You do not need an ice cream maker to make this insanely good No-churn Chocolate & Cocoa Powder Ice Cream. What you need to do is to bookmark this page because as soon as you make it, you’ll want to come back for more.
This recipe is a far cry from all no-churn ice cream recipes out there because it does NOT use sweetened condensed milk, no, no. This no-churn ice cream recipe uses milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks which make for a perfect ice cream flavour. The secret ingredient here is gelatine, which brings everything together.
To make it, you need a mixer, hand-held being just fine. The process is simple and requires a few steps and little involvement.
If you love to know the whys behind this recipe, read below about the Biterkin way to making no-churn ice cream; this is the result of years of experimentation and cannot be found anywhere else. Bonus: a trick to enhance the chocolate flavour.
When making a regular custard ice cream at home with an ice cream maker, we use milk, heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks and make an ice cream mixture by cooking the custard on the stovetop; then we chill it and churn in the ice cream maker. What happens during churning, is that air enters the ice cream mixture; this stays there because, at the same time, the mixture freezes. These air pockets which stay trapped in the frozen mixture result in a fluffy ice cream, which retains its fluffiness in the freezer. If it weren’t for the air, the result would be a hard, frozen granita block, which would impossible to scoop out or be eaten with a spoon.
So, the important thing when making ice cream is to incorporate air and keep it there. But how can you make ice cream without an ice cream maker? What you have to do is to incorporate air BEFORE freezing the ice cream mixture (as opposed to WHILE freezing it, which is what you do while churning in the ice cream maker). You can add air in a dairy mixture, by whipping it, but it must contain enough fat to make it whip-able. You can easily make a no-churn ice cream using just whipping cream, sugar and egg yolks with the right amount of fat (around 25%) to make it whip-able. This kind of no-churn ice cream may be lovely, but lacks the one ingredient which gives it the perfect ice cream flavour: milk.
While developing this no-churn ice cream-the Biterkin way-, the question was: how can we incorporate milk into the whipped custard, without deflating it? The answer came after experimenting with gelatine: we can make a light jelly made from milk and sugar. This makes the milk steady enough to incorporate it into the whipped custard, without deflating it. We then freeze the mixture into the freezer until set. The result is mind-blowing: it is just like real ice cream; or at least, the closest you can get to it, without using an ice cream maker. No fuss; no special folding skills; no special ingredients. As this method is unique and cannot be found elsewhere, it is fair enough to call it “the Biterkin way” to no-churn ice cream.
For this ice cream, we need to make a custard. The usual way to make custard is to add the egg yolks to the cream and cook it until thickened. That is easy to do with an instant-read thermometer, as the custard thickens at 80ºC/176ºF. But if you do not have a thermometer, you may find yourself stirring over the stovetop, feeling unsure if it is ready.
In this recipe, a unique, simple method is used, which only requires that you:
Why it works: when we pour (X) boiling liquid into (Y) fridge-cold egg yolks while whisking the egg yolks vigorously, the final mixture (X+Y) instantly reaches the desired temperature, approximately 80ºC/176ºF.
This method takes out all the guessing and does not require you to sit over the stovetop, stirring until the custard is ready. You only need to boil the cream, pour it into the egg yolks and you are all set.
Usually, when using gelatine in a recipe, we are asked to soak it into cold water to soften it, squeeze the excess water and then use it. The problem in ice cream making is that if we follow this path, no matter how well we squeeze out the gelatine leaves, we will end up with some extra water in our ice cream. Excess water in ice cream is something we want to avoid, as it creates unwanted ice crystals into the ice cream.
To fix this, in this recipe, we soak the gelatine into cold milk (instead of water); this is milk intended to add to the recipe, so no squeezing is needed either. All you need to do is add the soaked gelatine with its cold milk as instructed in the recipe.
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.
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:
Note that the colour of your ice cream mixture depends on the cocoa powder and the chocolate you will use, so its hue may differ from that of the photos.
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 ml , 1 Tbs.=15 ml , 1 tsp.=5ml
– 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.
Gelatine leaves: most gelatine leaves widely available, have the same setting properties. This means that 6 gelatine leaves can set 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid. This is usually written on the packaging.* (gelatine leaves referred to here, weigh 1.7 gr (0.6 oz) each and measure 11×7 cm (4.3×2.75 inches). .
Gelatine powder / granulated: this is usually sold in sachets; each sachet contains 2.5 tsp. gelatine powder and should be able to set 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid*.
* The setting properties of the gelatine are usually written on the packaging of the product. However, if the one you use does not include this information, worry not, as in the recipe you are provided with detailed description on how the milk jelly should be like, and what to do in case it is not.
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 50-55% cocoa solids.
Do not use in this recipe:
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, suitable for whipping. Avoid any cream which contains sugar or other sweeteners. Do not substitute with low-fat cream or plant-based cream.
You can combine double cream with whole milk to make heavy cream for this recipe. To make 385 gr (13.6 oz.) heavy cream, you need:
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 38% fat, perfect for this ice cream. Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 385 gr (13.6 oz.) heavy cream needed.
*this 100 gr (3.5.oz.) milk is extra to the 250 gr milk (8.8 oz) asked in the recipe. So if you are using double cream, you need in total 350gr milk (12.3 oz.), from which:
Use only regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or raw cane sugar such as Turbinado or Demerara.
Do not use:
Egg yolks must be fridge-cold, or else they will cook from the boiling cream when you pour it over them.
Use a scale to weigh the egg yolks.
If you do not have a scale, use egg yolks from 4 eggs in the range of 65 – 75 gr; 2.3 – 2.65 oz, approximately (this is the weight of a whole egg, in its shell). These eggs are labelled as:
TIP: to separate the egg yolk from the white, do it when the eggs are cold from the fridge, as the egg yolks are firmer and are easy to handle.
A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:
-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop
-scraping residues which would otherwise be left behind in bowls, saucepans, etc.
If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferring a flexible one.
Using a saucepan with a long handle is perfect for pouring the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other (step 2).
Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a slightly wet towel under it; this will keep it in place.
A handheld mixer makes it easier to evaluate the stage of the whipping cream in step 3 and to stop when it reaches the desired consistency.
If you whip with a stand mixer instead, always keep an eye on it to avoid over-whipping.
It is recommended to use a stainless steel whisk to smooth the milk jelly in step 4, as opposed to a silicone one. A silicone whisk may not be steady enough to smooth the jelly.
Alternatively, if you use a hand-held mixer, you can as well transfer it to the bowl with the jelly and use this to smooth it.
Start making the ice cream the day before you want to serve it.
Soften the gelatine:
Set aside for 10 minutes to soften, while you proceed with the recipe.
Place a whisk and a rubber spatula on a plate next to the stovetop to have them close and ready to use; this will come in handy to shift between the whisk and the spatula during cooking.
Warm the rest of the milk and 1/3 of the sugar: in a medium saucepan put the rest of the milk (170 gr; 6 oz; 2/3 cup plus 20 ml.) and 1/3 of the sugar (45 gr; 1.6 oz.; 3 Tbs.) and warm over medium-high heat, often stirring with a rubber spatula, until the sugar dissolves. Do not let the milk boil before the sugar dissolves, or it may curdle.
Add the cocoa powder and the chopped chocolate (175 gr; 6.2 oz.) into the hot milk and whisk/stir as needed, to dissolve the cocoa powder and melt the chocolate.
Add the softened gelatine along with its cold milk into the boiling-hot chocolate milk and stir immediately with the rubber spatula, thoroughly scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Blend with an immersion blender the chocolate-milk, stopping once during blending to thoroughly scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with the rubber spatula.
No, you’d better not. The reason is that when we use a regular blender to blend a mixture, part of the mixture stays in the bottom of the blender when we pour it off.
Although this quantity seems unimportant, this loss may affect this ice cream’s balance.
An immersion blender is the most effective tool for blending small quantities of liquid and dissolving all cocoa lumps. If you do not have an immersion blender, read below how to skip blending.
Whisk and stir well and thoroughly until no lumps are visible and pass through a fine mesh-sieve while still hot.
Cool down the chocolate-milk: pour the chocolate-milk into a sealable bowl and leave it to cool down while you make the custard.
Prepare the egg yolks: put the cold egg yolks (80 gr; 2.8 oz.) in a large heatproof bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Put them in the fridge to keep them cold, keeping the whisk in the bowl. Aim to proceed with the recipe as soon as possible, as the egg yolks dry out quickly.
Boil the cream and the rest of the sugar: place the heavy cream (385 gr; 13.6 oz; 1⅔ cups) and the rest of the sugar (90 gr; 3.2 oz.) in a medium saucepan; you can use the same saucepan as in the previous step, no need to rinse. Warm over medium heat, often stirring with the rubber spatula until the sugar dissolves.
Increase the heat to medium-high and remove the egg yolks from the fridge. If the bowl with the egg yolks is lightweight, put a damp towel below to keep it in place while you pour inside the boiling cream.
Pour the boiling cream into the egg yolks: when the cream comes to a full boil (large bubbles begin to cover the surface), remove it from the heat, and immediately pour it in a steady stream into the cold egg yolks with one hand, while whisking them vigorously with the other.
Stir: with the rubber spatula, stir the custard well and thoroughly, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
You have to stir the custard with a rubber spatula while it is still hot, thoroughly scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, where residues of egg yolk lie. Those residues, which you cannot see, should be incorporated into the mixture while it is still hot. Stirring also makes the custard thicken slightly.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve and into a clean bowl; after straining, there will be custard stuck beneath the sieve: release it into the bowl with the rest of the custard by gently tapping the sieve over the bowl and scrapping it with the rubber spatula.
Cool down the custard: prepare an ice bath by putting ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl and carefully nest inside the bowl with the cocoa jelly, taking care that no water slips into it. Leave to cool down, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the custard and the chocolate-milk have cooled down, you have to thoroughly chill them before proceeding. You can choose one of the two methods below:
Cover both the chocolate-milk and the custard and put them in the refrigerator. Leave them to chill for 8 hours; or up to 3 days.
When you have time, prefer the slow method, which matures the ice cream mixture and improve its flavours. If you are in a hurry, you will be happy to know that most people do not notice this flavour improvement, so feel free to shortcut.
When choosing the fast method, consider that it needs more ice than an average household usually holds.
Check if the chocolate-milk jelly has the right consistency: shake the bowl; the chocolate-milk jelly should be jiggly, just to the point of setting. It should be neither pourable nor too firm (otherwise, read Troubleshooting right below).
If the chocolate-milk jelly is too firm, try to whisk it vigorously until smooth and no lumps remain. If this doesn’t work, use a food processor to pulse it briefly, add some of the whipped custard (after going through the “Whip the custard to soft peaks” below) and pulse once more. When it is smooth, you can add to the rest of the custard and proceed with the recipe (in this case, skip the “Smooth the chocolate-milk jelly” instructions and go straight to “Mix the cocoa-milk jelly with the custard”).
If the jelly hasn’t set at all and is still fluid, try to thicken it by adding one more gelatine leaf (or 1/2 tsp. gelatine granules). To do so, you will have to go again through step 1, but this extra time and effort are the only way for this recipe to succeed. To do so, steep the gelatine leaf in all the cold chocolate-milk-wannabe-jelly (if using gelatine granules, sprinkle the granules over 2-3 Tbs. chocolate-milk), then leave for 5-10 minutes to soften. In a small saucepan, pour just enough chocolate-milk to cover the bottom of the pan, warm it gently, remove from the heat and add the softened gelatine leaf (or the gelatine granules along with its cocoa-milk). Stir well to dissolve. Gradually add in the warm saucepan all of the cold chocolate-milk, stir well, return to the container and back to the fridge to set.
Whip the custard to soft peaks: pour the custard into a mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment on, whip at medium speed until the mixture is thick and dollopable. This is when the waves created the surface of the cream hold their shape instead of disappearing.
Lighten the chocolate-milk jelly: in a separate bowl, put the chocolate-milk jelly and whisk until smooth. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the whipped custard to the chocolate-milk jelly and whisk to combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again.
Combine the chocolate-milk jelly with the custard: add the lightened chocolate-milk jelly into the custard and whip at medium speed for one full minute. Stop the mixer, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula, bringing everything upwards, then whip for 30 seconds more, or until the mixture has a uniform brown colour, without streaks.
Transfer the whipped mixture into a freezable container (1.75 litre/quart). Cover well and put it in the freezer until completely firm and set, preferably overnight. Do not let the surface of the ice cream stay in direct contact with the cover before the surface sets, or it will cling to it. If needed, leave the ice cream uncovered for one hour to let the surface set, then cover it well.
Alternatively, if using the ice cream mixture to fill a mould, (like ice cream pop mould, torte or sandwich) pour it there right after whipping. Let it freeze for 24 hours before cutting/unmoulding.
The setting time for this no-churn ice cream depends on your freezer. It may take 6-8 hours, but you’d better expect it to take 12 hours, as it depends on the freezer. To tell if the ice cream is ready, insert a knife into it; it should be too hard to go all the way to the bottom*. When it sets, you can soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency by putting it in the refrigerator for one hour; this will give the best texture and mouthfeel to this ice cream.
* if the ice cream is not ready, when you insert a knife it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down. In this case, you have to let it sit for longer.
Storage: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells.
Serving: to soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for one hour.
Use a rubber spatula:
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.
Use a saucepan with a long handle:
Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for easily pouring the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.
Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a towel under it, to keep it in place while whisking.