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Author Notes: I took a gap year between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Let's just say I needed a break to find myself. One day I found myself on a bus between Mexico City and Campeche, a town on the Yucatán peninsula, and I was sitting next to an elderly Mexican woman. She didn't speak a word of English and I didn't speak a word of Spanish, but early in the morning as we were approaching some town between those two places, she offered me a cup of coffee from her Thermos.
The coffee was milky and sweet, and it was fragrant. Think café con leche with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel, left in a Thermos for several hours and opened only when the gray of the morning was pouring through the windows of a long-haul bus. —Hi, I'm Brian.
Makes 1 quart
cups heavy cream
cups 2% milk
cup nonfat milk powder, optional
cup dark brown sugar
cup finely ground coffee
teaspoon Kosher salt
teaspoon ground cinnamon
chile de arbol, split
- In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, milk powder, 1/4 cup sugar, coffee, cinnamon, chile de arbol, and the salt.
- Put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for about 10 minutes.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the remaining sugar until smooth. Set aside.
- Uncover the cream mixture and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
- Carefully scoop out 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.
- Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly in a figure eight motion, until it is thickened, coats the back of the spatula or a wooden spoon, and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula.
- Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. Set the container into an ice-water bath, wash your spatula, and stir occasionally until the base is cool. Remove from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe Made with Coffee