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I was a sucker for soft-serve ice cream when I was a kid. The machine that made those swirly cones at Carvel mesmerized me, as well as on the Mister Softee truck, although they didn’t drive around our neighborhood when I was a kid. (Those were the days of the Good Humor truck.) That was how I discovered sprinkles, which we called jimmies in New England, as well as a popsicle covered with lots and lots of sweet, shredded coconut, which I think at the time cost 35¢, and was the most expensive thing on the metal menu posted on the back of the truck.

But I later got hooked on the crispy shell coating that was used to coat soft serve ice cream cones as well. I didn’t quite know how they were able to upend a cone of ice cream and dip it into the vat of glossy chocolate, or what made it harden, but I later found out those sprinkles (or jimmies) that I loved so much, contained shellac, which comes from bugs. Neither deterred me, but soon my allegiances were torn between chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate coating

Now that I’m a well-adjusted adult, I realize that chocolate comes in many forms, and types, and even colors, and I like them all, including white chocolate.

No need to leave a comment saying that you don’t like white chocolate because it’s not “real” chocolate. No one is saying it is. (Unless there’s something going on out there that no one is telling me about.) I don’t compare white chocolate to dark chocolate and think both have their place, like in the bowls I served up at home, where I spooned mint-flavored white chocolate coating over scoops of dark chocolate ice cream, giving me the best of both cocoa-colored worlds. Who can argue with that?

There’s no shellac in this topping. The magic ingredient here is coconut oil, something that you had to search out in health food stores and at multicultural grocers, but it can now be found in regular supermarkets. On a recent trip to the States, I saw that even Crisco had their own brand of organic coconut oil. Who’d a thunk it?

I grabbed a jar at my local magasin bio, where there were two varieties: Virgin and deodorized. The first tastes quite strongly of coconut, and as a coconut-lover (whether it’s shredded on the outside of popsicles, or elsewhere), I am a-ok with that flavor, especially paired with chocolate. But I don’t find it to my liking linked up with fresh mint, so I advise using the deodorized (sometimes called “refined”) coconut oil in this shell coating.

Mint flavoring can vary in intensity so you might want to add a little less than indicated, then taste, and add more if you’d like. I used Frontier brand mint flavoring, which is oil-based. Pure peppermint oil is knock-your-socks-off strong, so if you want to use that, you’ll need to dial down the amount, and add it to taste.

Don’t worry if your scoops don’t look perfect once you’ve doused them with sauce. I’m not a food stylist – I’d probably get fired if I was, because I can’t resist snacking on anything within arm’s reach – and any attitude you get over the way it looks will quickly melt into minty, chocolatey bliss, as soon as people start spooning it up.

Mint - White Chocolate Ice Cream Shell

I recommend using regular (deodorized) coconut oil for this; virgin coconut oil has a strong coconut flavor which I don't ordinarily mind, but I find it clashes a bit with the mint flavor. The mint flavoring I used was peppermint-based, but you could use one that's made from another type of mint, such as spearmint, adjusting the flavor to taste. And be sure to use real white chocolate, not products labeled "chocolate coating" or "white coating." For more on white chocolate, check out my post: What is white chocolate? I used the chocolate ice cream recipe from The Perfect Scoop, but I've linked to another recipe at the end of this post.
Course Dessert
Servings 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil, preferably refined or deodorized (see headnote)
  • 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mint flavoring (or oil-based mint flavoring)
  • Melt the coconut oil and white chocolate in a clean, dry bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the mint oil. Taste, and add more, if desired. (Mint flavorings can vary in strength and intensity.)
  • Let cool to room temperature, until it's the consistency of a runny milkshake, or buttermilk. Spoon the shell mixture over scoops of ice cream in a bowl.


Note: If the shell topping gets too thick upon sitting, rewarm it ever-so-gently (and ever-so-slightly) over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring just until it's pourable.
Storage: The white chocolate shell mixture can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks. Rewarm gently before using.

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    • Liz W.

    I’m not usually a huge fan of white chocolate because it’s so sweet, but I like the idea of pairing it with mint and chocolate. Instead of a shell, could I mix it in when I’m making the ice cream? Would it keep it’s snap?

    • Margaret Cassady

    Thanks so much for demystifying this kind of topping for us! As a teen in the ’80’s I was hooked on Magic Shell–remember that?! I’m all about texture, and that brittle crunch along with velvety ice cream is the perfect combo. Looking forward to trying it.

    And a heartfelt “merci beaucoup” for ALL your writings. As a tour guide introducing Americans to Paris, your books and blog have given me wonderful contemporary cultural insights that I share with my tour members.

    • Pia

    I normally don’t like white chocolate, but the combination of white chocolate and mint (especially as the topping for ice cream with “real” chocolate!) sounds appealing and I’ve been meaning to use some of my newly bought coconut oil on a Magic Shell-type topping.

    David, I think you meant to say “preferably refined or deodorized” instead of “2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil, preferably virgin or deodorized” in the ingredients for the recipe.

    • Chris

    Ice cream greetings, David! I really don’t like white chocolate because it’s really not chocolate, is it? LOL!!
    I don’t like it so much I’m off to make this right now! :)

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Liz W: Yes, it makes great “chips” in ice cream as well. I used some extra to do that to another batch of chocolate ice cream I made.

    Pia: Thanks. No excuse for getting “refined” and “virgin” mixed up ; )

    • Victor @

    Who’d a thunk that jimmies were coated with shellac? I only associated shellac with nail polish thing ;-) Not that I eat them much, but I will never eat them again… coconut oil sounds so much better. Thanks for the great tip. My horizons, again, just expanded.

    Would you say the coconut oil here is a ‘substitute’ for traditional tempering? Can this technique be used with ‘real’ :-) chocolate, say in chocolate candy making?

    • Gavrielle

    White chocolate-mint? You are a genius. That is all.

    • elizabeth k

    I will make this for Christmas! One holiday season I made (I think it was yours) peppermint ice cream and must have used pure peppermint as my dh said it tasted like toothpaste…more for me. Good to know.

    Sooo enjoy your writing & realness ❤️

    • Susan Wyler

    David, Don’t know if you remember me, but I was a culinary professional for years. Ate at Rotisserie d’Argent this week, and it was not a pleasant experience. Service was extremely poor,. Tiny glasses for wine; next table had larger glasses for same wine. Food was poor. Excellent sauteed chanterelles, but quenelles mealy and under seasoned. Grilled pigeon overcooked twice, with most of breast meat missing. Roast potatoes insipid–with no hint of garlic or onion as promised. I’m sure you care; so wanted to offer feedback.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Sorry you didn’t have a great experience there. I did point out some of the flaws and inconsistencies (I wonder if you went on a Sunday, which was when the food was noticeably not as good, which may have been because the chef wasn’t there?) but overall, I had a good experience. The most recent time I went with two friends who are cookbook editors and food writers and they liked it, and I asked them at the end, “Would you come back here?” And they both said, “Yes.” So I wrote it up as an address that people might want to check out in Paris. Appreciate your feedback, too.

    • Taste of France

    Another way to have your shell is to dip balloons in the chocolate to create little chocolate or white chocolate bowls.

    • Krystal

    We’ve been making magic shell in single-serving form for our ice cream for the past few years (chocolate chips + a little coconut oil, microwaved for one minute; never measured, just eyeballed). I’ve never thought of using white chocolate though! I’m not a fan of mint+chocolate/white chocolate, but I bet plain white chocolate would be delicious over some pumpkin ice cream. I’ll have to try your larger recipe – I had no idea it would keep.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Since there’s no dairy in this, or nothing that would spoil quickly, it’s ok to make this in the quantity I listed and to keep it around a bit longer. Hope you like it!

    • Jules

    I worked at the DQ all thru high school in the late 80’s and when we opened the big box of chocolate jimmies, we all gagged at the funky foot smell they gave off! You would think that would’ve turned me off of them, but they continued to coat my cones until now! No voluntary bug eating for me!

    • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    I love a good chocolate shell–it makes everything seem much grander! I’ve never thought about making a white chocolate one, let alone a mint one! Mint is my favorite flavor in ice cream, so you better believe this will be made in the next few weeks over here xoxo

    • anna*

    Yum! I’m not sure if it’s just a Midwestern US though, but we have something called dilly bars at some Dairy Queens, but sadly no longer all of them… although there are some knock offs by a different name at other ice cream places. It’s basically a large round disc of ice cream on a popsicle stick dipped in a shell like you’ve described here. I *might* have to try to make them myself with the ingredients you listed.

    • johanna

    Back in the late 50’s Dairy Queen had a mint shell that was actually green. If I remember correctly it was pretty good.

    • Barb Ohara

    Will tis harden in the refrigerator if I follow and coat inside of ice cream bowls which will hold dips for cookies, prevent sogginess and be able to eat coated bowl when finished. Need to make 50 next week.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not tried it so you may want to test it out to see if it hardens. Let us know how it turns out!

    • Dawn

    Hi I tried this with orange oil as my son and grandson love creamsicles
    I made ice cream sandwiches with vanilla ice cream and dipped half in the orange magic shell

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Good idea…glad it was a hit!


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