I’ve got nothing but love for “Magic Shell,” the chocolate ice cream topping that starts out a liquid, but freezes instantly over ice cream into a thin, crackly shell that you whack with the back of a spoon before you take a bite. It’s equal parts food science from the wizards at Smucker’s and, as is clearly stated on the label, magic.
If it has one problem, it’s that Magic Shell’s delicious flavor isn’t exactly its most prominent feature. It’s too sweet, too waxy, and not very chocolatey. We wanted to take Magic Shell’s magical ingredient, coconut oil, and try combining it with some other flavors to make a dessert topping that would be beloved by both kids and parents alike.
Coconut oil is pretty amazing stuff. Though high in saturated fat, it’s made a bit of a splash recently on the health food circuit, credited with everything from increased metabolism to lowered cholesterol to decreased diabetes risk to enhanced liver function. To me though, its most remarkable property is the very slight change in temperature needed to turn it from a liquid to a solid. Refined coconut oil liquefies at 74 degrees, and returns to a solid at just 70 degrees. A drop of those four little degrees turns a mixture of chocolate and coconut oil into a solid, the “Magic Shell” that we remember so fondly from our childhood.
We started with a white chocolate version flavored with peppermint; it’s amazing over chocolate ice cream. Of course, for the purists, we’re also including the instructions for the traditional chocolate flavor Magic Shell-inspired topping. The finished product will keep at room temperature in a sealed container for about a month. If it solidifies on the shelf, just zap it for a few seconds in the microwave to return it to liquid form.
Experiment with different flavored extracts as you see fit; chocolate coconut topping would be excellent over pistachio ice cream, or white chocolate and raspberry topping over strawberry ice cream. The possibilities are endless!
White Chocolate & Peppermint “Magic Shell” Style Ice Cream Topping
Adapted from a recipe in The America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook; Makes 3/4 cup
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
- 4 ounces white chocolate
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Fill a small saucepan with two inches of water, and heat over medium-high heat. Place a heat safe bowl on top of the pan, to act as a double boiler.
Add coconut oil, salt, and white chocolate to bowl and heat until melted and combined, stirring occasionally. Stir in peppermint extract, remove from heat, and set aside.
Allow topping to cool to room temperature before serving over ice cream, about 30 minutes.
Variation: For traditional chocolate flavored Magic Shell dessert topping, replace white chocolate with 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate. Replace peppermint extract with vanilla extract, and also add 1 teaspoon of cocoa, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso.