream, Half & Half, and plain Whole milk. (There’s no way we’d use skim or 2% milk since that’s for communists!) It comes down to the amount of butter fat in each type of liquid. Whipping (or Light) cream works the best. Heavy cream never really freezes solid, and it also leaves a bit of cream after-taste.

We learned the difference between New York style and Philadelphia style ice cream. Philadelphia doesn’t require eggs or egg yolks, so you don’t have to putz around making a custard. However; Philadelphia style DOES still require that you bring the milk-cream to a simmer. Especially when you’re making chocolate, since you want the sugar and chocolate to dissolve into a real suspension. We didn’t notice any difference at all, going with Philadelphia style, but we figure we’ll try the New York style custard, just to see how annoying it is to make.

Most ice cream makers seem to be around 1 quart, so the below recipe is for that. But since we have a 1.5 quart, we added more Half & Half and that worked nicely. Also, since there’s only milk and cream and no solids, it was done in about 35 minutes. With solids, like raspberry or strawberry ice cream, we let it run about 45 minutes.

The “base” is the mixture of cream and milk, sugar and flavor. It takes 2 days to really make excellent ice cream, because you want to leave the freezing compartment in the freezer overnight. So this isn’t really a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. But the results are so good it’s worth it. Aside from the freezing container, you also want the base to cool down in the fridge. As Alton Brown tells us, that allows for mini-ice crystals to begin forming, which leads to a smoother ice cream.

When you’ve made the ice cream, you’ll still want to put it into containers and then freeze it in the freezer overnight. Yes, you can eat the “soft” ice cream that comes out of the machine, but it’s not at all like Häagen-Dazs (our benchmark). Definitely let it sit in the freezer overnight. Also, put some plastic wrap between the ice cream and the container lid. That keeps moisture away from the ice cream and it won’t get those white frost crystals.

Chocolate Ice Cream – Basic

1 Pint (2 cups) Whipping Cream (or Light Cream)

1-1/4 Cup Whole Milk

8 Tablespoons UNsweetened Chocolate Cocoa Powder

2/3 – 3/4 Cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt.


Contrary to popular discussion, the way your liquids taste when they’re simmering is pretty darn close to the way your ice cream will finally taste. It’s true that ice cream gets slightly LESS sweet when it’s frozen, but not all that much. That’s why you can vary the sugar between 2/3 Cup and 3/4 Cup. We prefer slightly less sweet, but it’s up to you. Don’t forget the salt! It really brings out the flavor!

We found that regular Hershey cocoa powder was excellent! We also tried Trader Joe’s. Any good-quality cocoa will work just fine. Then, we thought we’d like extra dark. So we mixed in some Hershey Special Dark powder. Jeez, was THAT chocolatey! But it was a bit too much. So if you want darker, my recommendation is that you use 6 TBsp of cocoa, and 2 TBsp of special dark.

1.5 Quart Machines

We found that the above recipe didn’t make enough for us, so we added some Half & Half. To make it come out right, we reduced the Whole milk. The more “water” in the base, the harder the ice cream will freeze. Since our benchmark is commercial ice cream, we wanted it hard to scoop so it wouldn’t melt in the dish as we were finishing up.

1 Pint Whipping Cream
3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Half & Half

And then the rest is the same, although you may want to definitely go with 3/4 cups of sugar.


  1. Measure the cocoa powder into a 2-quart saucepan.
  2. Slowly add the milk to make a “slurry” and dissolve the cocoa powder nicely in the milk.
  3. Use medium heat and begin warming up the milk. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon to keep milk from scalding to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add in the sugar and stir that until it’s dissolved.
  5. Add in the Whipping cream, vanilla, and salt.
  6. Stir regularly until it begins to simmer.

You’ll know that the mixture is about to simmer when steam rises from the surface and you can just begin to see frothy bubbles forming around the edge of the saucepan.

Taste the mixture off the spoon to see if you think you want a bit more sugar. If not, then when it reaches a simmer, remove from the stove. Pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

The bowl you use should be light enough that you can pour the cooled liquid base into your ice cream machine. Most of them have some sort of cover to hold the stirring blade. We bought a 2-quart measuring “cup” type of bowl for cake batters, and that has a nice little spout. That makes it easy to pour into the machine.


When you take the freezing container out of the freezer, it’s frickin’ COLD! So attach the stirring blade to the motor before putting the lid on the freezing unit. Then, when you do place the lid on, turn the power on right away so the blade doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the freezing unit.

When you’ve poured in the cream base, let the machine run for about 30-40 minutes. The base will start getting thick, and begin to look like cookie dough. Don’t put in your solids until the end.

We like to add 100 grams of macadamia nuts, and we stir them in at the end. Remember, your ice cream will initially have the consistency of cookie dough so you can easily stir it around. We use a flat wooden spoon because a rubber spatula can’t handle the frozen cream along the sides of the freezing unit.

We also found that whole macadamia nuts freeze really, really solid! That’s hard on the teeth, so we took the time to cut them in half. It seems like you’ll want to put in as many nuts as you would chocolate chips in cookie dough. Not too many, but enough to get a bite of nuts each time. We also are going to try salted nuts. We bought some unsalted roasted nuts at Trader Joe’s, but their flavor almost gets lost in the ice cream.

For things like raspberry, peach or strawberry ice cream you can stir in your pieces of fruit at the end the same way. They won’t “sink” since you have some pretty thick ice cream already.

Generic Ice Cream Base

The above recipe, minus the cocoa powder makes an excellent generic cream base. Alton Brown (once again) tells us that you can substitute preserves for sugar in a 1:1 ratio. So for raspberry ice cream, we chose 1 Cup (a small jar) of seedless raspberry jam. We’ll use the same for peach. However; since actual pieces of strawberries and raspberries are a bit tart, we add 1/4 cup of sugar to the mix. The preserves already have sugar in them, but the extra sugar helps overcome “too tart.”

Using the 2-to-1 ratio of Whipping Cream to Whole Milk works very well. It’s only the type of sugar that changes for flavors other than chocolate. Since cocoa has no “bulk,” and vanilla ice cream has no solids, that’s why you may want to experiment with some extra Half & Half if you have the larger, 1.5 quart machine.

All in all, this is some seriously good stuff, Maynard! It ends up making about 2 pints, so we don’t really save any money. But we DO get to mess with our own mixtures and flavors. And it’s a lot of fun, waiting for the ice cream to be done! Also, we can play with things like peach-mango, raspberry-strawberry and vanilla-chocolate-swirl.

Y’know those little tiny plastic cups with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup in them? They taste awful! But with some small Rubbermaid, Glad or Ziploc 1-cup containers, we can make our own. Just swirl in some chocolate syrup after scooping the soft ice cream into the small containers.

You can find lots of OTHER kinds of recipes for ice cream, but it seemed to us that it was hard finding a plain chocolate ice cream recipe.

Oh, and by the way…you can use unsweetened pieces of hard chocolate, melted into the base if you want. But keep in mind that solid chocolate has cocoa butter, so that’ll affect the final result. It’ll tend to be a bit more like a fudge texture, rather than plain old regular ice cream. Don’t use semi-sweet as that’ll throw off the sugar proportions. At least, don’t use them until you’ve made at least one batch of ice cream that you’re really happy with.



  1. Can you use chocolate milk at all??

    Comment by Judy — September 24, 2010 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  2. You probably could, but you’d have to figure out a new recipe. Chocolate milk has a fair amount of sugar on its own, so that would change the amount of plain sugar added to the base. Also, in order to get a nice rich chocolate flavor, you likely would end up using more milk and less cream. The final result, I’m thinking would be less creamy and less rich.

    All the recipes we looked at and tried render a fine, rich, creamy ice cream with a deep and rich chocolate flavor. To get that amount of flavor really does, I believe, require adding chocolate as a separate ingredient.

    Comment by Punchinello — September 25, 2010 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

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