We Americans can be a spoiled lot, deprivation is not our thing in the 2000s. To which we say hurrah! Since the big boys won’t give us what we want, at least not when we want it, we’ll fall back on another American-ism; self-reliance.
That’s right, pull up those bootstraps, pick yourself up, dust off and get ready to make it happen. A homemade choco-taco, where you can even pick the features you like best.
Buckle up, here we go.
It’s always fun to hear about the person that started a thing. In this case, Alan Drazon, Senior Vice President of the Jack and Jill Ice Cream Company. No doubt a hot summer of 1983 in Philadelphia when he made his bones as a frozen confection king and brought the choco-taco to the waiting world. Now, in 2022, the company has coldly decided to stop making this national treasure. We heard your voices that something needed to be done, and here it is.
One thing to keep in mind is that most of us do not have a true deep freezer that can get things to that rock solid stage which takes much longer to thaw and soften up. That means we need to work in stages and we need to return things to the freezer regularly during the process.
This isn’t a huge deal, it just takes some timing and paying attention, along with freezer space available. The next biggest factor is how you want to size your ice cream treat. We made a more adult size, very close to an actual taco with an 8-inch tortilla. You can very easily make it a smaller treat at each step. Keep in mind that smaller will thaw more quickly, so your handling may require more logistics, and in and out of the freezer more often.
Ice Cream Filling
Shockingly, or not, there are other recipes out there for a DIY choco-taco. Many will have you make the filling in an ice cream like fashion. Unless you can churn it properly, it will only be close. Some call for piping the filling into the shell and letting it freeze that way. That does work, but it is still not a proper ice cream.
This is one where we like to let someone else do the work. Buy the ice cream. We went slightly un-traditional with a chocolate vanilla marbled ice cream. The original is vanilla with a fudge ripple. That being said you can use whatever is your favorite flavor, which is pretty wide open.
Ours is a classic sugar cone recipe. The coloring is on the lighter side because we use part brown sugar, but mostly white sugar. Feel free to use all brown sugar, even dark brown sugar if you would like, that will get your look closer to the original treat. Bear in mind that brown sugar is typically larger crystals and will require more work to blend smoothly into the batter. Not a huge deal, but worthy of note.
The handling of the shell is fun when you get the sense of it. It is basically a big flat thin cookie. Like all cookies it is soft when taken from the oven, and will set up as it cools. So, you remove it from the pan, drape it over a utensil handle or such, and voila, you now have a taco shell. This recipe does keep a little flexibility which helps when it is time to fill it.
Working with chocolate takes a little expertise. We start with good old chocolate chips, semi-sweet, and add a couple things to get better results. Butter makes the end result shinier, and of course it tastes good. Milk or half and half thins it down to get better coverage when dipping. While this will soften the end result, keep in mind we are serving this frozen, so it will be firm enough from that.
One key to melting chocolate is patience. You can certainly us a double boiler, many folks have on. In restaurant kitchens we usually went with a bowl set on the pot of water. Stainless or glass obviously, not plastic. Glass is nice because you can see the water below. You do not actually want the water to be boiling. The chocolate can handle that temp for a short while, but you only need to get it to a melted stage, right under 100 degrees. Since you are dipping a frozen item into the chocolate, cooler is also better for that process.
Tips and tricks
Making the shells does require one step that can be problematic. You remove them form the pan while they are hot and drape them as mentioned. We turned a pasta rack upside down and used that to suspend the cooling shells.
Anything deep enough to keep them from hitting bottom and wide enough to fit the shells will work, a large Tupperware for example, even glasses in a row. We also tried spraying the parchment with oil, and rubbing it with butter. Butter had slightly better release.
For the filling, this is an easy process. Freeze two heavy plates. Put plastic wrap on the bottom, then put about ¾ cup of ice cream on that. Add another layer of wrap on top and press into an ice cream patty with the other frozen plate. Flatten until the size matches the shells you made, then cut in half and fill two tacos.
The original has the nuts coated in the chocolate, but it is easier to work with, and arguably a better look, if you dip the taco in plain chocolate then roll it in the nuts. We used chopped pecans, peanuts were in the original, but use what you like best.
Choco Taco Resurrection Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- ¼ Cup Brown sugar
- ½ Cup White sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ¼ Cup Milk
- ½ Cup Pastry or all-purpose flour
- 4 Cups Ice cream approximately
- 1 Cup Semi sweet chips
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Milk or half and half
- 1 Cup Chopped nuts
- In a microwave safe bowl melt 2 Tablespoons butter
- Add and stir together ¼ cup brown sugar
- Let cool to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Add white sugar, egg, and vanilla, whisk until smooth and fluffy
- Add milk and blend
- Add flour, stir until smooth
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and oil or rub with a coating of butter
- Put two full Tablespoons of the batter on the pan and spread to form a circle without them touching
- Smooth the batter to an even thickness no more than 1/8 of an inch thick
- Bake at 300 degrees for 15-17 minutes until the edges are well browned
- Remove from the oven, let rest one minute, then loosen with a thin metal spatula
- Drape each cookie over a wooden spoon handle or such and allow to cool
- Repeat until all the batter is used up
- Place two plates in the freezer
- Let the shells fully cool, then freeze before filling
- Using frozen plates lined with plastic make flatten ice cream to a disk to fit two shells
- Cut ice cream disk in half and slide into the shells
- When all shells are filled return to freezer on a parchment lined sheet pan for at least two hours
- Place chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon butter 2 Tablespoons milk or half and half in a heat proof bowl
- Place bowl over a pot of warm water on low heat
- When chocolate and butter begin melting, whisk until smooth
- Place chopped nuts in a bowl close to the chocolate
- Coat the open edge of each shell well with chocolate then dip in the nuts and return to sheet pan
- Freeze for at least an hour
- Serve and enjoy