Monday, April 9, 2007

Coffee Ice Cream

Sometimes when I'm on the bus commuting to and from work, I like to think about flavor combinations (white chocolate with green tea, almond extract with lychee). Sort of like matching colors or clothes, but instead debating whether certain flavors compliment each other. I spent some time thinking about which ice cream flavor would be best for the Nutella brownie ice cream sandwich. In the end I chose coffee because the chocolate and hazelnut flavors combined with coffee reminded me of a hazelnut mocha.

Most of the coffee ice cream recipes I found called for instant espresso powder so I went out and bought some (I read that Medaglia D’Oro is a good brand). Since I had never made homemade ice cream before, I researched how to make the ice cream base. Some recipes were simply shocking - one called for an alarming 9 yolks! Most recipes used either a 2:1 (resulting ice cream of around 15% milk fat) or 1:1 (20% milk fat) ratio of whole milk to heavy cream and a ratio of 2:1 yolk to liquid. This got me thinking, was it possible to make homemade ice cream taste rich and creamy but use less cream and less yolks? In this recipe, I used only 2 yolks (since I had used 2 whites the day before) and 2 cups half and half, which is a combination of milk and cream that is around 11% milk fat.

I think I skimped too much on the milk fat and yolks in this recipe. The custard did not thicken either because I did not heat it up sufficiently since I didn’t have a thermometer I was afraid of overcooking the custard or because the yolk content is too low. Overall the conclusion from this first experiment is that the ice cream was okay but not perfect. The consistency was not icy but it wasn’t creamy either (unfortunately the photo makes the ice cream look really icy for some reason). Half and half and 2 yolks just isn’t enough for the rich and smooth mouth feel of really excellent ice cream. Next time, I’ll have to use more egg yolks and more cream.

Coffee Ice Cream
2 C half and half
2 egg yolks
1/2 C sugar (it was a little too sweet for me so next time I will use 6 Tbsp instead)
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
Optional: 1/4 C chocolate covered coffee beans, chopped.

Whisk yolks with sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, about 2 to 3 minutes. It should fall from the whisk in ribbons.

In a saucepan heat 1 cup of half and half until 180º (I didn't have a thermometer so I just winged it). While whisking the yolks, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup of the hot half and half into the egg mixture, repeat with another 1/4 cup until the whole cup of the half and half has been added. This tempers the egg yolks and brings them up to a warm temperature without scrambling them. A neat trick is to wrap a damp kitchen towel around the base of your mixing bowl. This prevents the bowl from slipping around on the counter and frees your hand from holding the bowl to both drizzle and whisk.

Whisk in the espresso powder and salt to the custard mixture.

Add the custard mixture back to the saucepan over medium low heat and heat it up to 180º. The custard is supposed to thicken but mine didn’t. To test if it is thickened enough, dip a spoon in the custard and run your finger along the back of it, if the edges remain clean then it's done, if the edges run and blurs then it's not thick enough.

Chill the custard in the fridge for a few hours until cold. After the custard is chilled, whisk in the vanilla extract and the remaining cup of half and half. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. A few minutes before the ice cream is done add the chopped chocolate covered coffee beans if using.

Elise has a great coffee ice cream recipe that uses whole beans (can be made with decaf beans). I’ll have to try making coffee ice cream this way next time.


sher said...

Oh, I have been thinking about coffee ice cream lately! Now I'm REALLY thinking about it after looking at that picture. I'm sorry it wasn't exactly how you wished it to be. But, I woullike to try yours and see how it tasted. :):)

Melting Wok said...

I totally second that !! Too bad I'm on a diet now, I usually buy those 2 for 5 bucks here at Albertsons, but not now *sob sob*

Amy said...

Hi Sher,
Even though this batch wasn't perfect it leaves room for more experimention which means - more ice cream! :D

Hi Melting Wok,
It's definitely a "light" ice cream so I'm sure you can still get away with it ;D.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I think you can call your result ice milk. Isn't that the lighter version? :) I can't believe you tried making your own ice cream. I'm too intimidated.

But I really, really want to try making (actually eating) lemongrass coconut milk ice cream. Why don't you try that and send some down to me? ;)

Amy said...

Hi WC,
Hehehe ice milk is a very funny name. There are some easier versions of ice cream where you just mix the ingredients together and throw it in the machine. I tried the custard way, which is a bit harder especially for an ice cream newbie like me. :P I actually really want to make coconut ice cream too. Though I've never tried lemongrass in ice cream so I'm not sure how that tastes. If only ice cream ships better. :P


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