Devil’s Food Chocolate Ice Cream

There are a lot of ways to do the same thing, just as there are a variety of ways to get to the same place. Which is why it’s always fun for me to give a go at another recipe, maybe one that I’m (very) familiar with – like chocolate ice cream – but made in an unfamiliar way.

Since I got my hands on Bravetart by Stella Parks, a book dedicated not to just iconic American desserts, including cakes, cookies and candies, I was consumed by all the information on its pages. I read it like a book, absorbing the information, some of it new to me, and much of it debunking commonly held beliefs about cooking and baking.

For those whole like recipes to be very precise with detailed explanations, including specific brands which should be used, and why, Bravetart is the book for you. Yes, kosher salts can differ (according to Stella, brands that contain sodium ferrocyanide can interfere with crystallization when making candy) and some are saltier than others. Cocoa powders behave differently based on brand and fat content. And she is extremely opinionated on the subject of flour (backed up by years of testing), concluding that if you want to have the best results when baking, use Gold Medal bleached flour.

There’s no one way to do things, as the internet has shown us. I make ice cream a little different than Stella, and Jeni, but we’re all part of the mix. There were so many recipes in her book I wanted to make, especially the Boston Cream Pie, one of my all-time favorite desserts, but I only have one 8-inch cake pan. (I think I lost the other one somewhere over the Atlantic.)

Especially enticing is the chapter called “Candies & Candy Bars,” which raises the bar, so to speak, on iconic American candy bars. Stella cracked the code for everything, from Mars Bars and Cracker Jacks, to Heath Bars, and – yes, Snickers Bars with homemade peanut butter nougat.

But I settled on an ice cream, because my ice cream machine is always ready. This one is called Devil’s Food Chocolate Ice Cream due to the high proportion of cocoa powder in the mix, and I was anxious to try it. It starts with a base of chocolate and cocoa powder, then you make a custard and add it to the base. I was very (very) tempted to eat the chocolate base all on its own, but somehow, I managed not to.

Thankfully I had enough for one glorious quart of chocolate ice cream. It was dark and rich, chewy and dense. Some of the texture is due to the addition of liquor in the mix.

I used this African liqueur, which ended up on my liquor shelf when a good friend moved back to the States and left me a few miscellaneous bottles. I never used it for anything, even though the mix of coconuts and chocolate is very (very) appealing to me, as is complimentary booze.

But it was also a boost to the texture of this Devil’s Food Chocolate Ice Cream, as was the very dark cocoa powder that I used. Stella recommends Cacao Barry Extra Brute and I used Valrhona, which is very rich and very dark as well. So while we took a few different twists and turns using different ingredients, we ended up at the same place: Great scoops of very dark, and very delicious, chocolate ice cream.

Devil's Food Chocolate Ice Cream
Print Recipe
1 quart (1l)
Adapted from Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella ParksI made this a few times, and the second, I didn't strain the chocolate as I didn't find the need to. Hence the photos in the post of straining both the chocolate, and the custard.The alcohol helps keep the ice cream from freezing too hard once churned. You can leave it out if you're avoiding alcohol, and check out some of my other strategies for keeping homemade ice cream softer. Or just remove the ice cream from the freezer 5 or so minutes in advance, to let it soften a bit.
For the chocolate base
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 cup (3oz, 85g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream
3 ounces (85g, 1/2 cup) chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate or coffee-based liqueur, such as crème de cacao or Kalhuà
For the ice cream custard base
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt (Diamond brand)
1. Make the chocolate base by whisking together in a medium saucepan, the 3/4 cup sugar and cocoa powder. Add the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. (It'll seem thick now, but will be fine when you cook it in the next step.) Add the chocolate.
2. Heat the mixture over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to bubble and boil. Scrape the chocolate base into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. Try to scrape as much of the chocolate out of the pan as possible, so you can use it in the next step. (Or you can use another saucepan.)
3. To make the ice cream base, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, milk, and salt. Set the pan over medium heat and stir with a silicone spatula constantly, until the custard base is warm. Continue to cook, stirring, until the custard starts to steam and thicken. Scrape the custard into the chocolate, add the vanilla and liqueur, and stir until smooth.
4. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. (The mixture will be quite thick after chilling in the refrigerator, so you may want to beat it with a spatula to thin it out before churning.)


A rich, deep-dark chocolate ice cream

Never miss a post!


  • June 11, 2018 5:19pm

    This is tempting me to buy her book. Rose Levy Beranbaum also swears by Gold Medal Bleached flour. I think I’ll continue with King Arthur All-purpose unbleached and unbromated. I have great success with it and prefer to keep bleach out of my diet.

    • vonmoishe
      June 11, 2018 9:53pm

      Agnes, there is no bleach in bleached flour. Stella does a remarkable job of clearly explaining bleached flour on the Serious Eats website. I highly recommend reading it. A snippet of it is instructive:

      “For starters, manufacturers aren’t pouring buckets of chlorine into cake flour—they’re treating it through low-level exposure to chlorine gas. We’re talking about concentrations ranging from 0.008% to 0.3% relative to the weight of the flour. But in no way, shape, or form does that much chlorine wind up in your food.

      The whole point of adding chlorine is to provoke a reaction, so that when the gas mingles with cake flour, both are transformed. The flour undergoes a series of chemical interactions that disrupt glycosidic bonds, depolymerize starches, and oxidize lipids, amino acids, and carotene. That’s a lot of scientific jargon, but what it means is that the flour isn’t simply whitened; it’s conditioned in a way that impacts absorbency, flavor, and pH.”

    • Patricia
      June 13, 2018 2:00am

      I agree about the flour.

  • Davie
    June 11, 2018 5:21pm

    Funny, I just bought Stella’s book yesterday and was thinking about making the Devil’s Food Chocolate Ice Cream.

    Timing is everything!

  • Nancy
    June 11, 2018 5:32pm

    I love Stella’s book…she has put soooooo much into it! And if you enjoy reading about food… this is a read for you, as David mentioned.

  • Jan
    June 11, 2018 5:42pm

    I guess your postings are for the US market, hence ‘kosher salt’ and Dutch cocoa. I don’t see the point of kosher salt – what is the French equivalent? And is there a brand of French cocoa that you’d recommend?

    • OverTheTop
      June 11, 2018 5:54pm

      A little snarky there Jan . . . use the best of the best no matter country of origin.

    • AnnetteC
      June 11, 2018 6:40pm

      He said he used Valrhona — that’s French, non?

      • June 11, 2018 7:05pm
        David Lebovitz

        Yes, I used Valrhona cacao, which is made in France, as is Cacao Barry, which Stella uses. I did say you could use sea salt or kosher salt since kosher salt isn’t available outside of the U.S.

        (Dutch-process cocoa doesn’t refer to the provenance of the cocoa powder, but is the term for cocoa that has been acid-neutralized. I linked to a post I wrote on cocoa powder in the recipe that explains that a little more.)

    • Helen in CA
      June 12, 2018 4:24am

      the “point” of kosher salt is that it’s another form of salt available to us here in the US. Since it’s different than table salt, which one is used needs to be clarified.

      Why not just ask what the equivalent salt would be in France?

    • MeanOnSunday
      June 17, 2018 11:44pm

      In this case the salt is dissolved into the ice cream so the main factor is how much salt rather than texture. Kosher salt has larger crystals than the regular table salt available in France or elsewhere. The larger the crystals the less actual sodium chloride for a fixed volume of salt. Personally I use a ratio of 2:1 for Kosher or sea salt vs table salt but actually it is variable by brand. Bottom line: if you only have table salt use half as much and adjust to taste.

      Others more expert may want to debate the taste difference between different salts, which comes from the 1-2% impurities.

  • Sally
    June 11, 2018 5:59pm

    I LOVE her book too – I can highly recommend making the pb cups, which are life-changing.

    • June 11, 2018 7:07pm
      David Lebovitz

      The candy recipes are really interesting in the book!

  • June 11, 2018 6:00pm

    I am looking for a chocolate ice cream recipe that will match the chocolate gelato a restaurant serves here in Santa Cruz. I think, I just found it. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Rick
      June 11, 2018 6:46pm

      I’m heading to Santa Cruz next week from Portland – which restaurant is that? Thx.

      • Sarah B
        June 13, 2018 10:13pm

        I suspect he means “Dolce Spazio” on N Santa Cruz Ave. However, I’ll point out – italian Gelato, true gelato, is NOT the equivalent of ice cream. The hallmark of a good gelato, the warmer temperature, the taffy-like pull, can’t be reproduced by a regular ice cream recipe, regardless of the style (with eggs/custard base or not). I’ve been eyeballing this recipe in the book too, and I’ll give it a go, but if you want really good gelato like what you’ll find in Italy, get Morgan Morano’s book. It’s the only thing I’ve found that comes close to my nonna’s recipes and gives you that authentic mouth feel.

  • Rachael
    June 11, 2018 6:29pm

    Can you please clarify how you used the colander? Your photos suggest you strained both “base” mixes, but your instructions don’t say this.

    • June 11, 2018 7:06pm
      David Lebovitz

      I clarified in the headnote with an update. It’s kind of a swirl of photos, coding, uploading, writing a recipe, editing pics, and sharing a story, when I write a blog post. While doing all that, I included the photo of the chocolate pouring. (Because I liked the picture.) But the second time I made this, I realized (to me) it wasn’t necessary to strain the chocolate (mine didn’t need straining) so I left it out of the finished recipe. Sorry for the confusion but hope the recipe is clear : )

      • Rachael
        June 17, 2018 9:22pm

        Thank you!

  • Nancy
    June 11, 2018 7:10pm

    Could you please tell us where to find The Afrikoko in the United States? I have not been able to locate any and it sounds divine.

  • Pam
    June 11, 2018 7:26pm

    Thank you for your post. I just bought
    Bravetart and I love the nuances of recipes. Maybe that’s why I’ve followed you for so long!

  • June 11, 2018 7:40pm
    David Lebovitz

    Pam: That’s one of the things that I thought she did really well in the book, explaining why she used certain things. I tend to avoid calling for specific brands in recipes unless it makes a difference (because it’s frustrating for people to have to hunt down ingredients) but she makes a good case for it when she does.

    Nancy: I don’t know where it’s available. It was a gift to me, outside of the U.S. You might want to do some sleuthing on Google, although alcohol is something that often can’t be easily shipped from abroad.

  • Tom L
    June 11, 2018 9:03pm

    Based on your description, David, I had to buy this book. Sounds like a good read whether one ever made any of the items. Thanks for yet another great recipe too!

  • Sheila
    June 11, 2018 9:19pm

    Hi David. Can I make this without an ice cream maker?

  • Bradd Silver
    June 11, 2018 10:00pm

    Was great reading David’s comments about my baking bible. I am an amateur baker and learn from each recipe I make. Buy the book! I made her Oatmeal Cookie ice cream yesterday (not in book but on website). It is also amazing.

    • Jeannette
      June 13, 2018 9:03pm

      I saw this recipe today on Serious Eats and it sounded delicious. I may be making it in the very near future.

  • Sandra Myers
    June 11, 2018 10:32pm

    I recently made 2 batches of your Strawberry Sour cream ice cream from the updated Perfect Scoop. I’m a chocoholic and that ice cream is excellent. I made the first batch with vodka and the second with kirsch. I think this will be made next week when my daughter and granddaughter come to visit. My granddaughter is easily bribed over many things with chocolate–especially ice cream. I will email you a photo of her with a chocolate face!

    • Linn
      June 12, 2018 11:10am

      Does the strawberry ice cream have chocolate in it?

      • Miki
        June 13, 2018 4:00pm

        No chocolate in the strawberry ice cream but one of my all time favorites. I always add a lot more lemon juice.

  • Leslie
    June 11, 2018 10:33pm

    Stella’s book is absolutely fantastic! She explains the science of cooking, and guess what? It all makes sense.

  • Bernadette
    June 11, 2018 11:11pm

    David your chocolate ice cream is the greatest dessert known to man (this woman, anyway, and my kiddo) but I am willing to try Stella’s recipe here. Research, you know? ;)

    Looks fantastic and I don’t blame you for keeping the photos as is, they are wonderful as always.

  • Joanie
    June 11, 2018 11:26pm

    David, love this recipe. I have used Cocoa Barry for 30 years and I’m always thrilled with the results. I was afraid when they merged with Callebaut that I would lose my favorites but all is well. I am LDS and I’m wondering what you suggest to use in this ice cream recipe that does not have alcohol in it.

    • Eric
      June 12, 2018 1:05am

      In the BraveTart book she says “Omitting the alcohol altogether will cause the ice cream to freeze more quickly, so it won’t churn up to its full potential. Aside from being more dense, it will also be harder to scoop.”

      She replies almost instantly on twitter, so you could ask her over there.

      Alternately, you could take some guidance from Hello My Name Is Ice Cream (Dana Cree), and get some “ice cream stabilizer” — usually some mix of carageenan/guar gum/xanthan gum/etc. — that will do the same job as the alcohol — lower the melting point a little, making it smoother and more scoopable. In the past I got this effect when I had used Nielsen Massey “vanilla bean paste”. It has gum tragacanth as an emulsifier, and it does the “stabilizer” job if you use in your ice cream.

      • Casey
        June 12, 2018 8:26pm

        There’s also the option of adding a liquid sweetener. See one of David’s old posts:

        or this more recent post:

        about additional options for skipping the alcohol yet maintaining a more scoopable texture.

      • Clare
        July 1, 2018 7:00pm

        Just to add on to this comment about the ice cream freezing too quickly, I can confirm this happened to me the first time I made it. I have the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment and I omitted the alcohol the first time (didn’t have any on hand that seemed worthy of this recipe) but it froze almost instantly to the side of the bowl and wouldn’t turn. The next time I added vodka (had to use what was on hand!) things went much better that time but it still is very dense and froze much earlier than other recipes I’ve done. It tasted amazing though so I’m not complaining.

  • Cyn
    June 12, 2018 12:18am

    Unpolished silver looks great on film, but tarnished silver sets my teeth on edge. Not attractive.

  • Luski
    June 12, 2018 12:32am

    I love the taste test review photo at the end of the post!

    • June 12, 2018 7:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      : )

  • June 12, 2018 6:27am

    This ice cream looks and sounds so decadent, chocolatey and delicious! I have to try this recipe soon!

  • Rich Fromm
    June 12, 2018 7:07am

    Your custard based ice cream recipes typically have instructions to pour the custard through a strainer into a chilled bowl in an ice bath as soon as it’s done, so as not to overcook. There’s no step like that here. Is it not necessary, for some reason? Or not applicable b/c it’s getting mixed with the chocolate, which is also hot?

  • Aly
    June 12, 2018 10:03am

    I tried baking from her book and my only success came from her brownies. She offers logical reasoning for steps yet I can’t get her results. Particularly the fudge.

  • Kathy Janiec
    June 12, 2018 1:36pm

    Hi David, as always it’s a great pleasure to read about what you’re doing!
    I want to send you a photo of a cookware and supplies shop in Bordeaux following a recent post you did about the city. But I don’t see a photo option in this sort of comment area…
    Bonne continuation on all your projects!

  • Tricia
    June 12, 2018 8:49pm

    Wonderful recipe! Thank you David. I made as soon as I received your post last evening and churned this morning. A very special adult treat. I added 4gms of ice cream stabiliser, force of habit, and reduced sugar by 50g, personal taste. It scoops beautifully directly from the freezer. My new fave.

  • gfy
    June 13, 2018 3:09am

    I loved Stella Parks blog and looked forward to this book for years! She is so sciencey and thorough, as well as humorous. This recipe looks amazing.

  • Kate
    June 13, 2018 10:44am

    I agree, this book is amazing. I tried her strawberry ice cream recipe (you roast the strawberries first) with Greek yoghurt and it is excellent. This looks great and I like the way the silver looks :-)

  • Shari
    June 16, 2018 1:48am

    Thank you for the recipe. I’ve made your chocolate ice cream and really liked it. I just tried this, exactly as the recipe is written. It is so thick, my ice cream maker couldn’t handle it. It kept stopping before it was able to churn much air into the ice cream. Is this normal? I just put it in the freezer. We’ll see what the texture is like in a hour-ish.

    • June 16, 2018 9:13am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Shari: Yes, the mixture is quite thick before churning. All that cocoa powder adds a lot of flavor, but does thicken things up. I did advise in the recipe that you may want to give it a good stir before churning, which thins is out. But it’s probably okay if you took it out of the machine when you did. Mine frozen really nicely but not too hard, and stayed scoopable.

  • Lu
    June 17, 2018 6:41am

    Looks fantastic!

    How do you keep your ice cream from turning rock hard if alcohol is not used?

  • Susan Gregory
    June 17, 2018 6:09pm

    Bought the book yesterday, thanks David, as you said, its a great read. I have learned a lot from your books and this blog, as well as your recommendations. Thanks!

  • June 18, 2018 7:38pm

    It look delicious. Can’t wait to make it.

  • Amy
    June 21, 2018 5:59pm

    Hi David, In an effort to keep things relatively low fat, I make most of my ice cream with a buttermilk base. Would this be able to be adapted to use that instead of cream? I know it won’t freeze the same way but am ok with that. Even so I am going to have to work my way through the recipes in the updated edition of your book, they are just too tempting not to : ) .

  • Liz
    June 24, 2018 4:20am

    Delicious! This is the closest taste-match I’ve found to what many used to consider the best chocolate gelato in Italy, at Il Doge in Campo S. Margherita a Venezia! (Long since changed ownership and recipes, though.) Thank you for helping me recreate that intense cocoa-powder flavor and letting me feel like I’m on vacation!
    After reading the comments about how thick it gets, I cut back a bit on the cocoa powder & sugar (maybe cut 1/4 c. each) and added more milk (maybe 1/2 c.), and went with just 3 yolks, and it came out great! Plenty rich and thick, but not unwieldy. Yum!

  • Over The Top
    June 24, 2018 3:16pm

    Just made this ice cream and it is on par with DL’s Chocolate!

    One thing to note if you bought Stella’s book, her recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract for the chocolate paste. I’ve never seen an ice cream recipe that uses 1 Tablespoon of VE (thought maybe it was a mistake) so instead I cut it back to 2 teaspoons per David’s recipe.

  • Berit
    June 24, 2018 8:56pm

    The flavor, the texture, and the mouthfeel are absolutely great. Intense creamy chocolate. My ice cream froze a little too hard to be scoopable directly from the freezer even though I used homemade coconut rum instead of liqueur.

  • Ana Oakes
    June 27, 2018 7:09pm

    Hi David:
    I made this amazing ice cream for a birthday party. Wow it was/is a big hit.
    But I am wondering why do we have to put the melted chocolate through a sieve? The chocolate/cocoa mixture was perfectly smooth when finished. But I am a good citizen and followed your direction. But can you explain the process for me?


    • June 28, 2018 11:31pm
      David Lebovitz

      I ended up finding that I didn’t need to strain the chocolate so I didn’t include that in the instructions. (I made a note above why the photo of that is included in the post.) Glad you liked the ice cream!

  • J
    June 27, 2018 7:58pm

    Made the ice cream using an imported Dutch processed Cocoa (Droste) and used Frangelico liqueur. It had a visually stunning rich dark colour but was a little hard. Served it with roasted hazelnuts, broken up sake-flavored kit-kats and dulce de leche sauce. Everyone loved it.

  • BakerRB
    June 29, 2018 4:23pm

    Thanks for highlighting this recipe. It was delicious — like a really cold truffle.

  • Kirsten
    July 3, 2018 12:23am

    Hi David–

    Have you ever made chocolate ice cream with the Coeur de Guanaja from Valrhona? Would love your thoughts on how to use it in a recipe instead of cocoa powder. I almost feel I could take this recipe and sub in for the total weight of both the chocolate and the cocoa powder. What do you think?

    • July 3, 2018 3:37pm
      David Lebovitz

      My Chocolate ice cream recipe in The Perfect Scoop uses more chocolate (and less cocoa powder) than this recipe. You might want to give that recipe a try, since it features the chocolate more than the cocoa powder.

      • Kirsten
        July 3, 2018 7:26pm

        Thanks! I’ll give it a try!

  • Juanita
    July 11, 2018 5:07am

    This is Very Serious chocolate ice cream. Seriously. Delicious and decadent!