RECIPE: Coffee caramel ice cream
Heading into pastry school, I most anticipated the bread-focused weeks because, well, let’s just say Oprah and I have similar feelings about bread. Surprisingly, though, bread was my least favorite part of school, with the chocolate and frozen desserts (hello, ice cream!) sections reigning supreme instead.
Thinking about it more, though, I realized these two subjects cover the short list of desserts I would eat as a very picky child: chocolate truffles/solid-chocolate candy bars and vanilla ice cream. Although vanilla constituted the one and only flavor option in my eyes, my grandparents would (unsuccessfully) try to trick me into eating coffee ice cream, the go-to flavor from their New England upbringing. No need for trickery nowadays: I’ll happily eat most ice cream flavors, most certainly coffee.
When I make this coffee caramel ice cream at home, I do a hot infusion of high-end beans (Blue Bottle and Equator are on current rotation), and I counteract the bitterness from said beans with a hit of salted caramel added directly to the base before spinning. As for the base, I’ve adapted Humphry Slocombe’s at-home recipe from its book for most of my ice cream projects, choosing to reduce the salt considerably, use a combination of granulated and brown sugars, and add coffee and caramel into the mix for this ice cream.
The resulting ice cream has a subtle-yet-distinct flavor profile and pairs well with roasted hazelnuts, chocolate sauce, and brownies.
Coffee caramel ice cream
Author: Kathleen Hayes; base recipe adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book
Yield: ~1 quart of ice cream
Ice cream base
465g heavy cream (around 2 cups)
244g whole milk (around 1 cup)
140g granulated sugar
50g brown sugar
50g egg yolks
22g coffee beans
3 pinches of kosher salt
~¼ cup of salted caramel (I’ve be using Little Bee Baking’s salted caramel, so use your favorite brand or check out Serious Eats’ Easy Caramel Sauce to make your own)
Ice cream maker
Chinoise or fine-meshed strainer
Thermometer (I like my Thermapen)
Large bowl for an ice bath
In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt. Heat until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat. Add in your coffee beans and cover securely with plastic wrap to start your hot infusion (the wrap will puff up and then drop back down from the steam). Let this sit for 10 minutes.
While your cream base is infusing, whisk together your sugars and egg yolks until combined.
Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl
After 10 minutes, remove the plastic wrap from your pan, strain your beans out of the mixture and return the infused base back to the same pot. Reheat until just under a boil, and then turn off the heat.
Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼ - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together. Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture of eggs+sugar+cream base back into your saucepan.
Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 168 - 172 F, then remove from heat. Congrats - you made creme anglaise!
Pour your creme anglaise mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath. Stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature. Then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.
Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream. If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to the chilled baking dish and let it set for a few hours.
Make it without salted caramel: straight-up coffee deliciousness
Swirl in chocolate sauce as it comes out of the machine for a mocha swirl ice cream variation
Mix in roasted nuts
Try infusing the coffee longer for a more-intense flavor