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Crème Fraîche, Orange, and Chocolate Ice Cream

Crème Fraîche, Orange, and Chocolate Ice Cream

Renée Robinson

Who Doesn’t Love Great Ice Cream?

We eat ice cream throughout the entire year. It doesn’t matter what the outside temperature happens to be, ice cream is a constant. And while I have my favorite brands and flavors, I also love to make my own.

My son, Devin, started tinkering with homemade ice cream several years ago and finally came up with what I think is the best ice cream base recipe. It’s a combination of ingredients and techniques which comprises elements from recipes by Milk Street, Jeni Britton Bauer, etc. And while we commonly change out the amounts and types of sweeteners, flavorings, etc., we never change the addition of crème fraîche. It is the game changer where homemade ice creams are concerned. 

Besides contributing to the exceptionally creamy texture, it also adds a tanginess to the flavor that sets the ice cream apart from any that I can purchase. So, when I get a craving for this, we make it ourselves. And because homemade crème fraîche is so easy to make, I seem to most always have some on hand. Just add a couple tablespoons of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream, stir, cover loosely, and let sit at room temperature for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours until it’s nice and thick and tangy. That’s all there is to it.

This time around I wanted to serve a small scoop with a tart I was making and decided that orange and chocolate were called for. I always keep strips of candied orange peel in my freezer, so that was a no brainer. And because I was going to have chunks of chocolate in the ice cream I didn’t want chunks of anything else. So, I cut the candied peel into very thin slivers. I wanted them to more or less meld into the ice cream. I also added a couple tablespoons of Grand Marnier because it just made sense. Grand Marnier has such deep and nuanced flavors, it seemed like a perfect addition.

Ingredients for Crème Fraîche, Orange, and Chocolate Ice Cream

I don’t know if you’ve ever added a chopped bar of chocolate to a frozen dessert, but if you have, then you know what I’m talking about when I say it doesn’t produce a very good result. When frozen, the chocolate has a graininess that’s very unappealing and it’s flavor is weird. You almost can’t deduce any real chocolate flavor. Instead, you have rock hard bits of almost flavorless and grainy chocolate. 

I did a little research and came upon an article by the great Alice Medrich in which she explains what’s happening. The problem is that chocolate bars are tempered in order to prevent them from melting at room temperature and that’s why you end up with the unappealing texture and lack of flavor when they’re frozen. She says that ice cream manufacturers solve this problem by adding coconut oil to the chocolate, but this dilutes the chocolate and makes it taste cheap. 

Chocolate Prepped in a Pan

The easy fix is to destroy the temper of the chocolate by first melting it, spreading it out thinly and freezing it before chopping it up and adding it to the ice cream. This results in hard bits of chocolate that shatter when you bite into them and instantly melt from the temperature inside your mouth, which provides you with a big burst of chocolate flavor. This added a step to my ice cream recipe, but it’s an easy one. I simply melted the chocolate in my microwave, spread it on a parchment lined small sheet pan and put it in the freezer until I needed it.

Well, what’s the outcome? Orange and chocolate are a classic combination for an obvious reason. They play extremely well together. Add them to a creamy and tangy ice cream base, along with the Grand Marnier, and you’ve got one helluva great ice cream. That step of melting and freezing the chocolate bar? Yeah, it worked perfectly and was just as she described. Biting into those chocolate shards is heavenly. They melt on contact and contribute greatly to the overall specialness of this ice cream. I will most definitely be making it again, as we’ve now deemed it a favorite.  

Crème Fraîche, Orange, and Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Ice cream made with crème fraîche, slivered candied orange peel, shards of chocolate, and Grand Marnier. The creamiest homemade ice cream you'll ever taste.

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  • 2 cups half and half, divided

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1/3 cup corn syrup

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt

  • 2 cups crème fraîche

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate bar

  • 1/2 cup very thinly slivered candied orange peel, plus more for garnishing


  • Melt the chocolate bar in the microwave in 15 second increments or over a pan of simmering water. Once it is fully melted and smooth, pour it onto a parchment lined sheet pan and spread it out thinly. Place in the freezer until it is frozen solid. This doesn’t take long, only about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and chop it coarsely. Put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to stir it into the churned ice cream.
  • In a small bowl, stir together until smooth, the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of the half and half. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, warm the remaining half and half and the corn syrup until it begins to steam. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to whisk until it comes to the boil. Let bubble for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.
  • In a large bowl, whip the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined and frothy. You can use either a hand mixer or a whisk for this step. I use the hand mixer because it’s faster and easier. Slowly ladle in the hot half and half mixture, while beating on low speed. Don’t add too much in the beginning because you don’t want to scramble the eggs. Once you’ve added about half, you can pour in the rest. Mix well. Add the crème fraîche and stir well until completely blended. Stir in the vanilla extract and Grand Mariner. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and chill until very cold. I prefer to let it sit overnight as I think it develops more flavor, but if I'm rushed I will put it into a ziplock bag and stash it in the freezer for a couple of hours, sloshing it around periodically to make sure it doesn’t freeze.
  • Once it is very cold, churn in your ice cream maker, according to your particular brand’s directions. I have a Breville which has its own compressor and I like to do it in 2 batches to make sure it doesn’t over fill the freezing can. Near the end of the churning time, add the candied orange peel. I prefer mixing in the chocolate pieces by hand after I’ve removed it from the churn. Place in a freezer container and freeze for at least 4 hours until it’s nice and firm. Serve in scoops and garnish with additional slivers of candied orange peel. Enjoy!

4 Responses

  1. This looks fantastic. Would it work with simple syrup or commercial golden syrup instead of corn syrup? (The fructose in corn syrup is a problem for my gut.)

    1. Hi, Anne. I’ve used honey many times with great success in the base recipe. I wouldn’t use simply syrup as the viscosity is very different. Golden syrup would also work, if the flavor is what you’d like. Please let me know how you like it if you give it a try. Thank you!

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