|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 34g||44%|
|Saturated Fat 17g||86%|
|Total Carbohydrate 19g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Rocky road ice cream is a beloved classic American ice cream flavor made of chocolate ice cream studded with toasted almonds and mini marshmallows. This flavor is so ubiquitous that it can be found at nearly any ice cream parlor across the United States, and for good reason! The combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, and roasted almonds is like a magnet for your spoon—you keep coming back for more!
The History of Rocky Road Ice Cream
The rocky road flavor was invented in 1929 by William Dryer and Joseph Edy of Dreyer’s ice cream. At the time, the only standard ice cream flavors available were vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, so the invention of rocky road was a major step towards the plethora of mix-in studded flavors that we see today.
Why is it Called Rocky Road Ice Cream?
The name “rocky road” was not only a nod to the almonds and marshmallows that gave the ice cream texture. Because this ice cream was developed at the start of the Great Depression, its name was intended to conjure up the sentiment of the times while providing something sweet and joyful to a nation gripped by uncertainty and hardship.
What Ingredients Are in Rocky Road Ice Cream?
Our homemade rocky road ice cream is made with a custard base for the richest possible outcome. A combination of Dutch process cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate bring a complex chocolate flavor to the base. We use marshmallow creme instead of mini marshmallows or cut-up larger marshmallows because swirls make us happy, and we prefer the smooth, silky creme to cold, hardened marshmallows. Roasted salted almonds round out the flavor profile, lending just enough salt to contrast the ice cream’s sweetness.
How To Make a Custard Ice Cream Base
When making a custard ice cream base, you’ll perform a technique called tempering. This involves whisking a little bit of a hot cream mixture into beaten egg yolks, then whisking the “tempered” yolks into the rest of the hot cream. This process isn’t just to stress you out or dirty extra dishes! Tempering is important because it prevents the yolks from cooking and curdling immediately upon hitting the hot dairy. Once the eggs are tempered, the custard mixture is heated enough to thicken it and cook the yolks.
Use Marshmallow Creme for the Best Rocky Road Ice Cream
Note that marshmallow fluff and marshmallow creme are different things–you want marshmallow creme for this recipe. Since marshmallow creme can be sticky, we microwave it just enough to warm it slightly, which makes it drizzle-able and easier to swirl without making a giant mess.
This ice cream has enough going on that it can stand on its own but it’s a superb flavor for an ice cream sundae or even an ice cream pie. Or turn it into ice cream sandwiches with your favorite soft vanilla or chocolate cookies.
Tips for Making Rocky Road Ice Cream
- Tempering the eggs is a necessary step to ensure the eggs come up to temperature without scrambling. If you have a medium-sized ladle, use it to gradually pour some of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks.
- Marshmallow fluff and marshmallow creme are different. Make sure to buy marshmallow creme for this recipe.
- Microwaving the marshmallow creme briefly warms it up just enough to make it easy to drizzle and swirl into the ice cream.
- It’s easier to get the cocoa powder to dissolve in the cream if you whisk it in the saucepan with the sugar, then gradually drizzle in the milk and cream while whisking constantly.
- Dutch process cocoa powder has a darker color and different flavor than natural cocoa. It lends a very specific, Oreo cookie-like flavor to the ice cream base. Even though the flavors are different, this is one recipe where it's totally ok to substitute natural cocoa powder if that's what you have. The ice cream will still be delicious.
"Delicious! The chocolate ice cream base is super rich and creamy, and is extra chocolatey with a double chocolate punch from the cocoa and the melted chocolate." —The Spruce Eats Test Kitchen
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup (21 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 ounces 70% dark chocolate, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup (56 grams) marshmallow creme, from 1 (7-ounce) jar (such as Jet-Puffed)
1/2 cup (85 grams) roasted salted almonds, roughly chopped
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Whisk together the cream, milk, cocoa powder, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium until steaming, whisking often.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a large heatproof bowl until smooth.
Gradually add 1 cup of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the warm milk mixture in the saucepan.
Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, or until the custard reaches 175 F, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool slightly, about 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill until completely cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
Pour the ice cream mixture into a frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
Place the marshmallow creme in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until softened, 10 to 15 seconds.
Pour half of the churned ice cream into a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.
Working quickly, drizzle half of the warmed marshmallow creme over the ice cream and use the tip of a knife or toothpick to gently swirl the marshmallow creme into the ice cream. Sprinkle with half of the chopped almonds.
Spoon the remaining ice cream over the marshmallow creme and almonds. Repeat the process with the remaining marshmallow creme and sprinkle with the remaining almonds.
Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
How to Store
Store rocky road ice cream in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 weeks. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper directly on the surface of the ice cream to inhibit ice crystal formation.
- If desired, instead of using marshmallow creme, you may fold 1 cup miniature marshmallows into the churned ice cream along with the almonds.
- Instead of almonds, you may substitute an equal amount of chopped toasted pecans.
- You can add all kinds of different mix-ins to this ice cream base. Try crumbled brownies, chunks of edible cookie dough, shredded coconut, or pistachios.