Dark, dense, and oh-so-delicious: Chocolate Decadence

Now THIS, friends, is what I call chocolate ice cream.

Spare me the wimpy, beige-tone “frozen desserts” that masquerade as chocolate.

Mass-market ice cream with an ingredient label like this: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Whey, Buttermilk, Mono & Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Flavors, Carob Bean Gum, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan.

With cocoa the sixth ingredient down, it’s no wonder the ice cream is more milk than chocolate.

Hey, if you happen to like milk chocolate, then store-bought ice cream is probably right up your alley.

But me? I’m a dark chocoholic, and the only chocolate that passes my lips is dark as… well, as a vanilla bean, in a serendipitous pairing of complementary flavors.

The following recipe started out as Chocolate Intemperance, a chocolate smoothie. And indeed, the two share the same ingredients.

But where Intemperance is served as is, or just slightly frozen (the intemperance comes from the vodka you’re invited to stir in), Decadence is fully frozen: smooth, spoonable, and shamelessly seductive.

And, what about the name, Chocolate Decadence? It’s overworked, for sure; it seems every restaurant dessert featuring even a hint of chocolate has been given the over-the-top “decadence” label.

But this ultra-smooth, dense ice cream truly is decadent, meeting at least one of the word’s definitions: “downfall.” If you’re dieting — this ice cream will surely be your downfall!

Whisk together the following, in a medium-sized saucepan:

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Instant ClearJel or cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Gradually whisk in 1 cup cold water, stirring until smooth.

Add 1 tablespoon vanilla; or 1 tablespoon espresso powder, as I’m doing here; or 1 teaspoon cinnamon (all optional).

Whisk in 2 cups (1 pint) whole milk. That’s right, this ice cream has no cream; it’s mostly chocolate, which is why it’s so delectably dark.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently as it warms, then almost constantly as it becomes hot; you don’t want anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Next – more chocolate!

I’m going to use Peter’s Burgundy Chunks here, my favorite all-purpose semisweet chocolate. Since the cocoa is unsweetened, I didn’t want to go TOO dark with the solid chocolate; and Peter’s has really nice flavor, IMHO.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add 1 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips; those are the aforementioned Burgundy chunks I’m stirring in. Stir until the chocolate melts completely.

Pour the chocolate into a bowl, and stir occasionally as it cools, to prevent a skin from forming.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the chocolate, again to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until it’s well chilled; overnight is good.

Make sure the canister for your ice cream maker is in the freezer, too; it needs to be as cold as it can be.

Next day, pour the chocolate into the ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

You’ll see the ice cream gradually thicken, over the course of about 20 to 25 minutes. When it’s as thick as you like, add 1/4 cup coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlua) or the liqueur of your choice.

This step is optional, and you can certainly skip it if you prefer your ice cream alcohol-free. But liqueur not only enhances the flavor of the ice cream, it helps its texture.

Most homemade ice cream becomes rock-hard when stored in the freezer longer than 6 hours or so; this one, with the addition of liqueur, remains nicely scoopable indefinitely. Why? The alcohol in the liqueur acts as anti-freeze.

Serve the ice cream immediately, if desired; it will be very soft. I’ve added a sprinkle of coarse white sparkling sugar, just for appearance, and a bit of crunch.

For harder ice cream, store in the freezer. Ice cream without liqueur will become nicely hard in 3 hours. With the addition of liqueur, it will take 6 hours or more to become quite solid.

Ice cream without liqueur will become rock-hard within 5 hours or so; to soften, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before serving.

Interested in more ice cream recipes? Check out Strawberry Sorbet, Sorbet Two Ways, Coconut Ice Cream, Mocha Madness, Pineapple-Coconut Gelato, and Vanilla Frozen Yogurt.

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Decadence.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Anauta

    I tried this recipe and used three tablespoons of Knox unflavored gelatin. I let it cool overnight in the fridge and it solidifies like a hard pudding. I could cut it with a knife. Wanted to add the Kahula but it was too solid.
    Did I use the wrong gelatin? And can I melt it again and add the Kahlua to soften the texture?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Anauta, we’re sorry to hear the texture of this ice cream didn’t turn out as expected. We don’t recommend using gelatin in this recipe. Instead, you should use 3 tablespoons of Instant ClearJel or cornstarch. This will give you a creamy, pleasant consistency that is reminiscent of classic soft serve ice cream. We hope you have better luck next time. Kye@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Karen,
      We haven’t tried this with arrowroot, but if you do want to give it a go, it would be the same amount of arrowroot as Instant ClearJel. Keep us posted! ~ MJ

  2. Dorothy

    Don’t have an ice ream machine. Afraid my chocoholic tendencies would take over my weakened self control. This sounds so yummy. No way to make without a machine I guess. How did the decadent chocolate ice cream cone out using almond or other dairy free milk. I will have to look into almond,cream or coconut . Sounds like you out,d lighten your coffee with that. If I can find it.

  3. Debi

    Boo hoo. This was my first ever King Arthur recipe fail.Finished product was grainy and gritty, nice flavor but awful texture. Thoughts?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Debi- Creamy ice cream depends on the lactose crystals freezing evenly and smoothly, to leave a smooth texture. Additives like chocolate or espresso powder that fail to dissolve fully can cause the lactose crystals’ nuclei to form around the particles, creating a sandy texture. Another cause is a warm base that is put in the ice cream machine. Hope this helps understand the cause- and how to fix it for the next delicious batch- Laurie@KAF

  4. Stephen

    Would it work to add a half cup or cup of walnuts or pecans to this recipe? Would I add them to the ice cream maker towards the end of the churning?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes indeed, sounds delicious – I think I’d just stir the nuts in by hand, though, removing the churning blade first, as they might cause it to jam. Enjoy! PJH

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