Brain Freeze

I’ve got ice cream on the brain. I finally convinced myself I should buy an ice cream book I’ve been wanting for a while now, and ended up with another one to peruse in the meantime. My birthday is in a little over a week and I’m still crossing my fingers for an ice cream maker.

Looks like chocolate...
Looks like chocolate...

I’ve definitely made my share of custard ice creams and even dabbled in the world of frozen yogurt and vegan-ish alternative treats, but hadn’t tried a Philadelphia-style ice cream yet – that is, an ice cream made with only cream, milk, sugar and flavor (and a healthy amount of alcohol to keep it soft). I wanted to whip up a little quick, tasty ice cream and didn’t have a bowl full of egg yolks to get rid of, so I decided to see if I could make an acceptable chocolate ice cream.

With a twist?
With a twist?

Starting with 1 Tbsp and gradually whisking in what amounted to 1/4 cup of good-quality cocoa powder, I ultimately got the creamy mixture as chocolatey as it needed to be. I was interested in the combination of chocolate and cayenne, so I added a bit. I also stirred in some almond extract, for the cherry flavor which goes nicely with both chocolate and cayenne. Never one to shy away from going for that one last little detail, I beat in some cacao nibs on the last “churning” of this ice cream. Just in case the cocoa powder wasn’t enough.

Softer than usual.
Softer than usual.

I halved what seemed to be the recipe for the majority of Philly-style ice creams, but used a full 2 Tbsp of alcohol like I would in one of my regular recipes. I think that’s what keeps this ice cream so scoopable and soft.

Chocolate-Cayenne Ice Cream

Hooray for completely unnecessary cacao nibs!
Hooray for completely unnecessary cacao nibs!
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. Dash of fine salt
  5. 1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
  6. 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  7. 1/8 tsp almond extract
  8. 2 Tbsp vodka
  9. 1 Tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

Freeze a medium plastic or stainless steel bowl for 30 minutes or so. Pour in the cream, milk and sugar and whisk together. Gradually whisk in everything but the cacao nibs, cover and freeze for an hour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir thoroughly. Repeat once every hour until the ice cream is almost completely solid (won’t be very solid but also no longer liquid). Stir in the cacao nibs and freeze until firm enough to scoop.

I really like this method making ice cream. It’s not really any more ice crystally than the custard-based ice creams, and tastes wonderfully, crunchily chocolatey with a hint of cherry and a lingering heat.


  1. Love the sound of cayenne pepper and those cocoa nibs. I didn’t realise these yolkless ice-creams were called ‘philadelphia’ style. Must try!

  2. I didn’t realise that alcohol keep ice cream soft… hmmm… another good excuse for a bit of vodka :) and cacao nibs – i am all for that! :)

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