Most Americans associate rocky road with ice cream, where it typically shows up as chocolate ice cream with nuts (often almonds) and marshmallows. Talk about decadent! Rocky road is one of those throwback flavors we all love, no matter how long it’s been around. Or maybe we love it because it’s been around so long. Either way, rocky road is one of America’s favorite ice cream flavors.
As Mental Floss reports, there are some conflicting stories around the history of rocky road ice cream. One story involves William Dreyer, who opened an ice cream shop and teamed up with Joseph Edy to start an ice cream and candy company. He reportedly used his wife’s sewing scissors to cut up marshmallows and walnuts, then added them to chocolate ice cream. Eventually, they replaced the walnuts with almonds and called the flavor “Rocky Road,” a reference to the 1929 stock market crash’s effect on the American economy.
Another story involves an ice cream shop called Fentons Creamery, founded by Eldridge Seth Fenton. The brand claims Eldridge Seth’s grandson, Melvin Fenton, created rocky road. And other sources allege George Farren, a candy maker who worked at Fentons, invented the flavor.
Whichever story you believe, rocky road is an iconic flavor with devoted fans across generations. But ice cream isn’t the only way to serve this beloved flavor to your family. The recipes ahead offer a variety of ways to enjoy the classic flavor. Whether you prefer candy or ice cream, we have something for you.
1. Mini Rocky Road Cookies
These mini rocky road cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod are the perfect twist on a classic flavor. They’re chewy, chocolaty, and crunchy thanks to the almonds. We love that the recipe recommends using Mallow Bits, which are like the tiny marshmallows you get in a hot chocolate mix. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that the recipe notes they’re even better with a scoop of the same ice cream between two cookies for the ultimate treat.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup Mallow Bits or other mini marshmallows
- 1 cup chopped almonds
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with a Silpat baking mat.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla extract and mix until blended.
Gradually add the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, and mix them until the flour disappears. Next, stir in the chocolate chips, Mallow Bits, and the chopped almonds. Drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet by the rounded teaspoon. Make sure that the cookies are spaced about an inch apart.
Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, or until they’re set around the edges. You want them to still be soft in the center, so don’t overbake them. Remove them from the oven, and let them sit on the baking sheet for two minutes. Then move them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.
2. Peanut Butter Rocky Road Brownies
For a lot of people, saying “nuts” and “chocolate” in the same sentence automatically means peanut butter. So, you can’t go wrong with Betty Crocker‘s rocky road brownies with peanut butter. This recipe calls for a box of brownie mix, which is a convenient shortcut. Though they specify their own brand, you can use whichever brownie mix is your current favorite. This is definitely a dessert that the peanut butter fiends in your family will love.
- 1 (21-ounce) box brownie mix
- Water, vegetable oil, and eggs as directed on the brownie mix box
- 1 (7-ounces) jar marshmallow crème
- ½ cup of creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 30 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped and chopped
- ½ cup of chopped salted peanuts
- ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 325 degrees if you’re using a dark or nonstick pan. Grease only the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch pan with shortening or cooking spray.
Make the brownies, following the directions on the box to get cake-like brownies in a 13-by-9-inch pan. Cool them completely, or for about an hour.
In a medium bowl, beat the marshmallow crème, peanut butter, and milk with an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth and creamy. Spread the mixture over the cooled brownies. Then sprinkle with candies and peanuts.
In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and vegetable oil uncovered on high, for 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until melted. Drizzle over the brownies. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the chocolate is set. For traditional brownies, cut into six rows by four rows. Or, you can cut them into bite-sized squares and serve them in decorative papers.
3. Rocky Road Brownies
Another delicious twist on rocky road is this brownie recipe from Taste and Tell. Recipe author Deborah writes these brownies come straight from her childhood, when they were one of her mom’s specialties. If you want to feel like a kid again, we’d argue there’s nothing better than a great brownie recipe, especially if that recipe includes marshmallows, nuts, and a chocolate frosting that gets poured over everything.
- ½ cup butter
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 4 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- ½ cup butter
- 6 tablespoons evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup nuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter on nonstick cooking spray.
Heat butter in a small saucepan until melted, then add the chocolate and continue to heat until the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they turn light and foamy. Then, add the salt, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Then gently fold in the flour and the pecans, being careful not to overmix. Pour into the prepared baking dish, transfer to oven, and bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt together the cocoa, shortening, and butter, stirring frequently. Add the evaporated milk and the vanilla. Pour the chocolate mixture over the powdered sugar in a large bowl and mix them to combine. Stir in the nuts.
Sprinkle the marshmallows over the top of the cooled brownies, then quickly pour the warm chocolate frosting over the top. The frosting will thicken as it cools, so you should allow it to cool completely before you cut the brownies.
4. Rocky Road Candy
If you prefer to keep things classic, Food52’s Alice Medrich writes you can easily make rocky road candy yourself, even if you don’t know how to temper chocolate (or don’t want to bother with the arduous process). Plus, she promises this version of the candy will be far better than what you can buy at the store. That sounds like a win-win to us, whether you’re feeding guests or just want a sweet snack to share with your family.
- 8 ounces regular large marshmallows, snipped in quarters
- 2 slightly generous cups walnut halves
- 2 pounds dark, milk, or white chocolate (not chips) melted and either cooled to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or tempered
Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a large rubber or silicone spatula to fold the marshmallows and walnuts into the chocolate. Turn the mixture over and over, and scrape the chocolate from the bottom and sides of the bowl, until all of the pieces are coated with chocolate. Then, scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet to form what Medrich describes as “a long bumpy log shape about 3½ to 4 inches wide and 20 to 22 inches long.”
If the chocolate was tempered, put the baking sheet in a cool place or in front of a fan for at least 30 minutes to set the chocolate. If the chocolate wasn’t tempered, set the pan in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.
When the chocolate is completely set, use a sharp serrated knife to cut the log into diagonal slices that are about a half inch thick. Store in an airtight container in a cool place if the chocolate was tempered, or in the refrigerator if it was not.
5. Rocky Road Ice Cream
Anyone with an ice cream maker at home can make their own rich, intense rocky road ice cream thanks to this seriously craving-inducing recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. The secret is the chocolate ice cream recipe that forms the base. And once the marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips have been folded in, you can either enjoy your ice cream in a porcelain bowl or go all out with waffle bowls dipped in chocolate and coated with chopped peanuts.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ cup chocolate chips
Directions: Warm one cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Whisk thoroughly to blend the cocoa. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove the saucepan from the heat, then stir in the chocolate until smooth. Stir in the remaining cup of cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually pour the warm milk into the egg yolks.,, whisking constantly as you pour, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom as you stir, and continue stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. (It should reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.) Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Then stir in the vanilla. Set over an ice bath and stir until cool.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. Then, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, you can whisk it to thin it out. Once the ice cream is finished churning, you can fold in the marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
6. Rocky Road Mocha
If you love chocolaty drinks just as much as you like chocolaty snacks, The Flavor Blender has an amazing recipe for you. This rocky road mocha is sweetened with toasted marshmallow creamer, spiked with Kahlua (or rum or bourbon), and topped with peanut butter marshmallow fluff and raspberry jam. It may not be quite as quick as picking up a mocha at your local Starbucks. But we promise that this version will taste so much better.
- ¾ cup of strong hot coffee (or hot milk if you’re making hot chocolate)
- ¼ to ⅓ cup of chocolate sauce or 4 tablespoons hot chocolate mix
- Toasted marshmallow creamer to top
- 2 shots of Kahlua
- ½ cup marshmallow fluff
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- Raspberry jelly
- ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup of water
- Pinch of salt
Directions: To make the chocolate sauce, place the semisweet chocolate chips, salt, and water in a heatproof bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring, until the chocolate melts completely. Set aside.
For the topping, place the marshmallow fluff and peanut butter in a bowl. Fold gently to ripple the peanut butter into the marshmallow fluff, but don’t overmix. Set aside.
If you’re serving the drink in a glass, you can (optionally) drizzle chocolate sauce along the inside wall. Mix the chocolate sauce with the hot coffee. Stir to combine. Add the shots of Kalhua. Divide the mix between two glasses or mugs. Pour in the toasted marshmallow creamer, then top with the peanut butter-marshmallow mixture, the raspberry jam, and a toasted marshmallow. Serve immediately.
7. Rocky Road Popcorn
According to Barbara Bakes, this popcorn may be the perfect snack. We’ll admit, it’s got a lot going for it. It’s fudgy but crunchy, and salty but chocolaty. Plus, it’s easy to make. In fact, the recipe even starts with a bag of microwave popcorn. If you can’t decide between sweet and salty when picking a snack for your next movie night, this recipe may be the perfect way to get the best of both worlds.
- 1 bag microwave popcorn
- ½ cup salted cashew nuts
- ½ cup miniature marshmallows
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup your favorite chocolate spread
Directions: Pop the bag of popcorn, and pour it out onto a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Remove any unpopped kernels, then mix in the nuts and marshmallows.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the butter, sugar, and corn syrup, stirring every 30 seconds. When the mixture comes to a boil, mix in the chocolate spread until well combined. Dollop the chocolate mixture evenly over the pan of popcorn. Then, use a spatula to toss the popcorn and coat it with the chocolate mixture.
8. Salted Rocky Road Fudge
A rich fudge is another classic way to enjoy your favorite flavor. We particularly love this recipe from Always Order Dessert. Recipe author Alejandra Ramos notes there are many methods for making fudge, but she favors the classic condensed milk technique, which makes for straightforward assembly. She also recommends combining semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, and adding a tablespoon of Kosher salt, to keep this treat from getting too sweet.
- 6 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 teaspoons flaky Kosher salt
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1½ cups roasted salted almonds, whole
Directions: Coat the bottom and sides of a 19-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Then, line with a long piece of parchment paper that overhangs the sides. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the two types of chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk, and the butter. Set over medium-low heat, and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Add the vanilla extract and the salt. Then, fold in the marshmallows and the almonds.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread evenly. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and chill in the refrigerator for two hours.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator, and lift the parchment paper to remove the fudge from the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut into desired portions before serving. You can store the fudge in an airtight container at (cool) room temperature for seven to 10 days.
9. Vegan Rocky Road Ice Cream
Following a vegan diet doesn’t have to mean swearing off ice cream, which is great news for rocky road fans! Food52’s Helen Williams has a tasty ice cream recipe that’s perfect if you or somebody else in your household is steering clear of dairy. Key to the recipe is finding a vegan marshmallow. Williams recommends Dandies, and says that the brand’s vegan marshmallows are pretty easy to track down.
- 30 ounces organic coconut milk (Williams advises full fat is best)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons arrowroot
- 1 cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
- 1 cup vegan mini marshmallows
Directions: Combine coconut milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract in a medium stockpot. Bring to a light simmer over medium heat, whisking vigorously to ensure that the sugar is dissolved and the cocoa powder is thoroughly incorporated.
Put two to three tablespoons of the warm mixture into a small bowl. Add the arrowroot, and whisk until completely smooth. Add the arrowroot mixture back into the base. Whisk together for a minute more, and then remove from heat.
Transfer the ice cream base to a large bowl, and refrigerate three to four hours, or overnight. Once completely chilled, add it to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer your ice cream to a freezer-safe container, layering the chopped almonds and marshmallows throughout. Move the container to the back of the freezer so that the ice cream can harden completely. That should take about four to six hours, depending on how cold your freezer is.
10. White Chocolate Rocky Road Bars
Food52 user ausiefoodie writes that in her family, a white chocolate version of rocky road is the tradition. Try it yourself with these bars, which incorporate marshmallows, pistachios, and gummy candies. While you can choose whatever chocolate you like, the author recommends choosing a chocolate from Valrhona, Lindt, or a manufacturer with a similar reputation for quality.
- 18 ounces high-quality marshmallows
- 2½ pounds quality white chocolate
- 1 pound whole raw pistachios
- 16 ounces natural flavored gummy candies
Directions: Roast the pistachios 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Check them every few minutes so that they don’t burn.
Chop the marshmallows into bite-sized pieces if you’re using large marshmallows.
Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly. Alternately, you can use the microwave. Make sure that the chocolate is chopped into pieces, and then place it in the microwave on a medium heat setting for about three minutes. Stir in between each minute of cooking. Once about half of the chocolate is melted, the rest will melt if you remove the chocolate from the microwave and continue to stir. Be sure not to burn the chocolate.
In a large bowl, mix the pistachios, marshmallows, and gummy candies. Pour over the melted chocolate, and mix quickly to combine.
Pour into a lined 9-by-11-inch brownie pan. Refrigerate for several hours, until set. Once set, remove the pan from the refrigerator and take the chocolate out of the pan. Slice the chocolate into bars or bite-sized squares.