How to make your own ice cream tacos

Topping the list of ice cream truck novelties likely to inspire intense nostalgia is the Choco Taco, that crust of vanilla ice cream stuffed in a sugar cone shell, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts. Perhaps the only thing better than the memory of scoring one on a hot summer day is realizing that you have the ability to make your own version at home. That’s right: using whatever ice cream you want, some very easy homemade scoops, and infinitely customizable toppings, you can make DIY ice cream tacos that taste way better than nostalgia. And even better, you can invite friends and call it a party.

Like many food-centric parties, a DIY ice cream taco party works best if you do a little prep beforehand. I recommend making and forming the taco shells before friends arrive, so when they arrive, all you need to do is stuff them and freeze them.

The dough, a mixture of egg whites, brown sugar and flour, is a simple affair. Once done, spread thin slices on parchment paper and bake until the skins are golden brown and still a little pliable. Then, working quickly, you form the shells over the spine of an overturned book. If they are too hot to handle, use a clean dish towel to hold them. Shells can be made up to three days in advance; just be sure to store them in an airtight container.

When people arrive, so does the fun. I put the ice cream on to soften a little and then have everyone fill their own tacos with the ice cream(s) of their choice. While I go for the chocolate and vanilla swirl, other amazing options include dulce de leche, strawberry, or pistachio gelato. To freak out!

Stuffing the tacos gets a little messy, but what’s a mess-free party? Tacos should be filled to the top of the shell and smoothed with a spatula or butter knife so the ice cream is even with the shell. After filling the tacos, place them in the freezer and let them set for at least 30 minutes.

While the tacos are freezing, prepare the crunchy chocolate frosting. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually a simple combination of chopped chocolate and coconut oil, melted and stirred until smooth. The only rule is: don’t use a chocolate bar that you wouldn’t happily eat alone. I’m personally interested in Tony’s Chocolonely, but you like it.

After making the chocolate frosting, crush/crush/chop the crunchy toppings and place them on separate plates. As with ice cream, the only limit is your imagination. Cinnamon toast crunchy! Freeze-dried strawberry powder! Caramel corn! You can cover these babies with literally anything under the sun.

Once the tacos have had a nap in the freezer, it’s time to get going. The key is to work fast: When you dip the cold tacos into the chocolate frosting, it quickly hardens to create a crunchy “magical” shell. So put all the coverings on the liner quickly, before it dries.

That done, the only thing left to do is grab a napkin and head into town.

DIY Chocolate Taco Recipe

Serves 12 servings

Ingredients:

For the taco shells:

3 egg whites
½ cup light brown sugar (packaged)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 cup flour, divided (when measuring, place the flour in the measuring cup and level with a knife)
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

14 cups of your favorite ice cream or gelato

For the frosting and chocolate topping:

6 ounces dark chocolate (at least 65 percent), chopped
3 tablespoons solid coconut oil
1 cup each: unsweetened toasted coconut, crushed caramel corn, colored sprinkles, lightly crushed cinnamon toast, crushed freeze-dried strawberries, or other toppings of your choice

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Using a 4-inch bowl as a guide, trace 3 circles on the parchment. Flip the paper over, place it on the baking sheet and set aside. Set up a thin (1 inch thick) book spine on the side of the oven; this will be the shape you will use to shape the taco shells once they come out of the oven. (You may need to secure the book with tins on both sides.) Place a clean dish towel and rectangular casserole dish next to the book.

Step 2: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg whites, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Mix in half of the flour, then add the butter and beat until incorporated. Add the remaining flour and beat until smooth.

Step 3: Place 1 to 1½ tablespoons of the dough in the center of each drawn circle. Using an offset spatula, spread it evenly into 4-inch circles, using a back and forth motion and steadying the parchment with your fingertips. Place the pan on the center rack of the oven and bake until the slices are golden around the edges but still pliable, 10 to 12 minutes.

Smoothing the rind dough into circles on the parchment paper.

Step 4: Moving quickly, use a putty knife to pick up one of the shells and place it bottom-up on the spine of the book. Gently mold the cookie over the spine to create a taco shape and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat quickly with the remaining 2 shells, returning to them every now and then to press them down a bit if they come back up.

Molding taco shells over the spine of a book.

Step 5: Hang the cooled shells upside down over the edge of the pan (so the sides of the taco are on the inside and outside of the pan. Let the shells cool while you bake the next batch. Repeat the process with the remaining batter in batches until you have 12 taco shells. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Hang the taco shells over the edge of a casserole dish.

Step 6: When you’re ready to fill the tacos, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften a little. Fill each taco shell with about 2/3 cup of ice cream (enough to fill the taco to the edges). Smooth with an offset spatula and place the taco upright on the baking sheet. Repeat until all taco shells are filled and freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 2 weeks (if you are going to freeze them for longer than 1 hour, wrap the casserole in plastic or aluminum foil).

Filling the taco shells with ice cream.

Step 7: When ready to decorate, place the toppings in small bowls.

Step 8: To make the chocolate frosting, combine the chocolate and coconut oil in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave over high heat for 1 minute. Stir and continue in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl set over boiling water on the stove.) Set aside.

Step 9: Remove the tacos from the freezer. Dip them in the chocolate frosting and quickly sprinkle the toppings over them or dip the tacos in the toppings. Let the chocolate harden briefly before eating.

Dipping the tacos into the chocolate frosting.

Dipping the tacos in the rainbow sprinkle topping.

Ivy Manning is a food writer from Portland, Oregon, and the author of nine cookbooks, including the bestselling Instant Pot Miracle 6 ingredients or less. She loves her whippets and truffles of both types. visit it at ivymanning. with or @ivy_manning On Instagram.
Dina Ávila is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
Photography assistant: Griffin Koerner

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