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Mary Randolph’s Chocolate Ice Cream

By Damon Lee Fowler


Difficulty: Medium

Prep time: 12 hours

Cook time: 5 minutes

Servings: 6


  • ¼ pound (four 1-ounce squares) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream (minimum 36% milk fat)
  • 1 whole vanilla bean (see notes on other flavors below)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • salt
  • 6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten


Finely grate the chocolate onto a sheet of wax paper. Prepare the bottom of a double boiler with simmering water. In the top pot, over direct heat, bring the milk, cream, and vanilla bean almost to a boil, stirring it constantly. Add the sugar and a tiny pinch of salt, stirring until it dissolves, and then put it over the simmering water.

Take up the wax paper, fold two edges together to make a funnel, and pour the chocolate slowly into the hot milk, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until it has completely melted.

Beat a cup of hot liquid into the egg yolks and stir them into the remaining hot liquid. Cook, stirring it constantly, until it’s lightly thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and stir it until slightly cooled, about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (it can be rinsed, dried, and reused). Let cool completely, cover, and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Prepare an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions and freeze the cream until it is almost set—a little stiffer than soft-serve ice cream.

To serve the ice cream as Mrs. Randolph would have done pack it into a mold; otherwise, use any freezer-proof container. Freeze until set. If molded, dip the mold in a basin of hot water or wrap it with a towel heated in a clothes dryer. Invert over a serving plate and lift off the mold. If it won’t come off, dip the mold again or re-warm the towel and wrap it for a minute or so more. If not molded, scoop it as you would any other ice cream.

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