Better Chocolate Chunks for Your Ice Cream 

By Alice Medrich


Makes 1 baking sheet, enough for 3 to 4 cups (710 to 950 milliliters) of ice cream


Recipes for homemade chocolate chip ice cream frequently recommend adding a chopped-up bar of chocolate—but frozen bits of even the highest-quality chocolate feel hard and gritty in your mouth. You can do better! 

Ice cream manufacturers solve the problem by adding coconut oil to make the chocolate melt faster after you bite, but the oil dilutes the flavor. Here’s a solution: If you want crunchy chunks or shards that shatter and then melt with a big burst of chocolate flavor (even in a rich chocolate ice cream), it’s better to melt the chocolate, then chill it and chop it. 

Melting the chocolate destroys the chocolate’s temper, lowering its melting point and diminishing its ability to harden except when chilled. This just means that the chocolate will be brittle and crunchy in cold ice cream, but will soften in the warmth of your mouth, releasing its flavor more quickly than do frozen bits of a chocolate bar. Tricky but good, right? 

You could even make fudgy instead of crunchy chunks by mixing the melted chocolate with water. Yes, you heard that right: It works so long as you add enough water for the cacao percentage of your chocolate. But more on that in the recipe. 


4 ounces (115g) milk or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons water, plus extra as needed (optional, if you want fudgy chunks) 

1. In a stainless-steel bowl set over a saucepan of not quite simmering water, melt the chocolate and, if you want fudgy rather than crunchy chunks, add the water, stirring frequently. (The higher the cacao percentage, the more water will be needed to prevent the chocolate mixture from seizing up. Start with 2 tablespoons of water for milk chocolate or dark chocolate with up to 60 percent cacao; for 66 to 72 percent cacao, at least an additional tablespoon of water will be needed.) Once the chocolate is melted, stir in a few teaspoons of warm water, as necessary, to make a smooth, fluid mixture; if it’s stiff or curdled, add the water and stir until smooth. 

2. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture onto a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Spread into a thin, even layer. 

3. Freeze the baking sheet until the chocolate is firm. Chop the chocolate into bits or shards, put them in a plastic bag, and return to the freezer until needed. 


Adapted from Seriously Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Ice Cream & Friends: 60 Recipes & Riffs by the Editors of Food52, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit: James Ransom © 2017


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Lauren Goldstein