In Search of German Chocolate Ice Cream

I have always loved German chocolate cake not for the cake itself, but rather for the wonderful filling! I could eat a bowl of the filling with no problem! A few years ago, I “discovered” Haagen Dazs German chocolate ice cream and gave it a try. It was, needless to say, delicious. My enjoyment however, was short lived because it was only a seasonal-type flavor. Over the next few years, I faithfully checked the Haagen Dazs display in EVERY grocery store I visited but to no avail. I only ran across it one other time – hardly enough to satisfy my palate! Then a few months ago, while visiting my neighborhood Smith’s, I found a German chocolate ice cream under the supermarket’s “Private Selection” label. I bought it and couldn’t wait to get home to taste it. My excitement unfortunately was short lived; the flavor fell far short of my expectations. I finally realized the only way I was going to get any gratification for my ice cream craving was if I made it myself.

Making this specialty ice cream involves a two step process: creating the German chocolate filling and preparing the chocolate ice cream. I immediately went searching for recipes. I make German chocolate filling in my kitchens at work but I don’t need twenty pounds of it! I had to find a recipe with a considerably smaller yield. I visited several websites and found similar recipes. Since I knew what ingredients the recipe should contain, I picked one from Allrecipes.com that matched my criteria. For the ice cream portion, I modified a recipe I selected from Mable and Gar Hoffman’s 1981 book, “Ice Cream”. I substituted a smaller volume of Half and Half for regular whole milk to get a richer ice cream. The end result was delicious and a suitable substitute for the Haagen Dazs version I so craved. Although the ice cream is easy to make and does involve a few more steps, it is, in my opinion, well worth the effort.

As a side note, when I try this recipe in the future, I will only cook the German chocolate filling to about 170 degrees. I will also consider using a pastry bag and piping it into the finished ice cream that I have just removed from the machine. This procedure might give me more of a gooey filling to bite into instead of a firmer chunk.

German Chocolate Filling

1 cup sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

3 egg yolks

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, evaporated milk and egg yolks in the top portion of a double boiler or in a large metal bowl. Add the butter pieces. Cook over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and it reaches 180 degrees on a thermometer. Remove from the water and stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, then put in a smaller bowl or plastic container and cover by laying plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling. Refrigerate overnight. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper and pipe or drop the filling in teaspoon size mounds onto the sheet. Freeze for at least two hours.

An important note – When I prepare German chocolate filling, whether it is at home or at work, I prefer to cook it over a double boiler instead of in a pot directly on over the heat. This allows me to do other things while the filling is cooking besides just standing over it and stirring. It also minimizes the risk of overcooking and scrambling the egg. While the filling is cooking, I prepare the ice cream base.

Chocolate Ice Cream

1-1/3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

2 cups half and half

2 eggs, beaten

3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 70% chocolate bar – remember, better quality chocolate yields a better tasting ice cream)

4 oz. evaporated milk (if you purchase a 12oz. can, you will use 8 oz. in the filling recipe and the rest in this recipe)

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in the milk and half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to simmer. Place the beaten eggs in a small bowl. Stir about half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, then pour it back into the remaining hot milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Stir in the evaporated milk, whipping cream and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold (you could technically use the mixture after it has come to room temperature but it will take longer to freeze). Pour the mixture into the ice cream canister and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the mixture is freezing, put a large metal bowl in the freezer. Loosen the German chocolate filling chunks from the wax paper. When the ice cream is done, spoon it out into the bowl you kept in the freezer and stir in the German chocolate filling chunks. Put into a container and allow the ice cream to harden. Enjoy!

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