Chocolate & Cocoa Powder
Ice Cream |
with xanthan gum

Chocolate & Cocoa Powder Ice Cream | with xanthan gum

1 February, 2022


© 2022 Biterkin

For this chocolate ice cream, we use both cocoa powder AND chocolate. Although you can make chocolate ice cream by using only cocoa powder or only chocolate, there is nothing like combining the two together. The chocolate flavour and mouthfeel achieved is superb and a far cry from the store-bought stuff.

In this recipe, we use chocolate/couverture with 70-74% cocoa solids, but at the end of this page, you will also find the links for other cocoa solids % chocolates. These recipes use the same method and ingredients, with minor adjustments in the quantities to achieve the same perfect chocolate intensity. 

Xanthan gum is a stabiliser that thickens the ice cream mixture, creating ice cream with a lovely body that churns beautifully, melts uniformly during serving, and keeps well in the freezer. 

Xanthan gum is not the only gum available on the market; other gums are also available, e.g. carob gum and locust bean gum. Each gum plays a different role in ice cream making, so they are usually combined to achieve the desired texture. The problem is that most are hard to find and can be rather expensive. So instead of buying and storing 2-3 different kinds of gums, you can use the one which, even on its own, gives a terrific mouthfeel: xanthan gum.

Why xanthan gum? Well, it is easy to find in speciality stores. It also works well on its own (no other gums are needed). Furthermore, you do not need to apply heat to it, which means no cooking over the stovetop, so it is also the easiest to use. 

Plain Ice Cream (it’s just milk, cream and sugar – MY FAVOURITE) 

Vanilla Ice Cream with vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with vanilla bean

Strawberry Ice Cream  with fresh strawberries

Chocolate & Cocoa Powder Ice Cream to make it really rich in chocolate

Cocoa Powder Ice Cream with cocoa powder only 

Chocolate Ice Cream with chocolate only 

The Biterkin tricks for a perfect Chocolate & Cocoa Ice Cream with xanthan gum:

Here are some tricks used in the making of this chocolate ice cream, which take it to the next level.

You can replace regular sugar with good-quality raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado, which are very aromatic, thanks to their natural content in molasses and have an earthy, slightly caramelised aroma.
By replacing regular sugar with raw cane sugar like the above, you boost the chocolate flavour of the ice cream, creating the ultimate chocolate ice cream experience.
Choose good-quality raw cane sugar, one which smells divine when you sniff it. The best Demerara sugar is known to originate from the island of Mauritius, so check the label for the origin.

When using xanthan gum for ice cream making, you need to bring the ice-cream mixture to the right temperature (appr. 55ºC/131ºF) before adding the gum. That is the ideal temperature for the gum to dissolve effectively without clumping and fully hydrate after 2 minutes of blending.

While it is good to have a thermometer, it is only natural that you may not have one at home. For this reason, I have developed a simple method, which uses the laws of physics to guarantee that you bring the liquid to the right temperature before adding the gum.

How does it work? To bring a mixture to the desired temperature, you need to combine two mixtures of the right amount and the right temperature. There are two standard temperatures of a liquid that you do not need a thermometer to measure. By standard, we mean that they are always the same:

  1. the one is the boiling temperature of a liquid, which is always appr. 100ºC; 212ºF. When we say boiling, we mean full boil. 
  2. the other is the temperature of a liquid cold from the fridge; that is appr. 4ºC; 39ºF (assuming that the refrigerator functions as it should).

What you do, is bring the milk and sugar to a full boil and then combine it with the heavy cream, which is cold and straight out from the fridge. By doing so, the mixture immediately reaches appr. 55ºC/131ºF; you then sprinkle the xanthan gum and blend for two minutes to fully hydrate. That works every time, and it is an easy way to use xanthan gum without a thermometer.

Note: if you live at a high altitude up to 6000 ft (1850 mtr.), you can still use this method as xanthan gum is quite forgiving. A minor differentiation in the boiling mixture will not affect the outcome. If you live at an altitude higher than that, you’d better use a thermometer to bring the milk to the desired temperature (appr. 55ºC/131ºF), sprinkle the xanthan gum and blend to hydrate before adding the cold cream.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

Every ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Do not attempt to reduce or replace anything; everything is there for a reason. Look out for these:

The recipe at a glance:

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to ice cream making, do read the recipe before proceeding. 

Note that the colour of your ice cream mixture depends on the cocoa powder you will use, so its hue may differ from that of the photos.

Chocolate & Cocoa Powder Ice Cream | with xanthan gum
Chocolate & Cocoa Powder
Ice Cream | with xanthan gum

* for cup measurings read “How to measure the ingredients” below

For best results, use a digital kitchen scale and measure the ingredients directly into the bowl/saucepan, as you proceed with the recipe. 

For volume measurements:

1 cup (US) = 236.5 | 1 Tbs. = 15 ml

– for sugar: measuring sugar in tablespoons is more accurate than measuring it in cups. Use a 15 ml measuring tablespoon (not a regular one); this is 13 gr of sugar. To measure correctly, each time you scoop the sugar, level it with the flat side of a knife.

– for cocoa powder: first, sift the cocoa powder into a bowl and then measure by the spoonful by gently taking a spoonful at a time and levelling it with the flat side of a knife. Measure the cocoa powder right after sifting it, as its volume lessens while it sits.

– for chocolate/couverture: measuring chocolate by volume is impossible because measurements vary depending on how finely chopped the chocolate is. What you can do is calculate the number of pieces you need based on the weight of the chocolate bar as written on the packaging.

– for liquid ingredients: make sure that you thoroughly scrape with a rubber spatula the cup every time you measure something and empty it.

You can find xanthan gum in speciality shops, health food stores and online. It should contain only xanthan gum and no additional ingredients. 

You can adjust the quantity of the xanthan gum in the recipe to your liking, depending on the texture you want to achieve:

  • To slightly stabilise the ice cream without affecting its texture and mouthfeel much, use 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and decrease the sugar by 15 gr (0.5 oz.)
  • To create a firmer texture, which has a fuller body and mouthfeel, use 1/2 teaspoon as per the recipe.
  • For a stretchy texture similar to Booza/salep ice cream, use 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and increase the sugar in the recipe by 15 gr (0.5 oz.)

Any unsweetened cocoa powder will do.
Use your favourite unsweetened cocoa powder, or choose a cocoa powder judging by its aroma and colour. A dark brown colour and a lovely cocoa aroma are good indicators for the maximum chocolate flavour in the ice cream.

Dutch-processed cocoa is a good choice for it has a rich flavour and colour, but you can also use natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder.

This recipe is for chocolate/couverture with 70-74% cocoa solids; for other cocoa solids % click here.

Do not use in this recipe:

  • chocolate which contains nuts, fruits, cereals, etc. 
  • chocolate sweetened with sweeteners, honey, or anything other than regular sugar (although raw cane sugar is ok)
  • milk chocolate, white chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate 

Only use whole milk (this is around 3.5% fat). Do not substitute with skimmed milk or plant-based milk.

Use heavy cream with 35-40% fat content and pourable consistency. “Ultra-pasteurised cream” and “cream suitable for whipping” with 35-40% fat are ok, too. Avoid any cream which contains sugar or other sweeteners.

You can combine double cream with whole milk to make heavy cream for this recipe. To make 350 gr (12.3 oz.) heavy cream, you need:

  • 250 gr double cream (8.8 oz.) (with 50% fat)
  • 100 gr/ml whole milk (3.5 oz.) (3.5% fat) *

To make the heavy cream, put the double cream in a large bowl, then pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring smoothly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Avoid whisking, as it may turn into whipped cream.

The resulting heavy cream has 36% fat, perfect for this ice cream. Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 350 gr (12.3 oz.) heavy cream needed. 

*this 100 gr (3.5.oz.) milk is extra to the 500 gr milk (17.6 oz) asked in the recipe. If using double cream, you need in total 600 gr milk (21.1 oz.), from which:

  • 500 gr (17.6 oz.) are for the recipe; and
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz.) are mixed with the double cream to make heavy cream

Only use regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or raw cane sugar such as Turbinado or Demerara.

Do not try to reduce the calories of the ice cream by cutting down the sugar or replacing it with low-calories or “healthy” sweeteners. Do not use:

  • sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia, liquid or granulated. Sweeteners mixed with sugar are not suitable either.
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • honey or other liquid sweeteners, natural or artificial

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Plan ahead:

Make the ice cream mixture (steps 1-3) one day before churning it.

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Make the ice cream mixture

If you haven’t already done so: melt the chocolate (125 gr; 4.4 oz.) in a heatproof bowl and over a saucepan with simmering water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. 

Set up the blender: if your blender needs assembling, have it set up and ready to use.

We will be blending boiling milk into the blender, so make sure that the blender jug is heatproof and can work with 600 ml of hot liquid.

Alternatively, use an immersion blender and a deep heatproof bowl.

Combine the heavy cream with 1/5 of the milk: pour the heavy cream (350 gr ; 12.3 oz.; 1½ cup) and roughly 1/5 of the milk  (100 gr; 3.5 oz.; 1/2 cup) into a jug and place in the refrigerator to keep cold.

Sift the cocoa powder and xanthan gum: combine the cocoa powder (15 gr; 0.5 oz.; 3 Tbs.) and xanthan gum  teaspoon) into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl. Sift and set aside.

Warm the rest of the milk with the sugar: in a medium saucepan, put the rest of the milk (400 gr; 14.1 oz.) and all the sugar (195 gr; 6.9 oz.; 15 Tbs.). Warm over medium heat, often stirring with the rubber spatula, until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and steamy.

Bring to a boil: when all the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; as soon as it comes to a full boil (large bubbles which pop vigorously appear on the surface), immediately remove from the heat and pour into the blender. 

Add the cocoa powder and blend: with the blender on, add the cocoa/xanthan gum mixture a tablespoon at a time. Aim for the centre of the blender to avoid cocoa powder getting stuck on its sides.

Add the cold cream & 1/5 of the milk and blend for 2 minutes to fully hydrate the xanthan gum.
Add the melted chocolate: stop the blender and pour some cocoa-milk mixture into the melted chocolate (just enough to loosen it). Stir to loosen the melted chocolate and pour back into the blender; blend to combine.
Step 2: Chill the ice cream mixture

Strain the ice cream mixture over a fine mesh sieve and into a bowl.

Chill thoroughly: cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your ice cream mixture should always be thoroughly chilled. Otherwise, if the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

Step 3: Churn the ice cream

Check the ice cream mixture, whether it is thoroughly chilled, before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–8ºC / 39ºF-46ºF)

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Stir: the ice cream should have slightly thickened after chilling; give it a vigorous and thorough stirring to loosen it.

The ice cream mixture will become thicker after chilling it, but it should still be pourable and fluid. If the ice cream mixture is too thick (like yoghurt), stir it vigorously to loosen it or blend it briefly for 5 seconds with an immersion/regular blender. Why do we do that? If the ice cream mixture is thick, it will quickly become too stiff during churning; and the ice cream maker will stop sooner than it should. In this case, the ice cream will be sloppy instead of fluffy.

So if you are after fluffy, mousse-like ice cream, take the time to bring the ice cream mixture to a fluid consistency before churning it.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream makerLeave to churn until fluffed up and creamy; depending on your ice cream maker this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes (see below).

This chocolate ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy, with a mousse-like consistency. That could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on your ice cream maker.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will be still soft like soft-serve ice cream. If you lift ice cream with the spoon and a pool immediately starts forming on its edges, you will have to churn it for longer.
In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Warning: some ice cream makers are programmed to automatically stop after a specific length of time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 4: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, stop the ice cream maker and: 

  • remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
  • remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl
  • cover the ice cream bowl and put it in the freezer to set

Setting time depends on the ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

Check it occasionally (approx. every 2 hours; or as needed) while it is in the freezer. The ice cream is ready when it has an internal temperature of -11ºC / 12ºF. If you do not have a thermometer, to evaluate if the ice cream has set, insert a round tip knife into it, all the way to the bottom: 

  • when the ice cream is ready, it feels firm as you go down, but at the same time it is soft enough to insert the knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom.
  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the ice cream is easy to scoop (or it has an internal temperature of approx. -11°C / 12°F if you have a thermometer), you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of an ice cream parlour’s.

Storing and serving

Storing: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term. To soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minutes.

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the perfect serving temperature of this chocolate ice cream is when the thermometer inserted midway through the ice cream reads around -11ºC / 12ºF. At this temperature, the ice cream is perfectly scoopable and enjoyable.

Make this ice cream with any cocoa solids % chocolate/couverture!
Make this ice cream with any cocoa solids % chocolate!

Click on the cocoa solids % chocolate of your choice for the recipe. 

You can choose any cocoa solids % chocolate you like; the final ice cream will be the same. The difference between the recipes is in the quantities of the ingredients. For example, with 50% cocoa solids chocolate, you need 200 gr (7.1 oz.) chocolate, whereas, with 70-74% chocolate, you need 125 gr (4.4 oz.); e.t.c., e.t.c. The same is with the rest of the ingredients (sugar, milk, cream); they change so that the final ice cream has the same chocolate intensity and a perfect mouthfeel, no matter the cocoa solids % of the chocolate you use.

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