Chocolate Water Ice

1st May 2015

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Noémie Reijnen

“This is adapted from a recipe from The Complete Confectioner by Frederick Nutt from 1806. At that point, ice cream was an exhibition of richness: you’re showing off that you’ve got an ice house or can afford to buy ice. You can interpret a lot of things through the medium of ice cream. It’s tasty too! I much prefer this method to doing it in a machine or taking it out of the freezer every hour and stirring it. You’re effectively creating a freezer around something you can easily access, which is useful after a couple of gin and tonics. By adding salt to a bowl of ice you bring the temperature down to minus 20, which is much colder than a household freezer, so it’s ready much quicker. It goes to show that sometimes historic methods work better than modern methods.”
Annie Gray, food historian, Ely


If you don’t happen to own an 18th-century sorbetière, you will need a large bowl (preferably plastic), a metal lidded container (a coffee storage container is ideal), a bag of ice, crushed if you can get it, a bag of salt, a couple of wooden spoons and a spoon for the salt.

Makes ½ litre


85g dark chocolate, broken into bits (Annie uses Willie’s 100% cocoa)
70ml syrup (water and sugar)
600ml water
A large bag of ice (at least 2kg)
Lots of salt (at least 500g)


Make the syrup by adding equal quantities of sugar and water to a pan and stirring over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. In a separate pan, heat the chocolate and 600ml water and stir until the chocolate has melted. Stir in 70ml syrup. Allow to cool completely.

Take the bag of ice and smash it up with a mallet, wooden rolling pin or wooden pestle if it isn’t already crushed. Put about 3cm in the bottom of a large non-breakable mixing bowl. Sprinkle in a couple of tbsp of salt (this lowers the melting point, making everything much colder). Stand your metal container on this, with the lid on. Fill the space around it with more crushed ice and lots and lots of salt until the ice reaches almost to the top of the can. You should be able to see ice forming on the outside of the bowl, and the inside of the container will be freezing too. Mush down the ice with the end of a wooden spoon to mix the salt and ice together (make sure you then keep this well away from the ice cream lest you get salt in it).

Now add your water ice mix to the can, leaving some room at the top as the mixture will expand as it freezes. Stir it well. Put the lid on and give the container a firm twist to get it turning freely in the ice. You need to keep turning it and taking the lid off and stirring it every 5 to 10 minutes until it is set. After a while, you’ll need to scrape the sides of the container as the ice cream starts to freeze. This keeps the ice crystals small and gives it a good texture. Mix the frozen stuff in with the rest and give it a good stir. Eventually (about 30-45 minutes) you’ll have set ice cream. You can either eat it now or put in the freezer for later.



Posted 1st May 2015

In Recipes


Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Noémie Reijnen