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Absolutely Perfect Bittersweet Chocolate Eggless Ice Cream

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In trying to avoid hyperbole when sharing this ice cream, I have rewritten the first paragraph of this post twice. I started to try and tell you about why I made it, about what I was looking for, and about how I was pleasantly surprised by the results. And then I decided that my measured approach wasn’t working, so let me come right out and say it: this is the best ice cream I’ve ever made.

Now we can start at the beginning.

Nick Morganstern is an ice cream whisperer. He has tinkered with every aspect of his recipe: the sugar, the fat, the eggs, the churning method, even the serving temperature. The result is perfect. Back in the day, you could get a Morganstern scoop from the little cart outside Goat Town, in the East Village.

Now, Goat Town is closed. To get Morganstern’s ice cream, you’ve got to make your way to Soho, to his new ice cream parlor – yes, black-and-white tile and chef’s hats, it is a parlor – called, appropriately, Morganstern’s Finest.

But back when Goat Town still had an ice cream cart out front, when Gilt Taste was still a thing, Melissa Clark went down to Goat Town and coaxed Nick Morganstern to tell her all his secrets, on camera. She learned about how he caramelized the sugar for his ice cream base. She discovered, with some surprise, that he skipped the eggs entirely. And then she tried his ice cream on video, and seriously, I had to hold myself back from ripping through the screen of my computer to take a lick.

Now Gilt Taste is gone, too, and Melissa told me sadly that so was the video. But I am a crazy stalker lady, and I really wanted to make this ice cream. Also, I wanted to watch the video again. And guess what?  The video still exists. The great cyber archive is worth something after all!

I watched the video a couple dozen times, scrawled a few learning notes in my recipe notebook, put all my eggs back into the fridge, and set out to copy the master. Fortunately, an old one of Melissa’s columns offered a couple of tips and some basic proportions to get me started. I knew that Morganstern swears by powdered milk, but I know nothing about the proportions he uses. Easy enough: I skipped it, with Melissa’s permission.

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The rest was pretty straightforward. Ultimately, hacking the perfect eggless chocolate ice cream wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be: it worked on my first try. What’s in the tupperware in my freezer is creamy and custardy. It is smooth and silky, with not an ice crystal in sight. It is as chocolatey as anything can be without being one of those unsweetened chocolate bars. It also has citrus notes, which Melissa pointed out on camera and Nick attributed to the mint, but I think it’s because of that dark amber caramel, which often tastes a bit like lemon zest when it’s made well.

Last but not least, it has.no.eggs.

Why does this thrill me? Because, as anyone who makes ice cream knows, it is a pain to separate all those yolks. It is even more of a pain to use up half a dozen eggs on one batch of ice cream. And the egg whites – the egg whites! – I always seem to have them lying around, taunting me with quiet threats of going bad. It’s a bit stressful. Ice cream should not be stressful; it should be happy. This one is.

Thank you to Melissa Clark and to the defunct Gilt Taste. Thanks to Nick Morganstern and to Goat Town, which is no longer. Thanks to the rain in DC, for making my herbs explode and giving me an excuse to pick an entire bundle of mint. Mostly, thanks to the ingredients chocolate and cream, for being plenty thick and extremely delicious and pretty much perfect, just like this ice cream is.

Absolutely Perfect Bittersweet Chocolate Eggless Ice Cream
Developed with help from Nick Morganstern, via a Gilt Taste video, and Melissa Clark’s 2010 recipe in the NYT
Makes 2 pints

3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 1/4 cups milk
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72% cacao), chopped
pinch of salt
2 ounces fresh mint

Have everything measured, chopped, and ready to go before you start making this ice cream. This is especially important for the cream, since you’ll be using it to temper the caramel and need to have it available right when you need it.

Put sugar in a deep saucepan over medium heat. As the sugar melts, it will begin to clump; stir consistently, until it starts to feel like wet sand; the clumps will dissipate gradually.

 

Once the sugar has melted completely, it will start to caramelize and darken. Continue stirring and keep your eye on the heat. You’re looking for a deep, dark amber color, but you don’t want the sugar to burn. If you’re nervous about how quickly the sugar is darkening, reduce the heat slightly. When the sugar is deep amber, pour half a cup of cream into the saucepan. It will bubble, then subside; stir constantly until the cream has incorporated. Continue to add cream by the 1/4 cup, stirring constantly as you add it. You’re going to add all of the cream to the saucepan, but you need to do it gradually, or the caramel will separate.

Once you have a smooth cream-caramel base, the next step is to add the chocolate. If you have an immersion blender, you can add the chocolate right into the saucepan, stir until it’s melted, then blend smooth. If you don’t have one, put the chocolate in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground. Then add one cup of the hot cream mixture and the mint, and blend (carefully, to avoid explosions) until completely smooth. If you’re nervous about bits of mint remaining, feel free to strain the chocolate mixture. Otherwise, pour the chocolate mixture back into the rest of the hot cream, add milk and salt, and stir until completely smooth. (At this point, you should have no issues with separation; however, if you do, you can always transfer the mixture into a food processor/blender or blend with an immersion blender.)

Transfer ice cream base to a large heat-safe bowl and transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely, at least overnight. When cold, pour into bowl of your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, or in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anne July 23, 2014,

    I’m not a huge fan of overly-eggy/custardy ice cream, so between that and the caramelized sugar, I think I’ve figured out what I’m making this weekend…

  • Prag July 24, 2014,

    ccol you put an eggless recipe! they’re not easy to find

    thanks!

    • rivka July 24, 2014,

      It’s better than pretty much any egg-based ice cream I’ve had – a real winner.

  • This ice cream sounds divine and so easy! Thanks for the recipe!

  • ATG July 26, 2014,

    Is the mint necessary?

  • ATG July 27, 2014,

    Also of note: in this video (http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000002967947/ice-cream-basics.html?playlistId=100000001606605) which was presumably done after the one you linked to, Melissa Clark mentions that she prefers ice creams with an egg custard base because she likes the creamy mouthfeel.

    • rivka July 27, 2014,

      I generally like custardy ice creams too, but this one is creamier than the best custard-based ice cream. It’s sort of shocking how creamy it is.

  • Rebecca July 27, 2014,

    We are just digging into our first batch of this, Rivka, and it’s divine. My two little kids and I love it (they’re not picky about ice cream, but I am!). Your beautiful writing with its strong sense of anticipation finally made me break out the ice cream maker this season, so thank you! As a novice chef I would have loved a bit more info. about the mint – I was *astounded* by how much volume it took to get to even 1 oz., must less 2, and I wasn’t sure if I’d lessen its impact on the flavor by straining it out. Also wasn’t sure at what point to add the mint (I did the immersion blender version) or when to remove pot from the heat. Despite all my uncertainties, the product is fantastic! So maybe on top of everything, the recipe is also foolproof. Thanks!

    • rivka July 27, 2014,

      Thanks for the helpful feedback! I’ll update the recipe with this info once I remeasure how much 2 oz. of mint is in cups, but it’s a big bunch – mint isn’t heavy.

      As for when to add the mint, I added it just after blending the hot caramel cream mixture with the chocolate. I found it helpful to make a smooth base before incorporating the mint. From the video, it looks like Morganstern adds his along with his milk, so also after the caramel is made and the base is mostly complete. A similar approach.

  • Alicia July 27, 2014,

    If I’m trying to make it a little more healthy/dairy free, do you think Coconut Milk would work?

    • rivka July 27, 2014,

      Hey Alicia,

      I’m not sure that coconut milk would make this healthier, since it tends to have plenty of fat on its own. If you’re set on making this dairy-free, I think the flavor of coconut milk would work really well, but you’ll need to adjust the proportions to account for the fact that its fat content is higher than milk. The heavy cream I typically use has about 38% fat. whole milk typically has about 4% fat. With 2/3 cream and 1/3 milk, the dairy in the ice cream is about 25% fat on average. According to Wikipedia, thick coconut milk has roughly 20-22% fat, which means you may want to add a bit of coconut cream into the mix if using exclusively coconut milk products. Let us know how it turns out!