Kitchn Love Letters

3-Ingredient Strawberry Magic Shell Is the Easy Ice Cream Upgrade You Need Right Now

published Jul 10, 2022
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Credit: Nina Elder

When I was growing up, I remember what a treat it was to get Magic Shell. (It looked like this when I was a kid.) It happened VERY rarely in my house, but when it did I savored every second of the drizzling and the waiting and then the satisfying sound of the spoon as it cracked through the chocolate shell.

As I grew up, my affection for chocolate-coated ice cream broadened to include Dilly Bars and dipped cones at Dairy Queen, but at a certain point I realized that most of this “magic” chocolate tasted a little waxy and way less chocolatey than I would have liked. Then, in 2011, blogger Irvin Lin gave me a gift: His recipe for DIY Magic Shell. It was an ingenious mix of melted chocolate (real chocolate!) and coconut oil. Why coconut oil? Because it solidifies around 74°F, which means the sauce will harden pretty much as soon as it hits your ice cream. Like magic.

Fast forward a few years to the era when I worked at Rachael Ray’s magazine. My genius colleague and dear friend Janet McCracken was working on an ice cream recipe package for one of the summer issues and came up with some brilliant variations on DIY Magic Shell, including a strawberry one made with white chocolate and strawberry Nesquik. It was fruity and fun and sooooo easy. Plus, it’s a lovely pink shade that’s just perfect for all of your summer parties (or a Tuesday night when you need a treat).

Unfortunately, the magazine folded a few months ago, but luckily I’m able to keep the magic alive by sharing the recipe with you.

Credit: Nina Elder

How to Make DIY Strawberry Magic Shell

The recipe couldn’t be simpler. It’s just white chocolate, coconut oil, and strawberry milk powder (plus ice cream for drizzling it on top of). The original recipe calls for melting 12 ounces of chopped white chocolate with 1/4 cup coconut oil on the stove, but I’ve found that it also works well if you zap it in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each burst. Because it’s so easy, the recipe a great thing to have kids help you with or outsource to your kiddo completely, if they’re old enough.

Once the chocolate and coconut oil mixture is nice and smooth, you stir in 1/4 cup of strawberry milk powder. The powder won’t completely dissolve into the chocolate, so the topping will have little flecks of strawberry-flavored bits and won’t be completely smooth, but I think that’s part of the charm.

To make sure the topping doesn’t melt your ice cream, let it cool down for a few minutes. You want it to be pourable but not hot. Drizzle away, wait for a few seconds for the mixture to firm up, then get cracking!

Credit: Nina Elder

What Else Can You Do with Strawberry Magic Shell?

Ice cream (in a cup or cone) is the classic use, of course, but I played around with some other things and found that the topping is also delightful on strawberries, marshmallows, and savory stuff, like potato chips and even saltines. I’m sure pretzels would be tasty, too. Because the magic happens below 74°F, you’ll need to use frozen berries or dip the food, transfer to a baking tray, and stick it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to harden.

If You Make Strawberry Magic Shell, a Few Tips

  • Use high-quality white chocolate. For a rich, creamy flavor, splurge on the fancier white chocolate bars. White chocolate chips won’t melt the same way, so this isn’t the place to use them. I like Ghiradelli or Lindt, both of which are pretty available across the country.
  • Choose your coconut oil adventure. Unrefined coconut oil will add a tropical taste to the topping. Refined coconut oil has a milder coconut flavor. Both are tasty; it all comes down to your personal preference.
  • Make as much (or as little) as you need. A full recipe is fun for a party. If this is for a smaller gathering, it’s easy make a half batch (6 ounces of chocolate, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of milk powder) or scale it down — or up — as needed. As long as you keep the ratios the same, you’ll be good.
  • Stash leftovers in the pantry or fridge. Leftovers keep well in the pantry or fridge. The mixture will harden, of course, but you can bring it back to its original melty consistency by zapping it in the microwave using the same 30-second burst method as you did when you made the original batch.

Have you made homemade Magic Shell? Tell us about it in the comments!