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Very Chocolate Gelato

Ah, Gelato! And, Chocolate! Two of my very favorite things. So, how could Chocolate Gelato be anything short of delightful?

There’s so much to know about iced confections. The variety—ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, Italian ice, gelato, frozen custard. Or, the history which dates back to the early part of the first millennium when Emperor Nero feasted on iced cream treats. Let’s not forget the flavors that are too many to mention and getting more sophisticated each day. So much to chew on.

We could just not talk about it at all. We could just eat and enjoy it. That’s really what ice cream is all about. The only decision to make is the flavor and whether to enjoy it in a cup or cone. So, pick any flavor, because tomorrow (or sooner) you can choose another. Carefree. Simple. Wonderful.

Oh, one more thing. Yes, this is a blog geared to a certain foodie niche—sensitivities to gluten, dairy, and eggs and vegan cooking. But, hold on. Don’t run away yet. This isn’t a recipe with ingredients you’ve never heard of before. You’re going to want to stay and read it. And, then you’re going to want to try it. Because, it’s as good as or better than any chocolate ice cream, gelato, whatever, you’ve ever tried. Rich, creamy and chocolaty. And, delicious. So, go on, check it out.

For more coconut milk recipes visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang Friday Foodie Fix: Coconut Milk

This recipe appears as part of Chocolate round-up on Savoring The Thyme to celebrate Interantional Chocolate Day. (What a wonderful holiday!) You’ll want to visit to see lots of wonderful chocolate desserts (some of which are gluten-free).


Very Chocolate Gelato

1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk*

2.5 ounces prepared coffee or water

1/3 cup dutch processed unsweetened cocoa

3 ounces dark chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon arrowroot

½ cup sugar

pinch of salt




Reserve one cup of the coconut milk. Whisk together the remaining coconut milk, vanilla, coffee (or water, if you prefer), salt and arrowroot. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan whisk together the cup of reserved coconut milk, sugar and cocoa. Bring to a simmer over medium heat whisking frequently. Take care not to burn the mixture.

Stir in the coconut milk/coffee mixture and dark chocolate (chop the chocolate or use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips). Bring the whole thing back up to a simmer, stirring as you would a pudding. Turn down the heat and stir for a few minutes to let the liquid thicken slightly.

Take the pan off the burner and let it cool. Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl and refrigerate for a few hours until the mixture is cold.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. Mine took about 20 minutes to freeze. The gelato will be the consistency of soft serve ice cream (or just a little harder).

Place any leftover gelato in a container in the refrigerator (whoops) freezer. It will get quite hard so let it defrost about 5-10 minutes on the counter before you serve it.

This recipe made about 2 cups of gelato. I made it in my very old Krups La Glaciere ice cream freezer, which is about 1½ quarts and has the kind of bowl you chill in your freezer. If you have a bigger ice cream maker adjust the recipe (double or 1.5 times) to meet your needs.


Aword about coconut milk—they are not all created equal. First, use coconut milk—not coconut cream or light coconut milk. Go for one of the better brands. I’ve used Thai Kitchen but would like to try Chaokoh or Roland Organic. Look for one that doesn’t separate when standing. You may have your own favorite so go ahead and use that one.

And, about cocoa powders—the cocoa powders I’ve mentioned in comments below do not have a GF claim on their labels so, please use your own judgment when using them. I found one  dutch processed cocoa powder  you might consider: Nature’s Flavors. If I am able to find others I will post them.


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Reader Comments (21)

Mmmmmmm I love the pictures I was wishing for a spoon as I read! Lovely. :-)

Aug 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeena

Oh darn. I looked at the coconut milk at the grocery store, but didn't get it. I wish I had, so I could try your recipe. It looks so yummy. I'll have to wait til I go to the store again. *Sigh*

That looks sinfully good!

This gelato is beyond fabulous! I made it last night for myself and my husband. My husband doesn't have the food allergies I have (egg yolks, dairy, soy, and gluten) and he gobbled it right up. Thank you Thank you Thank you for this recipe! I just discovered your wonderful blog a few days ago, and it's now officially bookmarked. You rock.

Aug 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSas

Alisa, Heather, & Jeena - thanks for the wonderful comments. This recipe is my current favorite so I'm glad you paid it a visit and hope you try it.

Sas - It's really nice when you get to eat something that doesn't seem like it's a compromise, right? That's how I feel about this gelato. So happy you and your husband liked it!


Aug 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

MMmmmm, looks deilsh! OK, planning to make it this weekend. A couple questions...

1. Can cream of tartar be used instead of arrowroot?
2. Dark chocolate... Any particular cacao percent? Thinking i might try two batches and experiment with a really smooth belgian chocolate at 85% and 70%.
3. Coffee... light, medium, or bold?

Aug 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@spicymatzahball

Also, if I replace espresso in place of coffee, how would that affect the final product?

Aug 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSmallCarsOnly

@spicymatzahball - I wouldn't use cream of tartar. Cornstarch would be a better sub for arrowroot. As for the chocolate the darker it is the richer the ice cream will be. And, it's pretty rich already, I used a brand of chocolate chips that are gluten and milk free - Enjoy Life. I don't know what it's cacao content is. The other type of chocolate I use is Green & Black - love it and would use it in this recipe. My personal preference for this recipe would be 65% or 70% cacao. This is a chocolate lover's ice cream but I would worry about going too dark. Let me know how your experiment works!

@spicymatzaball & SmallCarsOnly We like our coffee rich and bold. So, that's what I used - a strongly brewed New York or French roast. Coffee brings out the chocolate flavor and in this recipe I couldn't taste the coffee - although I did feel the caffeine kick. I think espresso would be an interesting twist & I have no idea how it would affect the gelato. I don't think it would be negative -- if you love coffee and caffeine! Let me know the results if you try it.


Aug 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Finally made this recipe last night... c'est magnifique!!! Nancy, you are chocolate muse.

Chocolate: I used Galler dark chocolates... a 50/50 mix of Noir 70 and Noir 85, effectively making a 78% cacao dark chocolate. It was rich and tasty and definitely not too dark. Many dark chocolates get really bitter when you go that dark; Galler does not. Next time I'll try using only the Noir 85, I think the smooth dark flavor does well to offset the sweetness of the coconut milk and sugar. I achieved a very rich chocolate flavor without an overwhelming sweetness; it was just right.

Coffee: I used a dark roast starbucks blend that my friend had brewed. Not sure what blend it was, but it was brewed super super strong and had major kick. Didn't taste coffee in the finished gelato. Based on that, i'd say the stronger the coffee brew, the better.

Nancy, only one thing i was unhappy with on this recipe -- and it's a very very small complaint. The texture of the gelato was a little tiny tiny bit gritty. Any suggestions on this? I used Hershey's cocoa powder. Forgot the recipe called for 'Dutch' cocoa powder when i was shopping. Do you think this is what caused the slightly gritty texture?

Sep 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@spicymatzahball

BTW, right out the gate on first attempt, this recipe was WAY better than nearly every chocolate ice cream i've ever had!

Sep 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@spicymatzahball

Gritty is definitely not good. Mine was smooth and creamy - but I've got another batch cooling in the fridge just to double check. Some possibilities: Sugar- it shouldn't be an issue since the recipe is cooked and the sugar should melt. Arrowroot- whisk it until there are no lumps in the coconut milk. Could be the chocolate. I used Green & Black Cocoa Powder for the first batch. In today's batch I used Cacao di Pernigotti Unsweetened Cocoa Powder that I splurged on at Williams-Sonoma. I've never used Hershey's so your guess is as good as mine. Finally, I think it's a good idea to place plastic wrap right on top the chocolate mixture while it's cooling in the fridge so it doesn't develop a skin that could make the gelato lumpy.

I'll let you know how this latest batch turns out.

Most important -- I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully we can iron the wrinkles (or grits) out so it's perfect!

Sep 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I happened upon your site while I was looking for some ideas on Chocolate Gelato, and saw the question above about grittiness. I can guarantee the grittiness experienced by your website viewer is coming from the regular cocoa powder vs. dutch. Long story short, dutch is processed in a manner that raises the pH, and shrinks the micron size of the cocoa powder. If you use regular ole cocoa powder (particularly Hershey's), it will be gritty. The fact that the recipe calls for only 16 oz of liquid will make this MUCH more obvious. Use dutch kids!

I really like the technique you've used here, adding a little coffee/espresso REALLY brings out the chocolate flavor. You could probably get away with reducing your cocoa powder to only 2 Tbs, and STILL get an outstanding final product.

Great website!

Sep 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Woodbury

Tom - thanks so much for your comment and clearing up the mystery! Wish I knew more about the chemistry of food and cooking. Nancy

Sep 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterNancy Kohler

Tom- Thanks for your note, very helpful! I'll definitely use dutch chocolate on the next batch. Will probably try reducing the amount of cocoa used as well.

Nancy- Thanks for your note about Tom's note.

Sep 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@spicymatzahball

Made another batch last night and this time used Valrhona, a french brand of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. This made all the difference in the world, the gelato was smooth and creamy the way it should be. (major props to Tom W)

I also used a different dark chocolate in the interest of cost savings. This time i used Scharffenburger 70% dark chocolate. NOT as good as the Galler in previous comment post. Previously used a darker and smoother flavored Galler chocolate that gave the gelato a much richer flavor, and that's what i'll go back to using in the future. Unfortunately there's a slight amount of dairy (in both chocolate brands), but it's worth it!

Sep 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter@spicymatzahball

Oh my goodness, that is gorgeous gelato with some spectacular reviews and great discussion. Thanks for suggesting cornstarch as I don't have arrowroot either. I was even wondering if it could be left out. I haven't been adding any binder to the ice creams I've been making and it's worked great, but maybe it's a thickening thing? Anyway, I will definitely be making this one soon--maybe tonight!


I do love chocolate! Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

Dec 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiane-The WHOLE Gang

Super awesome writing. Really..

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRaphael Crawford

Very great read. Really..

May 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEddie Helms

Just thought I'd mention that I purchased some Pernigotti cocoa, and it is NOT gluten-free. It says on the label that it is "prepared and packaged using machines that may come in contact with wheat/gluten, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy."

Mar 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl
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