How To: Make Icecream Northern Style {outside in -30}

dark chocolate icecream

In anticipation of a winter North of 60, Jesse developed the dream of churning icecream outside in the snow. With temperatures as cold as this (-29˚C right now) it’s like walking around in a blast freezer (albeit a very very dry one) certainly cold enough to churn ice-cream on the deck. So when Jesse returned from a flight down south with a carton of heavy cream and some locally hatched eggs (would you believe it? Chickens in this weather..), I knew exactly what he had in mind.

We were blessed earlier this week with a wonderful care package from friends in NZ, with all sorts of baking tools and treats – Jesse was most excited for our all time favourite Whittakers Dark Ghana 72% Chocolate, the vital ingredient for a perfect dark chocolate icecream.

And so we rose early Saturday morning to get the process underway. (No I lie. We waited for sunrise before even considering getting dressed and stepping outdoors. This was about 11am today, and was a rather dismal few hours of ‘sunlight’ with no glimpse of sun, just white. White, white everywhere.)

dark chocolate icecream

How to make icecream Northern-style

Step 1: Wait for a cold day. * We attempted making icecream at -20 and it took far too long to chill. Today’s temperatures sat just below -30 which called for about 3 hours (4 – 5 churns) to become firm icecream. Will try this again on a -40 day (plenty of those to come…) and hope to churn it into ice-cream in one go. *Perhaps the initial step should read ‘move to the arctic.’

churn, churn, churn

Step 2: Prepare the chocolate custard for the ice-cream as per recipe and leave in fridge to chill. Place churning bowl outside to pre-freeze.

still liquid

Step 3: Dress warm. Gloves are a must if using a metal spoon to churn…

leave to chill outside in -30˚C

Step 4: Pour chilled chocolate custard into pre-frozen bowl and leave outside, covered, until starting to firm around the edges – at this temperature is takes about an hour. Stir every half hour to follow until too thick to churn (now’s a good time to take a long, mid-afternoon trudge through the snow). Transfer to freezer-proof dish or plastic container, smooth the top, and leave in freezer.

churned into icecream

Step 5: Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Scoop, serve and enjoy.

the perfect scoop

Dark Ghana Chocolate Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Annie-Eats, originally from David Lebovitz

We became homemade icecream converts when my mother received an icecream maker for her birthday one year. After tasting the true thing, we found we could never go back to conventional, commercial supermarket icecream. The beauty of homemade lies not so much in the fact that there are no mysterious ingredients (do I even want to know what modified milk ingredients are?) but that the richness and the intensity of the flavours means less really is more.

Without our own icecream maker we started hand churning our own simple vanilla bean icecream to have on hand, and were pleased with how incredibly simple this actually was. Ideally, the chilled custard will be continuously churned as it freezes (how an icecream maker works). When making it by hand, this means removing it from the freezer every 30 minutes to churn in order to mix the partly frozen parts into the not-yet-frozen parts. Even on the occasions that we are too lazy to churn it those extra few times, the results are always divine, far superior to anything Tip Top or Breyers can produce.

Once you have mastered simple vanilla bean icecream, or this rich, dark chocolate, the world is your oyster. David Lebovitz has a huge range of recipes for icecreams, sorbets, froyos and sauces to meet any icecream craving.

2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tbsp cocoa powder
140g Whittakers Dark Ghana chocolate, finely chopped (or use any high quality dark chocolate)
1 cup whole milk (3% in Canada, dark blue top in NZ)
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder.  Warm over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the cocoa.   Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.  Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream.  Transfer this mixture to a medium-large mixing bowl.  Set a fine mesh sieve over the top.

In the same saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium-low heat.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  When the milk mixture is warm, gradually whisk into the egg yolks, beating constantly.  Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and continue heating over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reads 170-175° F on an instant-read thermometer (this took us way longer than anticipated – be patient, it will thicken eventually).  Remove from the heat, pour through the mesh sieve into the chocolate-cream mixture and stir to blend.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

Transfer to pre-frozen bowl and leave outside (or, for those in milder climates, in freezer) for one hour or until starting to thicken and freeze around the edges. Churn by hand every 30 minutes thereafter until thick and evenly frozen. Transfer to freezer dish and store in freezer. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

13 thoughts

    • To be honest, I can barely tell the difference between hand churned and machine churned. One less single-use appliance I say! Nevertheless, if you are so lucky no doubt you will utilise it to the max!

  1. I love it Christina! I never tried making icecream outside when I lived in Canada, what a great idea. I think I will make this for Christmas lunch to go with our fresh berries (sorry) but will have to make a vanilla batch too as hubby doesn’t like chocolate ice cream – I know crazy hey!

    • Oh you’ll be enjoying icecream and berries outside in the warm NZ sunshine on Christmas! Ha, there actually are ‘fresh’ berries at the grocer here, at an exorbidant price, with fluffy grey spots on them :S Annies-Eats has two excellent vanilla recipes – we love the French Vanilla using NZ vanilla paste (Heilala).

  2. I like your ice-cream maker very much! I’m not jealous it’s almost -30, yet I’m kind if sad my kids haven’t experienced anything colder than rain… My 3 year old asked today if reindeer can come if there is no snow.. He REALLY hopes Santa will stop by San Francisco!

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