A couple of years ago, I discovered the one treat that surpassed all other frozen desserts I had tasted before: Dark Chocolate Gelato. Sounds quite modest, doesn’t it? I assure you, this gelato’s anything but. Dark chocolate is my weeknight go-to dessert: I end most meals with a square of 70% chocolate. I eat it slowly, let it melt on my tongue and coat my mouth with goodness. I find it to be the perfect palate cleanser: a bite of bittersweetness that leaves me happy and satisfied. This gelato is everything a square of dark chocolate is–rich, silky, and indulgent–with the bonus of being refreshing, too. It’s an impressive dessert to serve to company, and by far my most popular gelato flavor I make.
The secret to this gelato is the use of best quality dark cocoa powder. This ingredient defines the taste of the finished product, but also its gorgeous, deep, dark brown color. I recommend Valrhona’s, which is incredibly rich and smooth. Don’t fear the price tag, one package will last you a long time and will bring your favorite chocolate desserts from good to exceptional.
I make all my gelato with lactose-free milk and cream, which work perfectly because both products can withstand being boiled without turning grainy. If you want to avoid milk altogether, I suggest you try using coconut cream instead. It has a wonderful richness and it won’t diminish the chocolate kick of the gelato. You can also use almond, soy or rice milks–just make sure to use a type of milk that can be boiled. In case you’re wondering, the addition of liqueur is a little trick I learned from ice cream master David Lebovitz: it helps keep a scoopable texture even after several days in the freezer. Kalhuà, a sweet coffee-flavored liquor, complements chocolate really well, but you can also use a neutral spirit such as vodka, or omit it completely.
Now go ahead, take the churner out, and prepare for the strongest hit of cocoa you’ll ever taste, short of biting into a square of dark chocolate.
Never made gelato before? Curious about what makes gelato different from ice cream? Check out my detailed video class: How to Make Gelato: Tips and Recipes to Make the Delightful Italian Frozen Treat. In it, you’ll find out what makes gelato different from ice cream, how to make a versatile gelato base you can turn into a variety of flavors, and all my secrets and tips to churn and serve outstanding gelato. I even share how to make dairy-free vegan gelato! In short, it’s a very thorough, colorful class that will quickly turn you into a gelato master. Watch Now!
Makes 2 quarts [1.89 L].
The strongest hit of cocoa you’ll ever taste, short of biting into a square of dark chocolate.
In a medium saucepan, whisk 1¼ cup [310 ml] of the milk with the cream, sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. When it boils, lower the heat to the minimum and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Mix in the coffee liqueur, if using, and finally, whisk in the remaining milk. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for a few hours until thoroughly cold.
Strain the gelato base through a fine mesh strainer (straining the mixture will ensure a silky smooth gelato). Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Stop the machine when the gelato is icy but still soft.
Transfer the gelato to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about two hours. The gelato will keep, frozen, for up to two weeks. Always take the gelato out to room temperature 10 to 15 minutes before serving to soften it and make it easier to scoop.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin.