This coffee ice cream is creamy and just-sweet, underlined with the deep flavor of freshly roasted coffee and italicized by little pieces of good dark chocolate. The recipe requires a bit of time and patience the first time you run through it, but after you do it once, you'll find the principles very simple ~ use fresh, good-quality ingredients and take your time ~ the result is well worth it. You can vary the intensity of the coffee flavor by increasing or decreasing the amount of coffee grounds used and the amount of time they are steeped in the hot custard base. The methodology for making the basic vanilla custard base was learned from "Foolproof Ice Cream", a recipe I found on this site ~ it is the mother of all ice cream custard recipes. —nlog2n
- Makes 1 quart
Baileys Original Irish Cream (optional)
Creme de Cacao (optional)
Coarse-ground coffee of your choice (I prefer "Vienna Roast" from Whole Foods ~ it has sweet toffee notes)
Bar of good-quality dark chocolate (I prefer Sirius Icelandic Chocolate from Whole Foods)
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg for a minute or two, until light and airy and appears pale yellow. Whisk in 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract, Baileys and Creme de Cacao (if using any) and beat the mixture for another minute or two. Set aside.
- In a clean, dry saucepan, combine the heavy cream, whole milk and 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on your desired level of sweetness) and heat on medium or medium-low (depending on how strong your stove is), whisking from time to time to dissolve the sugar, until the mixture reaches approximately 175 deg F (you can use a candy thermometer, or you can watch and listen to the mixture - it should almost start to simmer into a boil but not quite).
- Remove the saucepan off the heat and add a tiny stream of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking the egg mixture quickly and continuously as the tiny stream of hot cream is incorporated. Do this until approximately 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture has been whisked into the egg mixture. Quick and continuous whisking prevents the egg mixture from scrambling upon contact with the hot cream mixture.
- Gradually add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan containing the remaining cream mixture, whisking the cream mixture quickly and continuously as the egg mixture is gradually incorporated into the cream mixture.
- Whisk the coarse-ground coffee into the cream mixture and allow it to steep for at least 2 to 3 minutes (or longer for a more intense coffee flavor).
- Heat the saucepan containing the custard mixture on medium, whisking frequently, until the mixture just reaches 180 deg F (just barely reaching boiling). Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and give the mixture another few good whisks off heat.
- Strain the hot custard mixture through a fine sieve lined with 2 to 3 layers of cheesecloth into a large bowl (ceramic, glass or stainless steel, not plastic), making sure to capture all the coarse coffee grounds in the cheesecloth layers. The cheesecloth and coffee grounds can be discarded or composted or re-purposed for other uses.
- Allow the filtered custard base to cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight). Prepare your ice cream maker canister if it requires 24 hours to pre-freeze before use. I use the Cuisinart ICE-21.
- When you are ready to churn the ice cream, set up and turn on the machine. Slowly and carefully pour the chilled custard base into the churning canister through the opening at the top. Meanwhile, finely chop the bar of dark chocolate on a parchment-paper lined surface (chopping diagonal one way, then diagonal the other way) until you have pieces of chocolate smaller than chocolate chips. After the ice cream has been churning for about 15 minutes, add the finely chopped dark chocolate to the ice cream. Continue to let the mixture churn for another 5 minutes, or until the texture of the mixture thickens into a soft-serve consistency.
- Turn the machine off and unplug it (safety first!). Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, quickly transfer the ice cream into freezer-safe airtight container(s) and freeze for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight). Label your container(s) with the date and flavor if you desire. Enjoy some of the freshly churned ice cream by cleaning what's left in the canister! The sugar and egg (along with the little splash of liqueur) help preserve the ice cream's creamy texture when it freezes, so that you can scoop without thawing the container. You can use instant coffee/espresso granules in place of the coarse coffee grounds, but I like the original flavor of freshly ground coffee beans.