If you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably heard of the goth ice cream trend. The ice cream is black – hence the “goth” idea – and contrasts with the colorful unicorn and mermaid treats that have been brightening up people’s feeds for the past few months. Unlike most of its colorful counterparts, this “goth” ice cream is not made with food coloring. Instead, it gets its deep, dark color from activated charcoal, making it very unique indeed.
I ventured out to a place in Los Angeles, Little Damage, that is instafamous for its black ice cream and enjoyed every bite of it. I also came home determined to put together a recipe that would let anyone give this black ice cream a try at home. While the store’s ice cream was soft serve, I made a more traditional ice cream designed to be scooped, rather than swirled.
Activated charcoal, or activated carbon, is a form of carbon that is “processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.” It is primarily used for purification purposes, whether that means being used to treat a poisoning case at the hospital, filtering water or during the distillation process of some spirits. It’s easy to find the black powder at health food stores, as it is also used as an over the counter remedy for gas an indigestion. All this means that it is safe to eat and, because it is an ultra-fine powder, it is quite easy to incorporate into an ice cream base. It will probably get on your countertops as you work with it, but unlike food coloring, it is easy to clean up and won’t leave stains behind.
This ice cream is vanilla mint flavored, but you can actually make it any flavor by mixing up the extracts that you use. Adding in ingredients like fruit purees, as you might do for strawberry ice cream, will impact the color of the finished product and take away from the uniformity of the ice cream, so I recommend keeping things simple here. The store-bought black ice cream I sampled was vanilla and rose flavored, which was even more of a contrast to the dark color. When making this recipe, you could throw in a handful of chocolate chips for a mint-chip combination without taking anything away from the color.
Vanilla Mint Activated Charcoal Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup activated charcoal
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
In a small saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and whisk in activated charcoal, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Transfer to a bowl or large measuring cup, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
When mixture is cold, pour into your ice cream maker and freeze as directed. Freeze churned ice cream for at least an hour before scooping to firm it up.
Makes about 1 quart.
Want to make this without an ice cream maker? It is possible to make this without an ice cream maker using these tips, but it really is best to have an ice cream maker for this recipe. An ice cream maker will ensure you can make batch after batch of insta-perfect ice cream all summer long. This canister model is a great value and works well. This compressor model is more expensive, but a better choice if you plan to make multiple batches at once.