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I’m very, very excited to share this recipe for what we’ve come to call Halo “Not” ice cream. If you’re at all tapped into the “health food” scene, you may have heard there’s a new high-protein ice cream option on the market called Halo Top. Its claim to fame is that it offers more protein, less sugar and few calories than traditional ice cream. Halo Top comes packaged in pint containers, with the calorie count for the ENTIRE pint prominently featured on the front (ranging from 240 to 360 calories).
After sampling a few flavors and reading the ingredients lists, it’s not a mystery how Halo Top achieves this. The protein comes from standard ice cream ingredients like milk and eggs, as well as some whey protein. While the ice cream still has cane sugar in it, they also use stevia as a sweetener. And the low calorie count? A result of the reduced sugar, some additives like guar gum to maintain the texture, and, as far as I can tell, air. You can reasonably eat an entire pint of Halo Top in one sitting in part because it’s just a bit fluffier than regular ice cream.
Now, I’m not here to review Halo Top, tell you that you should/should not be eating it, etc. Eat it if you like it. My husband does, almost on a daily basis in the summer. He’s a big fan of the birthday cake and peanut butter flavors, in particular.
I, on the other hand, just can’t get past the artificial aftertaste. A bite of Halo Top tastes fine to me, and then seconds later the experience is ruined. So I set out to see if I could come up with a high-protein, lower-calorie ice cream alternative based on the traditional way of making ice cream–in other words, making a cooked custard of dairy and eggs, adding flavorings (and protein powder, in this case), and freezing to produce ice cream. Since I still don’t own an ice cream maker, I used the freeze-and-process method from the peach frozen yogurt recipe I shared last year. With this Reddit post as the basis for my ingredients list and several different cooking sites for the technique, I came up with something that’s pretty darn delicious, if I do say so myself.
The other pro is that the macros are actually pretty close to the real deal. The damage? Half a pint of chocolate Halo Top weighs in at 160 calories, with 8 g carbs, 12 g protein and 7 g fat. Half of this batch of Halo “Not” is 172 calories, with 16.7 g carbs, 11.5 g protein and 6.6 g fat. About twice the carbs, but almost the same amount of protein and fat.
It’s a little denser than Halo Top, but plenty rich and creamy. I’m not a big fan of fluffy ice cream, so I actually prefer this over a lot of the other brands I’ve purchased over various previous summers. One key to this recipe (I think) is the cocoa powder. If you’re not using Hershey’s special dark, I think you’re missing out. I’m not sure what makes it so delicious, but it adds an awesome deep chocolate flavor that allowed me to back off on the sugar somewhat in this recipe. The other key to this recipe is the gelatin, which helps keep it creamy and scoopable even after freezing. I use the plain powdered kind here. (But note, this means this ice cream recipe is not vegetarian. Omit for a vegetarian-friendly dessert.)
- 1 tsp plain powdered gelatin
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup half & half
- 1/4 cup 1% milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 scoop Tera's whey plain protein powder
- 2 tbsp Hershey's special dark cocoa powder
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- pinch of salt
- Combine the water and gelatin in a small bowl and set aside to bloom.
- Place the half & half, milk and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low, whisking frequently, until the mixture is warm but not hot (you should still be able to touch it).
- Meanwhile, beat the egg well in a separate bowl. When the milk is warm, add a splash to the egg while whisking to help temper it. Pour the remaining milk in slowly, whisking the whole time. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan.
- Continue to heat and whisk the mixture until it reaches 160F. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture. Let cool to room temperature (you can speed this up by placing the pan in a shallow ice bath).
- Whisk together the protein powder, cocoa, espresso and salt, then add it to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. If the mixture is lumpy, pass it through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Line a wide but high-sided pan with a silpat if you have one, and pour in the custard mix. Clear a spot in your freezer and freeze until solid.
- Once the mixture is frozen, break it up into chunks and add it to a food processor. Pulse a few times to break it up, then run the food processor until the mixture takes on the texture of soft-serve ice cream.
- Serve immediately, or scrape into a plastic container with a rubber spatula and store in the freezer. Like regular Halo Top, you'll need to let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes or so before scooping after it's been frozen.