We L-O-V-E ice cream. About six months ago Sarah asked me if I’d made a chocolate ice cream for Primal Plate’s blog yet. I reminded her that I had, albeit a No-Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream version rather than one made from just pure chocolate. It obviously hadn’t satisfied Sarah’s need because ever since she came back from holidaying in Tuscany (12 years ago!), she’s been raving about the Italian-style ‘cioccolato gelato’ that she just couldn’t get enough of whilst she was there.
As Valentine’s day is just a couple of days away and I’ve heard dark chocolate is literally good for your heart, I thought I’d try and replicate the intensely-flavoured, Italian chocolate ice cream that Sarah still vividly remembers. It was a labour of love. My brief was lots of rich, lingering chocolatey flavour, just the right amount of smoothly soothing creaminess and no sugary aftertaste. It sounds like the perfect combination for a delicious keto dessert, but this one didn’t come easy.
Behind scenes, every new recipe I develop for Primal Plate takes at least three to four hours experimentation before I’m satisfied it works and is worthy of posting. To say I’m demoralised when I spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen and a small fortune on ingredients with nothing delicious to show for it, is an understatement. My first attempt at making Tarfuto Gelato (Italian for chocolate truffle ice cream) whilst carefully following a recipe in a well-known cookery book, turned out to be a rock-hard, grainy, under-sweetened, frozen ‘clod’ of inedible ice!
Usually, when I’m following someone else’s recipe, I instinctively know when something isn’t going to work and how to put it right, but on this occasion my cook’s intuition had gone ‘bye-byes’. In retrospect, the recipe was so ill-conceived and poorly written, I didn’t stand a chance. Sarah and John are always a little more forgiving of my foodie sorties into the unknown and nobly volunteered to eat the damn stuff, but most of it ended up where it belonged…in the bin.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Once chocolate ice cream was on Sarah’s ‘radar’, there was no turning back. Almost defeated, but not quite, I decided that if I was going to succeed in my quest to make The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream I’d better go ‘belt and braces’ and buy myself a decent cook’s thermometer. Another sixty-five quid to add to the mounting costs of chocolate ice cream hell!
As things turned out, it was a good call. Whilst I waited for my luxury digital-probe thermometer to arrive, I tentatively but radically altered everything I knew was wrong with the previous recipe and in one fell swoop came up with The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream. For a health-driven food blogger, nothing feels as good as making healthy sweet! Because what’s more Primal than to seek out the sweet taste of sugar like your forebears did? It’s an instinct that’s hardwired into our DNA. The problem is that sugar is no longer the rare and lucky find that thousands of years ago provided our ancestors with the calories their bodies desperately needed to keep moving and to survive times of famine. Today, sugar is the edible enemy that will mostly likely kill you. Not only have we inherited the sugar-craving gene, it’s thanks to Big Food (along with Big Agri, Big Pharma and the likes of Slimmer’s World) who know exactly how to exploit our biological need for sweet, that there’s now sugar, sugar everywhere in the processed foods they peddle, and lots of overweight and sick people to show for it.
Mass-produced ice cream made from milk powder, water, refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours, stabilisers, emulsifiers and “substances of plant and synthetic origin” may have the taste and texture of sweetened, aerated cardboard and be a serious health hazard, but at least it’s not a sheep in wolf’s clothing. What really gets my goat is Ben & Jerry’s ‘premium’ ice cream. They’d have you believe that it’s worth paying extra for their all-natural, “Caring Dairy” “Fair trade” environmentally responsible ice cream, but surprise, surprise, they’re not for real. Their reputation has been built on a cynical global marketing ‘game of pretence’ that creates the impression, amongst others, that the milk they source for their ice cream comes from cows that are allowed outside to graze on grass. The truth is that Ben & Jerry’s uses the same milk as most other commercial ice cream manufacturers. It comes from intensive dairy farms where anxious cows are kept in close confinement for their entire (short) lives and fed a diet of soy and grains that their digestive systems simply can’t cope with.
Poison ice cream anybody? Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream is not what it seems. As well as containing whacky ingredients such as wheat flour, soybean oil, carageenan, guar gum, Dutched cocoa (alkalised to make it taste less bitter) and six teaspoons of refined sugar per 100 grams (Yikes! That’s the maximum recommended daily sugar allowance for women in just one-half cup serving) it also likely comes with its own sundae topping of pesticide! Here’s what the Organic Consumer’s Association (OCA) has to say about their “Roundup-Ready” ice cream. So far as I know, Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s still haven’t cleaned up their act and gone organic and for that reason, as they say, I’m out.
For me, ’The Most Important Thing’ is to show you how to nourish yourself and the people you love with real food that makes everyone want to do a happy dance. To this end, The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream is chock-full of organic ‘superfood’ ingredients - high percentage dark chocolate, pastured egg yolks, full-fat grass-fed milk and cream. I think it goes above and beyond the call of duty to eat well and stay slim. It’s so deliciously indulgent, people who want to lose weight, might think of it as food anarchy! How else do you think Sarah and I maintain a dress size 6? It’s not by restricting what we eat - although when you ‘go keto' you can easily intermittently fast for more than 18 hours without even realising you’ve not eaten - It’s all about never feeling deprived of the things you love to eat.
Nothing is more powerful than when you combine care with eating wonderful food. Add to that the emotional response people have to chocolate and ice cream (especially Sarah!), and it’s probably true to say that nothing speaks the language of love more eloquently than this sublime, home-made, chocolate ice cream. It’s so much more than just food…it’s the sweetness and light of the pleasure principle that our ancestors lived by and that a part of us can never forget.
Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream (serves 8)
375ml organic whole milk
3 large organic egg yolks
100g non-GMO erythritol
1 tsp vanilla extract , optional
40g organic dark chocolate (minimum 75% cocoa solids, but I used 85%), finely chopped
If you're not using ready-made chocolate ‘drops’ (as listed in ingredients above) snap or chop the chocolate into small pieces, then place in a heavy-based saucepan with the milk.
Heat gently, stirring until completely smooth. Do not let the mixture boil.
Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
Using an electric hand whisk, beat the erythritol and egg yolks together in a heatproof mixing bowl until pale and thick.
Heat 5cm of water in a saucepan that your mixing bowl will comfortably sit on top of without allowing any steam to escape at the sides (you don’t want to burn your hand when stirring the custard base!).
Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and erythritol, beat vigorously then set the bowl on top over the top of a pan of barely simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
Cook the custard, regularly stirring so it doesn’t catch on the base or sides of the bowl until it thickens into a smooth custard that thickly coats a metal spoon (this can take up to 20 minutes). If you’re using a thermometer to check the temperature, it should reach about 85℃ / 185℉. Whatever you do, don’t allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.
Remove the pan from the heat. Sit the base of the mixing bowl in a few inches of cold water until the mixture is completely cold, stirring occasionally.
Once cooled, add the vanilla extract and strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, then cover and refrigerate.
When the mixture is completely chilled, beat the cream and alcohol into the chocolate mixture.
Churn in an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until it is the consistency of whipped cream (about 20-25 minutes).
About 5 minutes before it’s ready, mix in the 40 grams of finely chopped chocolate and continue churning until set.
Quickly scrape into a glass freezer-proof box, level the surface and cover with waxed or greaseproof paper and a lid.
Serve within 2 hours.
If frozen solid, take the ice cream out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you intend to serve it to let it soften enough for scooping.
I prefer to use a metal mixing bowl to make ice cream because it transfers heat and cold more quickly. You can use a glass bowl but it will take longer to cook and cool your custard.
Whilst I recommend you get a cook’s thermometer to make The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream, it doesn’t need to be a fancy-pants version like the one I bought. This digital thermometer was my second choice and I think it will serve you just as well.
Although I didn’t find Pacari's professional organic chocolate couverture drops in time for this recipe, I’m really tempted to test them out. Perhaps a vegan version of The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream made with Pacali’s 85% chocolate drops, coconut milk and cream already beckons!
I added vodka to this recipe to try to stop it from setting too hard, but I’m not sure if I added enough for it make much difference. After 24 hours in the freezer, it took about 40 minutes to get to the right consistency for scooping. Anyway, please don’t include alcohol if you’re serving this ice cream to children - just make sure your freezer temperature isn’t below -18℃ / 0℉
I chose to use organic A2 pasteurised milk for this recipe rather than the raw, organic grass-fed milk we prefer to drink because it has to be heated anyway to make the base custard. If you normally suffer discomfort after consuming regular A1 milk, you might find that you can tolerate A2 milk perfectly well.
Fat 36g Protein 6g Carbohydrate 13g - per serving