Wisconsin - Frozen Custard

While Frozen Custard originated at Coney Island in New York back in 1919, the people of Wisconsin have embraced this variation on ice cream and made it a must have dessert in Wisconsin.  

To be called frozen custard, the treat must meet some requirements:

  • be at least 10% butterfat (like traditional ice cream)  
  • must contain 1.4% by weight of egg yolk
  • have a low overrun (amount of air added into the product) and 
  • be frozen and served fresh daily.
Custard is also served at a warmer temperature than ice cream - 18 degrees F vs. 12 degrees F.  Some of the most popular custard chains in Wisconsin are Culvers, Kopp's and Gilles.   Custard stands usually have vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day and make batches fresh throughout the day.

Making true custard at home is a bit difficult because the machinery and method used to freeze the custard is not the same as that used in an at home ice cream freezer, but you can still make a decadent treat at home using this recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.    

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
3/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 


  • place chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.  prepare an ice bath in a bowl slightly larger than the bowl your chocolate is in
  • in a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of cream and the cocoa powder over medium-high heat
  • bring the mixture to a bowl and then reduce heat to medium
  • let simmer for 30 seconds.  pour the hot mixture over the chocolate and stir until smooth
  • stir in remaining 1 cup of cream and place a mesh sieve over the bowl 
  • using the same saucepan warm the milk, sugar and salt 
  • place egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly pour warm milk mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly
  • immediately pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.  use a spatula to move the mixture while cooking over medium heat
  • continue to stir until the mixture is thickened and reaches a temperature 170 - 175 degrees F. Do not let it boil!
  • remove from heat and pour through the mesh sieve into the chocolate mixture
  • immediately move the bowl into the ice bath and whisk until the mixture has cooled 
  • stir in the vanilla and cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap 
  • refrigerate overnight
  • once the mixture is chilled give it a stir and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • for a soft serve consistency, serve immediately or freeze for several hours for a traditional ice cream consistency.  

Wow - this is really rich and creamy and a great way to showcase Wisconsin dairy!   


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