Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coffee ice cream

Who says you can't have ice cream for breakfast? Since bacon and eggs ice cream doesn't sound too appealing (although it has been done and I've never actually tried it) I think I'll stick with coffee ice cream for now (full disclosure, this past week my breakfast consisted of raspberry acai sorbet, but thats healthy because it has fruit... right?). Now, most coffee ice cream recipes I've seen say something along the lines of make your standard vanilla ice cream custard base, then add some espresso powder or instant coffee before you pour the mix into your ice cream makers. I thinks that's simply cheating... coffee ice cream should have coffee as its main ingredient and not an afterthought! The problem, though, is that coffee as you drink it is really just water, and adding coffee grounds to an ice cream base would result in a grainy, disgusting disappointment.

This is where a little science comes into play. You see, when you brew coffee normally, you're using heat as part of the mechanism for extracting all of the lovely flavors and aroma's that you expect from a normal cup of coffee. The reason isn't so much because heat is the best method for doing so, its simply because we don't feel like waiting. Heck, espresso was invented simply as a method for making coffee even faster than it already took. But if we have some time on our hands, we can achieve the same results without heat. And without relying on heat, we no longer need to stick to water as our sole extraction liquid. Now, you may be thinking that I'm suggesting alcohol, and you can extract flavors this way, which is how vanilla, mint, nut, and numerous other flavorings are extracted. But I figured why add more ingredients than necessary, infuse the milk!

Thats right, I directly infused the coffee into the milk before making the custard base. Its similar to cold brewing coffee but takes twice as long and obviously needs to be done in the fridge. Using whole milk over half and half sacrifices some of the richness that you lose from having less fat, but makes filtering later much easier and quicker. As far as purity goes, its hard to beat a recipe that has only 5 ingredients.

Coffee Ice Cream:
2 qts. whole milk
2 cups coarsely ground coffee
6 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 good pinch salt
  1. Add the coffee grounds to the milk in a big enough container (a 1/2 full gallon jug of milk works best) and place in your fridge for at least two days, giving it a shake every few hours if possible. After the infusion period (mine was 4 days simply because it was, 2 days works just as well) strain the milk through a coffee filter into a receiving container and then transfer to a large sauce pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a heat proof work bowl and whisk until creamy. Add 1 cup of the warm milk slowly to the eggs while constantly whisking to temper. Add one more cup of warmed milk, whisking till thoroughly combined and then pour the whole mix back into the sauce pan.
  3. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture gets thick enough that it will coat the back of a spoon and drawing your finger through it will leave a clean area. This is the standard custard method for ice cream bases so learn to recognize this point. When thickened, pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large enough container and chill in your fridge for a few hours.
  4. Pour the chilled custard mixture into your ice cream maker and let it go for about an hour or follow the manufacturers instructions. Pack into containers and put in your freezer to harden.

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Whisking the eggs and sugar before adding the heated milk to temper. Be careful to slowly add the heated milk so you don't make scrambled eggs!

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Small scoops may disappoint some, but see below for my ultimate serving suggestion.

So, there we go, coffee ice cream without resorting to espresso powder or instant coffee. The direct infusion of the milk method works for other flavors as well, but thats another post now isn't it. As I said above, this is the perfect excuse for any coffee drinker to have ice cream for breakfast, but what about those who just can't get the day started without a stop at Starbucks? Here's my advice: get a small coffee cup (or a large one if you really wish) and fill it with small scoops of coffee ice cream. Drizzle caramel syrup and hot fudge on top, then add some chopped walnuts and a dollop of whipped cream. Voila, turtle mocha sundae! Now thats a cure for a case of the Mondays.

I've got a whole back-log of ice cream recipes now, but I'll try to space them out with some other tasty items.

Cheers, Mike.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I want coffee ice cream!!!