I appear to be caught in a bit of a coffee paradox. I don’t drink coffee… ever. The few times in my life that I have mistakenly drunk a few drops have left me with an impression that most of America is addicted to a beverage that is impossibly bitter at best and patently undrinkable at worst. And yet… I love coffee ice cream. I find that the extreme bitterness of the drink is mellowed with the addition of lots of cream and sugar. Instead of putting a dash of cream in my big pot of coffee, I prefer to put a dash of coffee in my big pot of cream. In the humble opinion of this non-coffee drinker, coffee ice cream allows for the actual flavor of the coffee bean to show through – it is, in fact, how the coffee bean should be enjoyed.
So when I was flipping through my brand new big yellow Gourmet cookbook, I noticed the recipe for Cappuccino Gelato. While my trusty ice cream maker has been put to use in the service of many of my favorite frozen flavors, it has yet to tackle coffee. The Gourmet recipe was simple – since I was making a gelato, a milk-based Italian version of ice cream, I wouldn’t have to worry about tempering (and perhaps scrambling) any eggs. The recipe used corn starch to thicken the base and provide it with an an almost custard texture.
The only modifications I made to the recipe were the addition of a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of almond extract. They helped round out the flavor of the coffee and paired very well with the milkiness of the final product. I only offer one warning – the cappuccino gelato is a tempting confection. It will call for you to scarf it down way past the hour when one should be eating caffeinated anything. So if you’re not used to caffeine, resist the urge in the evening hours or you’ll find yourself bouncing off the walls and unable to sleep well into the night. Not that this happened to anyone I know…
Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 T. instant espresso powder
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 T. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. vanilla (optional)
1 t. almond extract (optional)
Whisk 1/4 cup of milk into espresso powder in a small bowl, whisking until powder is dissolved. Stir 1/4 cup of milk into cornstarch in another small bowl, stirring until cornstarch is dissolved.
Combine sugar, salt and remaining 2 cups of milk in a 3 quart heavy saucepan and bring to just a boil over moderately high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir cornstarch mixture again, then whisk into milk mixture and simmer, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisk in espresso mixture. ( I added the vanilla and almond extract here.)
Transfer mixture to a metal bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally , then cover surface with a round of wax paper and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.