Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nibs

Have you ever hated something with a passion undying only to find yourself one day...actually liking that same thing?

You know, things like "Make Love in this Club" by Usher? Tattoos (sorry mom and dad)? Your bangs? Mike's Hard Lemonade? 

I cannot be alone in this.

Since the beginning of (my) time, I have espoused coffee ice cream as a farce, disgusting, unworthy of being among the 31 flavors. An abomination, in my mind. Until unbeknownst to me, coffee ice cream slowly eeked its way into my life as something that I actually adore. I blame this change of heart on my go-to Portland ice cream shoppe, Salt & Straw. These guys know a thing or two about unique flavor combinations (Arbequina Olive Oil, Honey Balsalmic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Pear with Blue Cheese) and after a recent bi-weekly trip, I was inspired to steep, brew, chill, and churn my very own variety of Stumptown Coffee Ice Cream, complete with cocoa nibs. 

These are cocoa nibs. They are wonderful. I found mine at Whole Foods.

I can say that this is easily some of the best ice cream I have ever had (who am I?) and that I get excited to drink my morning coffee because it tricks my brain into thinking I'm noshing on this ice 

The process is pretty standard as far as ice cream making goes, and does require an ice cream m
aker and a fine mesh strainer. I know you're trying to minimize the kitchen gadgets. But it's summer, and ice cream is necessary. 

Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nibs
inspired by Salt & Straw, a Portland ice cream shoppe; recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

1+1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1+1/2 c. whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
1+1/2 c. heavy cream, separated

5 egg yolks, large
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground coffee

1/2 c. cocoa nibs

In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup of the cream. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon until warm. Once warm, cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for one hour.

To me, this is a be
autiful sight. 

While you're waiting, make an ice bath by pouring ice cubes and cold water into a large bowl. (You'll eventually set another large bowl that contains your liquid ice cream on top of the ice water so that the bottom of the bowl is immersed in water. The ice bath will help everything cool down nicely.)

After the beans steep, rewarm the coffee-infused milk mixture over low heat. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a bowl large enough to sit on top of the ice bath, and set a mesh strainer on top of it (this bowl doesn't need to be in the ice bath right now).

Separately, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.

Now this is the part I always feel I need three arms for. But we can do this.

Slowly pour the warm coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Make sure your coffee mixture isn't too hot - lest you wind up with scrambled eggs in your coffee ice cream. Whisk constantly, and scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan that held the warm coffee mixture.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-10 minutes. This is custard. Custard flecked with coffee beans.

Pour the custard through the strainer you set aside earlier (which is sitting on top of a bowl with the remaining 1 cup of cream) and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to transfer as much of the coffee flavor as possible, then discard the beans (sad face). 

Mix in the vanilla and the finely ground coffee and stir until cool over your ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly (read: 12-24 hours. painful.) in the refrigerator then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers' instructions (This usually involves incorporating the mixture into a very frozen ice cream mixer and churning for around 20 minutes).

About 5-10 minutes through the mix, incorporate the cocoa nibs.

This ice cream came together quickly! After 10 minutes, mine was semi-solid.

Ready for the eating after about 15 minutes in the ice cream mixer.

Unlike the salted caramel ice cream I made last summer (which was decidedly softer), this ice cream is very firm, very dense. It will last frozen in your refrigerator for about 3 months. 

Serving suggestion: upon waking up, in lieu of coffee.


  1. I really don't like drinking coffee (although who knows, I may yet end up becoming it's biggest fan!) but I love coffee-flavoured things. The idea of this creamy ice cream with those cooca nibs in is just heaven.

    1. I'm telling you...the love affair will sneak up on you.