Perfect coffee needs no additions. We know, this is a hot take, but hear us out—when you grind our artisanal beans to the right size, get the water to the right temperature and let it all steep for the perfect amount of time, you get a smooth cup of joe with all the right flavors. The most amazing thing about coffee is how you can pull different notes out of it by using different methods and heat applications to suit your tastes.
None of that stops us from how much we love coffee ice cream. While perfectly loaded with cream and sugar, this rich and sweet treat always melts our troubles after a long day. Coffee’s warm notes pair flawlessly with the rest of the ingredients for something that’s more comforting and indulgent than a “wake me up” cup.
Not surprisingly, coffee ice cream is in the top 10 most popular ice cream flavors for Americans according to a survey done by YouGov in 2020. There’s even a National Coffee Ice Cream day on September 6th, so mark your calendars! Although frozen desserts have a long history with no official “created on” date, coffee ice cream made its mark in the 1800s. According to nationaldaycalendar.com, “In 1869, coffee ice cream was used in a parfait. One recipe appeared in a 1919 cookbook for an Egg Coffee, consisting of cream, crushed ice and coffee syrup.”
From this, we know that there are a lot of ways to make ice cream. Some require an ice cream maker, some are no-churn, some have eggs and some are vegan! We wanted to provide you with the most velvety and traditional way to make ice cream before delving into all the other ways to make it. Our classic coffee ice cream starts with a custard base, which produces less ice crystals during the freezing process. Corvus Coffee Roasters’ Dead Reckoning, Pablo’s Coffee’s Little Jem Espresso and Proyecto Diaz Coffee’s Mexico – Esencia are all great strong espresso blends that will stand up to the cream.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, separated
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful of chocolate covered espresso beans
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and ½ cup cream. Heat over low-medium heat until it is warm and steamy (you should never let it come to a boil). Once the mixture is warm, turn off the heat and cover, steeping the beans at room temperature for an hour.
Pour the remaining cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl of cream.
Back on the stove, reheat the coffee mixture over medium heat until hot but not boiling. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together to break them down. Pour ½ cup of the heated coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks do not cook. Once mixed, do this again with another ½ cup of the warm coffee mixture. Once fully combined, scrape this mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine with the rest of the warmed coffee cream.
Switching to a heatproof spatula, stir the custard mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. It should coat the spatula so that when you run your finger across it, it will leave a trail.
Back to the bowl of cream over ice, pour the warm custard through the strainer, stirring it into the cream. Discard them the coffee beans and mix in the vanilla, stirring over the ice bath until cool.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. Once completely cold, use your ice cream maker’s instructions to churn the ice cream. Most ice cream makers will take 20-40 minutes to churn. Your ice cream will not be completely hard but more of a soft-serve consistency.
Spoon the ice cream out from the machine into a loaf pan and use a spatula to flatten the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours or until completely frozen.
When you’re ready to serve, dip an ice cream scoop into warm water and scoop out as many portions of ice cream as you like. If desired, chop up some chocolate covered espresso beans to sprinkle on top, and enjoy.