I first heard about the ice cream genius that is David Lebovitz from  Michelle of the Brown Eyed Baker, who posted about this recipe for chocolate ice cream almost two years ago. When she said that this was the best chocolate ice cream that she’d ever had, I knew I had to make it. Unfortunately I had to wait a while because I couldn’t find Dutch process cocoa powder in my grocery store, and while it is available on Amazon, I was hesitant to double the price of the cocoa with the cost of shipping. Luckily, my local Whole Foods carries it, and when I discovered that, I bought a box and hustled home to make this ice cream.

It has since become my go-to ice cream recipe. I now own David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop, which is a beautiful book full of glorious recipes for all sorts of decadent ice creams and sorbets but also mix-ins and vessels to serve ice cream upon, like brownies and cookies and other delights. But before I get to any of those (and believe me, I will!) I had to make chocolate again. I’ve made it a few times before, and I’m always amazed at how rich and chocolatey and dreamy it is. This time, I decided to spice things up with the addition of peanut butter patties, a recipe from the mix-ins section of the book, which couldn’t be simpler: peanut butter + confectioner’s sugar, drop lumps of it on a plate and freeze, then fold into the ice cream before freezing it. It was a stellar addition!! But, you can always leave it out if wish.

And Michelle is right: this is, without a doubt, the very best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Patties

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt (Lebovitz recommends kosher or coarse sea salt, table salt will work however)
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 recipe peanut butter patties, if desired (recipe follows)

  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 cup of the cream and the cocoa powder, whisking thoroughly. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth, then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. This is a good time to set up an ice bath in a vessel that is large enough to hold  the bowl of chocolate. Set it aside – you’ll need that later.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. (The idea here is to bring the eggs up to temperature slowly so they don’t curdle.) Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Move the bowl into the ice bath and stir until cool.
  4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.) Stir in the peanut butter patties.

Peanut butter patties 

Makes 40 1/2 inch patties

Lebovitz recommends not using a natural peanut butter here, but I used Skippy Natural without a problem. But then, I’m not sure how “natural” Skippy Natural actually is – an truly natural peanut butter that has to be stirred would be too runny here.

6 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Stir together peanut butter and sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap (I neglected to do this and it was fine.) Scoop out half teaspoons of the peanut butter mixture and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties.

From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz