We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
If you’ve never experienced the wonder of magic shell, you’re in for a treat. When poured over ice cream, the molten chocolate syrup immediately hardens, enrobing the cold scoops in a snappy chocolate coating that makes a satisfying “crack” when tapped with a spoon.
Although you can find a store-bought version at the grocery store amidst the sprinkles and jars of fudge, making it at home couldn’t be any easier. It takes just two ingredients, is made entirely in the microwave, and can be stashed in the pantry and reheated anytime you’re craving ice cream. Here’s how to make it.
How Does Magic Shell Work?
Magic shell is a combination of chocolate and fat (typically sunflower or coconut oil) that hardens into a firm, glossy shell when poured over ice cream. The fat lends the shell a soft, palatable texture so you can easily break through it with a spoon. If you were to pour just-melted chocolate over ice cream, it would be too hard and practically impossible to eat.
As for the science behind why it works? Coconut oil contains a high amount of saturated fat, meaning it’s solid at room temperature but liquid when heated. Once you melt the chocolate and coconut oil together, the mixture has the consistency of loose hot fudge — but the moment it hits cold ice cream it rapidly cools down, causing the coconut oil to firm back up.
This recipe calls for refined coconut oil as the source of saturated fat, which is made from dried coconuts and has a neutral flavor and aroma. However, if you want your magic shell to have a pronounced coconut flavor, you can use virgin coconut oil instead, which is made from fresh coconuts and has a strong coconut-y scent and flavor.
3 Tips for Making Magic Shell
Before you head into the kitchen to make this magic shell recipe, keep these tips in mind.
1. Make sure your bowl is completely dry before adding the chocolate and coconut oil. Water can make chocolate seize up, so make sure to dry your bowl before starting.
2. Melt the chocolate in 30-second bursts. This prevents the chocolate from burning and helps it melt evenly. After each 30-second burst, give it a good stir, making sure that the center is not burning.
3. Let it cool slightly before using it. The magic shell base will be very warm after it comes out of the microwave, so let it cool for at least 20 minutes before using it. If you put it straight onto ice cream while still warm, it might melt the ice cream.
Any leftover magic shell base can be stored in the pantry and re-melted anytime you’re craving ice cream. It will harden into a firm mass, but all you have to do is melt it in the microwave in 30-second bursts. It’s delicious over ice cream, sorbet, and even pieces of frozen fruit. Try pouring it over frozen chunks of pineapple, grapes, or any other frozen fruit you have stashed in your freezer.