Pastry chef Kara Murphy won top honors for this dish at the 2023 Polar Bear Plunge

Intro by Hope Katz Gibbs | Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the August 2023 issue 


Kara Murphy was sweating as judges called out the winners of the Polar Bear Plunge ice cream competition on Feb. 4. Standing beside her booth at the Atlantic Sands Hotel on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, the acclaimed pastry chef wasn’t sure if her Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream recipe would beat out the entry from her favorite childhood company, Woodside Farm Creamery. 

“Woodside was my go-to spot as a kid for comfort food, so competing with those ice cream gurus was very scary,” admits Murphy, the pastry chef at Jam Holdings, which owns Eden, Jam Bistro, Coho’s Market & Grill, and Red, White and Basil, all in or near Rehoboth. “I was dumbfounded and shocked when the judges announced I beat out Woodside’s Peppermint Rocky Road ice cream — and also the submission by Kilwins, a really delicious s’mores creation that I just wanted to keep eating.”

Crafting delectable deserts is a passion for the graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte, N.C., campus, who grew up in a big Italian family in Newark. “Food is our love language. Family dinners are where we come together to eat, talk and laugh. And I just adore sugar. Although I spent some of my career as a chef, spending my life as a pastry chef makes so much sense.”

Murphy says that when dreaming up the recipe for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge competition, she put her heart into it. “It’s funky to have ice cream in February, so I wanted people to feel warm from the inside. Mexican hot chocolate is one of my favorite winter treats, and I used that as my motivation. I think making this recipe in August will be as perfect as it was in the winter.”

(Makes 2 quarts, 16 servings)


  • 4 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 11⁄2 cups of 72 percent chocolate bars, broken into pieces and chopped
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 11⁄2 cups of sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 21⁄2 teaspoons of cinnamon


  • Ice cream maker
  • Saucepot
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • Airtight container
  • Immersion blender
  • Mesh strainer (fine)
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • 4-ounce ice cream scoop

STEP 1 Into the sauce pot, pour heavy cream and half-and-half and bring to a slight boil.

STEP 2 Into a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar.

STEP 3 Over the egg and sugar mixture, slowly pour in the cream/half-and-half using the whisk to blend so the eggs don’t curdle.

STEP 4 Add vanilla, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and finely chopped chocolate chunks. Blend with immersion blender on low to remove any clumps.

STEP 5 Put the mesh strainer over the second mixing bowl and pour the mixture through it to remove any cooked eggs or chocolate chunks.

STEP 6 Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight so the flavors will combine. 

STEP 7 The next day, set up the ice cream maker (the chiller bowl that goes inside of the machine needs to be fully frozen).

STEP 8 Pour in the ice cream mixture and let it churn (usually for 30 minutes).

STEP 9 Pour into an air-tight container and freeze overnight.

STEP 10 When ready to serve, place a 4-ounce scoop into hot water for 5 minutes.

STEP 11 Scoop 4 ounces of ice cream into a bowl and enjoy!

STEP 12 Kara Murphy’s choice: Top with hot fudge, whipped cream, or — an Eden favorite — malted milk crumbs.