Love and Olive Oil
Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl (Crema del Doge)

Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl (Crema del Doge)

This sweet and creamy custard-based ice cream is flavored with candied orange syrup and features a swirl of rich and chewy chocolate fudge and bits of candied orange peel studded throughout.

Inspired by a particularly memorable cone of gelato from our travels, Crema del Doge is a flavor fit for a king: sweet cream with a hint of orange, with swirls of dark chocolate fudge and bits of bright candied orange peel mixed right in.

One round scoop sitting in a silver pan with Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl, ice cream scoop on the side.

Sometimes, a single delicious bite from a trip is so memorable that you’re still thinking about it 7 years later.

This is one of those bites.

Ok, so we had quite a few memorable bites on our trip to Venice back in 2017, including a decadent pistachio cream and the always satisfying straciatella, but it was a mind-blowing scoop of chocolate-and-orange deliciousness dubbed Crema del Doge that embedded itself in my mind and refused to leave.

Crema del Doge is the signature flavor of Gelateria il Doge in Venice, Italy. (The Doge was the highest ranking leader in Venice from about the 7th to 18th centuries… so this gelato is fit for royalty, wouldn’t you agree?) If you ever find yourself in the Floating City, I highly recommend seeking out this particular gelateria as you won’t be disappointed (SuSo is the other one that’s an absolute must).

This particular flavor flavor features a sweet cream gelato base with a swirl of chocolate fudge and bits of candied orange peel, making for a lovely chocolate and orange combination that’s darn near perfection. It was one of those moments where I knew, shortly after taking that first lick, that this was a flavor I needed to recreate at home.

Two stainless sundae cups with scoops of Candied Orange Ice Cream with visible swirls of chocolate fudge, small bowl of candied oranges and two spoons on the side.

Considering it’s been almost 7 years, I think I did a pretty darn good job at recreating the magic of Venice at home. My version has a bit more chocolate, now that I’m looking at a photo of the original, and a darker chocolate at that, which is certainly not a bad thing in my opinion.

I also can’t quite remember how strong the orange flavor was, if the gelato base itself was orange flavored or if the candied orange bits alone provided the pop of sweet orange flavor. I kept mine pretty mild, with some orange flavor in the base from the syrup and just a touch of orange extract.

Overhead, silver loaf pan with candied orange ice cream topped with candied orange bits and a swirl of chocolate fudge, with one scoop scooped out.

Homemade ice cream is always a real treat, with a rich and creamy texture that tastes like you shelled out big bucks for the premium product.

And custard based ice creams are perhaps the most decadent of all, with a rich and creamy base made from milk, cream, egg yolks and sugar.

Or, in the case of this recipe, the sugar is replaced with a candied orange syrup which serves to add both flavor to the ice cream base and improve the texture of the final churned cream (the fact that it’s an invert sugar helps prevent large crystal formation, and smaller crystals = creamier texture).

Here’s a dose of reality for you: food photography is not all rainbows and sunshine.

More often than not, just outside the frame of that beautiful, perfectly plated dessert is actually sheer and utter chaos.

I love (and I mean, LOVE) ice cream. But I hatehatehate photographing it. And this ice cream, which has multiple different components that all needed to be showcased in the final shot, proved to be more difficult than most.

I did everything right (or so I thought): pushing up the timeline so we could shoot on a cool day (a good decision as we probably won’t see temperatures in the 40s again until October), and even opening up the windows in the morning to cool things down inside even more. I may or may not have been wearing a thick wool sweater while shooting this.

I framed my shot using un-meltable placeholders (a ball of crinkled paper in this case, though I’ve been known to use cat toys in a pinch).

I pre-froze all my utensils, bowls, scoops and spoons so everything that touched the ice cream would be nice and cold.

I scooped my scoops onto a pre-frozen parchment-lined plate and refroze them (because just the simple act of scooping starts things a-melting, so putting them back in the freezer for a bit gives you a bit more leeway for shooting.)

Usually these handy tricks will give me just enough time to get the shot before the scoops start dripping.

But today, the scoops themselves just didn’t want to cooperate—they either had no visible chocolate, or a messy smudge of it instead of an elegant swirl. My favorite footed ice cream cups that usually make me feel oh-so-fancy instead were making me feel oh-so-frustrated (do I do one giant scoop? two smaller ones? How do I arrange the scoops so they don’t look like… er… something else entirely?)

For such a lovely ice cream flavor (one of my new favorites to be honest), I really wanted the photos to reflect the deliciousness. And somehow, they turned out ok in the end, but only because you can’t see the tears and frustration and utter chaos just outside the frame (not to mention the piles of paper towels, cream-smeared spoons, and half dozen or so scoops of partially melted ice cream dripping all over the counter and floor—it’s definitely time to give my camera a deep clean, let’s just leave it at that).

Ice cream scoop with perfect round scoop of Candied Orange Ice Cream with a visible Chocolate Fudge Swirl and bits of candied orange peel throughout.

This scoop actually, miraculously, happened the next day, after we had smushed all the semi-melted scoops from the first take back into the pan and stuck it back in the freezer, only to discover that night when we went to eat some that the reconstituted scoops didn’t look half bad.

So the next morning we went for round two, and while we didn’t have enough ice cream to reshoot the entire setup, I was able to get the above shot which is probably the best scoop of the lot (along with the photo at the top which was the very first scoop I scooped, go figure).

The aftermath shots might look like I had fun, but they only tell part of the story. Consider that the next time you see a gorgeous food photo.

Messy scene with ice cream cups with melted ice cream, drippy spoons and bits of candied orange scattered about.

But really, what is the difference between gelato and ice cream, anyway, other than the country in which it is served? They are more similar than you might think, though gelato generally has less air and is served at a warmer temperature than American-style ice cream.

It’s pretty impossible to make authentic gelato using the home ice cream makers available in the US, at least I haven’t found one that can churn without adding at least a little bit of air.

Some corners of the internet claim that egg-based custards are gelato (because gelato is so gosh darn creamy I can see how you might think this), but in reality authentic gelato actually has less butterfat (meaning more milk than cream) and rarely contains eggs. But when making ice cream at home, since we simply don’t have access to the same kind of professional equipment to make ultra-creamy ice cream, so the addition of egg yolks helps to create a creamier texture that’s more like what you’d find in Italy.

All that’s to say, this recipe is definitely ice cream. Even though it was inspired by a true Italian gelato, because of the egg yolks and the cream and the limitations of home ice cream makers, it’s definitely ice cream.

One round scoop sitting in a silver pan with Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl, ice cream scoop on the side.

Here’s How to Make it:

Making the ice cream base is just like any other custard, just with candied orange syrup used in place of the typical granulated sugar for sweetness. The syrup can be strained off a jar of candied orange peel in syrup, or you can make a quick orange syrup as instructed in the Ingredient Notes section below.

That syrup is then used as the sole sweetener in the custard base, providing both flavor and enhancing the texture (it’s a known fact that liquid invert sugars like corn syrup improve texture and inhibit the formation of large ice crystals, leading to a smoother, creamier ice cream). It’s why you’ll often see a bit of corn syrup or tapioca syrup called for in many ice cream recipes along with granulated sugar.

Oh, Fudge.

Let’s talk fudge. Because getting a perfect swirl of perfectly textured chocolate into an ice cream isn’t as easy as you might think.

You can’t use straight melted chocolate, which solidifies into chocolate chips, basically (and while I love me some straciatella gelato, that’s not what I was going for here).

Nor can you use chocolate ganache, which doesn’t set quite as firmly as straight chocolate but still freezes hard enough that it makes for difficult scooping and spooning.

On the other end of the spectrum, I didn’t want to use chocolate sauce, as the high proportion of sugar and invert sugar (like corn syrup) mixed with cocoa powder prevents it from solidifying… like, at all. Which is good when you want to drizzle it over a frozen treat, but again, not what I was looking for here.

In the end, the fudge swirl I settled on falls somewhere in between a fudge sauce and a ganache, made with both cocoa and melted chocolate as well as heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup (or a mix of corn syrup and candied orange syrup if you have any leftover).

The result is a firm yet fluid fudge that can be drizzled and swirled into the ice cream, and freezes into a toothsome, chewy texture that softens into a lusciously smooth fudge as the ice cream hits your tongue. The combination of both cocoa powder and dark chocolate makes for a robust and complex chocolate flavor that pairs beautifully with the hint of orange and candied orange pieces in every bite.

I like to chill my ice cream base overnight—the colder it is to begin with, the more quickly it will churn, and the quicker it churns, the smaller the ice crystals and the creamier the texture will be.

This took about 50 minutes in my ice cream maker, but yours may vary depending on the machine.

Once it reaches the consistency of soft serve, layer it in your storage container, alternating globs of ice cream with sprinkles of candied orange bits and squiggles of chocolate fudge.

Pre-freeze your ice cream container so it is as cold as possible. Something glass or ceramic will keep colder longer, but if you use a metal loaf pan like I did, try setting it on top of or surrounded by an ice pack as you assemble your layers to keep the bottom from melting as you assemble the layers.

Once all the ice cream is layered, pop it in the freezer overnight until firm throughout. If you’ll be freezing it longer than a few days, I recommend a lid (if your container has one), or you can press a piece of parchment or plastic wrap onto the top surface of the ice cream to prevent freezer burn and undesirable flavors from getting in.

It’s a Sweet, Sweet Swirled.

Swirling something like fudge into a batch of freshly churned ice cream isn’t as easy as pouring the fudge into the ice cream maker (doing so would mix it in far too much and you’d have a nearly solid chocolate ice cream, basically). The candied orange peel can be mixed in instead of layered if you prefer.

Instead, you want to layer the churned ice cream alternatively with fudge, so that when you scoop it you get a little of both in every scoop.

To achieve the best swirl, I recommend using a larger, wider container for your ice cream (as opposed to a tall cylinder). Something like a loaf pan or this oblong ice cream container would work well. This allows for thiner layers of ice cream alternating with chocolate, resulting in a more prominent chocolate swirl in the final scoops.

The chocolate mixture is on the thick side once cooled (and you don’t want it to be warm or it will melt your freshly churned ice cream). I found the easiest method for layering was to transfer it to a piping bag with a 1/4-inch round tip and pipe squiggles of chocolate between each layer of churned ice cream.

The piping process would have been a little easier if I hadn’t chilled it overnight (it was still pliable, but firm enough that it required a lot of hand strength to pipe). Unless you want to put your grip strength to the test, I’d recommend letting your fudge cool to room temperature for an hour or two, or chilling for 30 minutes the most. That way it will still be thin and fluid enough to allow you to drizzle it over your freshly churned ice cream, but will still set up into a soft and chewy swirl after an overnight freeze.

Or, if you opt to make the fudge ahead of time and refrigerate it, let it come up to room temperature for an hour or two before you need to swirl it.

And I shouldn’t have to mention that, should you find yourself with leftover fudge at the end, don’t throw it away: keep it in the piping bag or transfer to a jar or other container and use it as you would any other jarred fudge sauce (it also whips up into a lovely fudgy cake frosting which may actually become its own recipe at some point).

Messy scene with metal ice cream cup with two scoops of Candied Orange Ice Cream, ice cream scoop and bowl of candied orange pieces on the side, with a metal pan of scooped ice cream in the background.
Loaf pan with Candied Orange Ice Cream, with a visible swirl of chocolate fudge and bits of candied orange throughout.

As the World Churns

This homemade ice cream recipe is written to be churned in a home ice cream maker. The idea behind ice cream makers is that the act of churning, keeping the ice cream base in motion as it freezes, results in smaller ice crystals and therefore a smoother texture.

A few years ago I upgraded from my KitchenAid ice cream attachment (which works beautifully, but requires the insulated bowl to be fully frozen beforehand), to a compressor-based machine. Mainly because it allows me to churn multiple batches in a row (I often make multiple test batches simultaneously, so having to wait 48 hours for the bowl to refreeze wasn’t practical, and having a second bowl wasn’t feasible with our limited freezer space).

But what if you don’t have an ice cream maker? Don’t despair, you can still enjoy this recipe without one: just turn it into a semifreddo using a process similar to my raspberry passionfruit semifreddo recipe.

Simply prepare the ice cream base as instructed with just the milk, sugar and eggs, but leave out the 1 ½ cups heavy cream. Once the custard base is fully cooled, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks, then fold it into the cooled base. From there, spoon it into a parchment or plastic-lined loaf pan, layering it alternatively with the fudge and candied orange peel. Cover and freeze overnight, then remove it from the mold, cut into slices, and serve. It won’t be quite as creamy texture-wise as churned ice cream, but because it is sliced instead of scooped, that’s totally fine.

Spooning a scoop of Candied Orange Ice Cream, with a visible fudge swirl and bits of candied orange throughout.
Messy scene with two spoons and melted ice cream swirled with fudge and candied orange bits on a gray background.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Candied oranges in syrup: this recipe calls for candied orange peel in syrup, and both the peel and the syrup are used as components in this ice cream recipe. There are a few commercial versions available if you don’t want to make your own. You can also use the syrup leftover after making candied orange slices, then either chop up your orange slices for the rest of the ice cream or buy some already dried candied orange peel and chop that up instead.

You can make a quick orange syrup by combining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water with a few strips of orange peel in a saucepan; cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm, then remove orange peel and proceed with the recipe as instructed.

You can also just use all corn syrup, glucose syrup, golden syrup, or even tapioca syrup in the recipe instead; this will make for a chewier final texture and less orange flavor. Something like an orange-flavored beverage syrup (though I’d recommend only using 1/4 cup at most, and the rest corn syrup to approximate a similar texture and flavor). Honey, while technically an invert sugar like the other syrups mentioned, would work similarly, but the honey flavor would most definitely overpower everything else; for that reason I do not recommend using more than a tablespoon or two in this recipe.

Candied orange peel: If you made the candied orange peel in syrup you have both the syrup and the orange peel pieces you need for this recipe. That said, you can also buy candied orange peel that has already been dried/crystalized, just chop it up into small pieces and fold or layer it into your final churned ice cream.

Orange extract: just a little bit of orange extract mixed in to the final ice cream base will help enhance the orange flavor, but it is optional and can be left out.

Guar Gum: adding just a little bit of powdered guar gum to your ice cream base will give it a smoother texture and a longer shelf life (I find homemade ice creams often get weird and chewy after a week or two, the guar gum helps prevent that). That said, you can leave it out.

Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl (Crema del Doge Gelato)

Candied Orange Ice Cream with Chocolate Fudge Swirl

Based on "Crema del Doge" gelato flavor from Venice, Italy, with a rich cream base sweetened with candied orange syrup, studded with bits of candied orange peel and swirled with a ripple of chewy chocolate fudge.
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For Ice Cream:

  • 1 ½ cups / 360 g whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups / 360 g heavy cream, divided
  • ½ cup / 160 g candied orange syrup*
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoon guar gum, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon orange extract, optional (use more or less to taste)

For Fudge Swirl:

  • ½ cup / 100 g granulated sugar
  • ½ cup / 120 g heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons / 35 g Dutch process cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup / 85 g corn syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 2.5 oz / 70 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • cup / 170 g chopped candied orange peel


  • Drain about 10 ounces of candied orange peel in syrup, separating the syrup from the solid peel. Spread pieces of peel out on a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and let dry out for a day or so; once they've dried out a bit, chop into 1/4-inch pieces and toss with granulated sugar to keep the bits from sticking together (if using already dried candied orange peel, skip this step and just chop it).
  • In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup of cream (keep remaining 1 cup heavy cream in the refrigerator for later), and strained orange syrup and salt. If you don't have quite enough orange syrup, you can top it off with light corn, golden, glucose or tapioca syrup to make 1/2 cup.
  • Place saucepan over medium heat and warm until it starts to steam and bubble around the edges, but don't let it fully boil.
  • Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a bowl until smooth and one shade lighter in color.
  • Slowly ladle hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking continuously, until about half of the milk mixture has been incorporated and egg yolk mixture is hot to the touch. This 'tempering' step will prevent the egg from scrambling when added to the hot milk mixture.
  • Pour egg yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining milk; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and mixture reaches 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
  • Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into heat-proof bowl.
  • Whisk together 1 tablespoon granulated sugar with powdered guar gum in a small bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold cream until evenly dissolved, then stir into warm ice cream base along with the rest of the reserved heavy cream and orange extract (if using).
  • Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until completely chilled through (the colder the ice cream base is, the more quickly it will churn).

For Fudge Swirl:

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, cream, cocoa powder (sifted if clumpy), corn syrup and salt. If you have any candied orange syrup left you can use it in place of some of the corn syrup.
  • Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate, gently stirring until completely melted and smooth.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to a piping bag or a zip-top plastic bag. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or let sit at cool room temperature for an hour or two until you're ready to use. If fudge was chilled for longer, let it warm up to room temperature for an hour or so before you need to swirl. Cut off the corner of the bag or fit with a 1/4-inch piping tip.

Churn Ice Cream:

  • Pour chilled ice cream base into ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Have a shallow, long container (like a loaf pan), pre-chilling in the freezer while your ice cream churns.
  • Once ice cream reaches the consistency of soft serve, spoon a bit into your chilled container, spreading it out into an even layer. Sprinkle with candied orange bits (smush them a bit to mix up with the cream), and squeeze a squiggle of fudge over top. Repeat with additional layers of ice cream, orange bits, and fudge, until container is filled and all of ice cream has been used. End with a final sprinkle of candied orange and a drizzle of fudge, then place container in the freezer to freeze overnight until solid.
  • If storing in the freezer for more than a few days, press a piece of parchment paper onto the surface of the ice cream or cover container with a lid to prevent freezer burn. With the guar gum, the ice cream will keep quite well for about a month.


  • *If you don’t have quite enough orange syrup, you can top it off with any other syrup (like corn syrup, tapioca syrup, or golden syrup) to make 1/2 cup.
  • **You can also make a quick(ish) orange syrup by combining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water with a few strips of orange peel. Cook until it begins to boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm, then remove orange peel and proceed according to instructions.
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