I switched to a low-carb (<50g per day) and high-fat diet at the beginning of this year in an effort to improve my running and long-term health. Some of the adjustments have been easy (e.g. eating hamburgers without the bun) but others have been challenging. Pizza, french fries, and baked breakfast delights continue to tempt me. Although I don’t crave sweets quite as much as I used to, I still enjoy dessert on some nights. When such a mood strikes I’ve been having one or two squares of dark chocolate since that fits into the diet at only 10-15g of carbs.
I’ve also been thinking about ice cream and wondering if I could do a sugar-free (or super-low-sugar) version that would fit with the diet. I can’t stand artificial sweetener as I’m highly sensitive to the taste. Then I read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance which identified Xylitol as a potential alternate for sugar. I liked that it is a 1:1 replacement, made from natural ingredients, low glycemic index, cookable, and no aftertaste. I searched online for a good chocolate ice cream recipe made with Xylitol, but didn’t turn up any simple candidates. I decided to create my own based on my ice cream making experience and trusting that Xylitol can be used in cooking. The first batch turned out great so I’m sharing it online!
- 3 large eggs
- 0.5 cu Xylitol (I used Xlear Xylosweet; this is for mild sweetness – use 0.75 or 1 cup if you want sweet)
- 0.5 cu cocoa powder (preferably dutch-processed for richness; I used King Arthur Flour Double Dutch Dark Cocoa)
- 1 cu half-and-half
- 1.5 cu heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp rum (or other hard alcohol – it helps keep the ice cream soft in the freezer)
- Beat eggs thoroughly in heat-proof mixing bowl
- Add Xylitol and cocoa powder to eggs and stir well to combine
- Heat half-and-half to 160 deg F in a saucepan
- Drizzle warmed half-and-half into egg mixture while mixing. This brings the egg mixture slowly up to temperature so it doesn’t curdle.
- Put egg mixture back into saucepan and heat slowly to 160F while stirring. Don’t heat too fast or boil or you might end up with scrambled eggs in your ice cream (only straining can save you then).
- Once egg mixture is at 160F then turn off heat and add remaining ingredients (heavy cream, vanilla, rum). Stir to combine.
- Refrigerate for a few hours or until it reaches fridge temp.
- Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.
To me the ice cream is essentially indistinguishable from its sugar-based counterpart. The texture is creamy and the sweetness is just right for my low-carb-adjusted palate. I’d say that 0.5 cu of Xylitol is on the low end of sweetness – you could definitely use 2/3 or 3/4 cup of Xylitol if you wanted it to taste even more like standard ice cream.
This base method would definitely adapt well with other flavors, so I’m looking forward to some more ice cream creations in the near future!