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 was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. chinchillalover

    YUM.Would it make much of a difference if you used skim milk instead of whole?

    It’ll be icier, less creamy – but go for it, it’ll still taste wonderful! PJH

  2. Kathleen

    Mmmm. This sounds similar Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream (from Gourmet Cookbook) which is absolutely delicious (and intensely chocolate) but takes a lot of time to make. This sounds much simpler–I must try it!

  3. AnneInWA


    This looks amazing. I make a chocolate ice cream with melted chocolate, dark chocolate powder, heavy whipping cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla and whole milk. It is our absolute favorite (especially since we use KAF’s black chocolate powder!). I also make a version where I mix in some of KAF’s malt powder right before freezing in my ice cream machines (yes that is machines, I have two which comes in handy with 5 kids!).

    However, this recipe looks wonderful! As soon as my dark chocolate malt is finished in the ice cream makers today and safely tucked away in the freezer, I will be making this! So now I have yet another project for tomorrow!

    Just a few questions. First, if I use dark chocolate chips, will that change the consistancy because of the stabilizers in the chips? Also, Could I use half and half instead of the whole milk? I have some in the fridge that I need to use up!

    Thanks PJ for all your great work! Today I am making your homemade hamburger buns and New England hot dog buns (since those are the absolute best!).

    Anne, TWO ice cream machines – you go, girl! It’s great to have one bucket in the freezer, ready to go, while the other’s in use, isn’t it? Chocolate chips should be just fine; once they melt and go into the mixture with everything else, they won’t clump up. And half and half would be absolutely over-the-top deluxe – I say go for it, and Happy Memorial Day! :) PJH

  4. Kim

    I’ve always avoided chocolate ice cream as it doesn’t taste like chocolate to me. A friend says the same thing. However, we are both willing to try this version to help us change our minds. Thanks!
    I hope it works!!!! ~Amy

  5. KristiBowmanDesign

    This looks amazing. I can sometimes tolerat it but try not to do dairy, I wonder how rice milk would work. Might have to give it a try and let you know. Now where is that ice cream maker… Thank you!
    You can certainly try rice milk, but it will alter the flavor and texture a bit. ~Amy

  6. SylviaKaur

    Please let us know how it goes with dairy-free “milk!” I love the idea of this recipe with rice, hemp, almond, or coconut milk instead…

  7. Brenda

    Or coconut milk and almond cream. I’ve heard that makes an excellent dairy-free chocolate ice cream.

  8. venezia

    I’m going to make this with Heavy Whipping Creme, but I must say, I’m like DebSmithMoore, after just reading this recipe, that cigarette sounds like a must, and I don’t smoke either…!!!

  9. chinchillalover

    I made and it was absolutely delicious and creamy.It was very rich and my little brother was so anxiuos to eat it he almost ran off with one TINY scoop.

  10. JolynB

    Made it and used Godiva Chocolate liqueur. It reminded my husband and me of Fudgesicles, only better. Yummy. PJ, thank you for sharing this pudding base and passing along the idea of making it into ice cream.

  11. laura7543

    I’m not a liqueur fan – is there anything else you can suggest to keep it from getting so hard in the freezer? Thanks!

    Laura, any kind of alcoholic beverage should work; the higher the proof, the less you have to use. If you can’t use alcohol, then I’d say no, I don’t know of another “edible antifreeze.” :) PJH

  12. tikidoc

    This one sounds great, PJ! My family got me a new fancy ice cream maker for Mother’s Day (ulterior motives?) and I am very much a dark chocolate girl! Not to mention the fact that I have a couple of goats giving us about a gallon of milk a day. Goat milk makes fabulous, creamy ice cream.

    Wow – now how can we work goat” into this ice cream title? “I Kid You Not Chocolate Decadence?” :) PJH

  13. acandm

    Instead of vanilla, could “Creamy Hazelnut” flavoring be added?
    Yes, absolutely add this wonderful flavor or any other you would like. The possibilities are wide open. Have fun! ~Amy

  14. marilynbuel

    This is probably the most beautiful chocolate ice cream I have ever seen! It is so shiny and creamy–looks like it should be in a display case in a Gelataria in Italy. I used Kahlua and half bittersweet and half milk chocolate with the espresso powder. I cannot believe that this dessert is so creamy with just whole milk–INCREDIBLE!!

    Marilyn, that’s gelato for you – less air, more color. Glad you like it – PJH

  15. debdevo

    I have resisted buying an ice cream maker, low…these many years now. But you have done it…this recipe sucked me RIGHT IN and my husband is buying one on his errands today. Dinner company and ice cream tomorrow…I can’t wait!

  16. tshores55

    I make ice cream with maltitol and maltitol syrup; it never freezes rock hard. For sugarfree diets–but it does enforce portion control. It’s just as delicious, too.

  17. MGW960W

    This tastes like frozen fudge! It’s very, very rich. I added in toasted almonds and Heath Toffee Chips after it was almost frozen, and used chocolate chips for the solid chocolate and vanilla extract for the flavoring. I think it is too rich to use as a whole serving, but would be good as a small addition to vanilla ice cream, almost as you would use chocolate sauce. It was easier to make than I thought it would be and certainly worth a try for any chocoholic.

  18. debbey

    knowledge about liqueur is negligible as we are tetotalers, so what is the substitute for liquer ? can i use brandy and in what proportion? we get cadbury low fat cocoa powder which has 99.97% cocoa solid in it, can i use this product for this tempting icecream?
    piease please reply soon as i am very eager to make this icecream.
    That is a very good question, Debbey. Kahlua is not straight alcohol so you can’t just replace 1/4 c. Kahlua with 1/4 c. brandy. Kahlua is made up of coffee, sugar, vanilla and alcohol. I know you can make your own coffee liquor, but never having done that, I can not advise! I am going to ask for PJ’s opinion on a non-alcoholic substitution or using brandy. Regarding the cocoa, that should be fine. Elisabeth

    Debbey, since it sounds like you’re willing to use brandy, use 2 tablespoons. As Elisabeth says it’s generally higher proof than Kahlua. If you want to leave it out entirely, that’s OK, too; it just means you’ll need to take your ice cream out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, to let it soften a bit. Enjoy! PJH

  19. meenakshi

    thanks a ton for repyling my queries and giving your valuable advice.
    i have a request can you please elaborate on coffee liquer topic like how is it taken , what is the time is it to be taken like after meals or any time of the day, is it to be consumed direct from the bottle or mix with something? i am really novice on this subject , we get kahula in india but dont know the use of it?
    i would appreciate if you could throw some light on this topic.

    Meenakshi, Kahlua is an alcoholic beverage, meant to be enjoyed later in the day – say, before or after dinner. People usually serve it in very small glasses, only a couple of tablespoons at a time; it’s meant to be sipped. It can also be added to coffee and enjoyed that way; or drizzled sparingly over desserts. Some people like to serve it over ice, with some milk or cream mixed in. Hope this helps – PJH

  20. debbey

    thanks again for enhancing my knowledge for coffee liquer . i am sorry by mistake my other name was posted instead of Debbey.
    once again thanks.

  21. Kim

    I’ve attempted 2 batches of this and while it passes the “Does it taste like chocolate?” test with flying colors, I’ve had the same problem both times. Within a few minutes of putting it in the canister, the paddle starts to catch. (The mixture freezes against the canister wall & then accumulates to get in the way of the paddle.) I thought maybe this was due to the amount of the mixture, but I tried it with about 1/2 of the mixture the second time and the same thing happened. I even thinned it with some more milk (1/4 cup or so) and my paddle was catching after only 10 minutes. Any ideas? Do I need to thin it more?

    Hmmm, no idea why this is happening, Kim. Are you using a Cuisinart machine? If not, maybe the machine you’re using simply isn’t as strong… One thing you might try is to substitute cocoa for the solid chocolate, since solid chocolate is going to become more solid when it hits the cold bucket, while cocoa won’t. Try leaving out the solid chocolate, adding 1/2 cup cocoa, and adjusting the sugar to taste. Good luck – PJH

  22. Kim

    I made one more attempt with the last 1/2 batch to which I added more milk so it was pouring consistency (as opposed to pudding consistency before) and it worked beautifully. The paddle started catching after a good 20 minutes, which is fine. The consistency of the final product is much better & lighter, too. And it still tastes like chocolate! My ice cream machine is a Rival and every other ice cream recipe I’ve tried is pouring consistency so that’s why this one didn’t work as well until I added more liquid.

  23. "Paul from Ohio"

    OMG! And I rarely use that silly term. But THIS is THE BEST chocolate ice cream I’ve ever eaten and to be able to make it at home in such a short time and so easily is beyond belief. The ease of it all, the magic of the just purchase Cuisinart Ice Cream machine, and smooth perfect, let me count the ways I want to make this with variations of different chocolates – and Cocoa Rouge cocoa powder is a MUST for the fudge flavor. Thanks PJ. I realize this was posted last summer, but hey, I just got the Ice Cream machine and this only my second batch in it. Heaven in a bowl!

  24. lisa williams

    i tried to make this recipe and had some difficulty. i talked to a person at K.A. who said i could substitute signature secrets for the cornstarch. the mixture was pudding-like when i finished. it sat for over 24 hours in my fridge. i did freeze the machine container. after 5 hours (on and off) in the ice cream machine, it was still the same texture/consistency. i just put the whole canister in our chest freezer for another 24 hours and it is barely fudge-like in texture. maybe the altitude has affected this or the substitution of thickener??? i don’t know. it tastes great, but it’s still pudding-like not icy like gelato should be. any ideas?

    Oh goodness! The signature secrets is about half the strength of cornstarch, so you would have wanted to add more to get the same thickening ability. However, the fact that it still didn’t freeze indicates to me that if you had used a fair amount alcohol/liqueur in the base, it would have difficulty setting. Sugar also lowers the freezing temperature of ice cream while altitude won’t have much of an effect at all. Perhaps trying the recipe again with a bit more thickener will help, but if you made any other substitutions to the recipe, please let us know!

  25. Brian

    I wouldn’t call this ice cream, more like frozen pudding. I am not at all happy with the results. I was looking for a recipe that wouldn’t get hard. I had just made a batch of David Lebovitz rum raisin, which is wonderful and wanted a chocolate. I find his recipes are the best, but some get very hard in the freezer.

    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Brian. If you want a softer texture to your chocolate ice cream, the answer is something you’ve already hinted at: alcohol. Try the recipe again, only this time add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur. The alcohol will keep the ice cream from setting up as hard. Susan

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