My first fond memory of fried ice cream was during a high school outing at a Mexican restaurant, and I was hooked ever since. If it’s on the menu, I’m ordering it. Fried ice cream is prepared several different ways. Some are dipped in a tempura batter and some are coated only in coconut. My version is dipped in a lightly seasoned egg wash and then coated in panko. But wait a second, there’s a surprise...chocolate lava center! Yup, I went there.
For the chocolate sauce: Combine the brown sugar and cocoa in a small saucepan. Whisk to break up any lumps. Add the milk and cook over medium heat just until it comes to a boil, whisking often. Once it comes to a boil, whisk constantly for 45 seconds. Remove from the heat then whisk in the vanilla.
Strain the chocolate sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl.
Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until ready to use, for up to 1 week.
For the cakes: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place six 4-ounce aluminum ramekins on it.
Reserve at least 1/2 cup of the ice cream and place in the freezer. Evenly divide the remainder of the ice cream into the aluminum ramekins, packing it in.
Make a well the size of a quarter in the center of each ramekin of ice cream but do now allow the bottom of the ramekin to show. If your ice cream is beginning to melt, place it into the freezer for 10 to15 minutes.
Remove the chocolate sauce from the refrigerator and pour half of it into a pastry bag. The remainder of the sauce can be used as a topping or saved for another day.
Pipe the chocolate sauce into each ice cream well about 3/4 of the way to the top. Using the reserved 1/2 cup ice cream, cover up the chocolate sauce in each ramekin. Smooth out the tops then return the ramekins of ice cream to the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Combine the eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk until fully incorporated. Set aside.
Place the panko in another medium bowl. Set aside.
While working with 1 aluminum ramekin at a time, keep the remaining ones in the freezer. Cut a slit in the side of the aluminum ramekins with scissors. Very carefully, remove the ice cream cake in one piece from the ramekin and discard the aluminum immediately.
Dip the ice cream cake in the egg wash then in the panko to coat it all over, then repeat. Place the coated ice cream cakes on the prepared sheet pan and return them to the freezer.
Meanwhile, add enough of the oil to a large Dutch oven to deep fry. Heat the oil to 370 degrees F.
Fry 3 lava cakes at a time until the coating is crisp and golden, 45 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer with a spider or slotted spoon to a sheet pan lined with a paper towel. Only drain for a few seconds.
Dust the fried ice cream lava cakes with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately with the remaining chocolate sauce, fresh berries, fruit coulis, and/or whipped cream, if desired.