Saturday, March 17, 2007

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

I've been on a cupcake-and-ice-cream kick lately. OK, not lately. Just forever. So after churning a
gorgeously rosy ice cream flavored with my favorite beer, Lindeman's Framboise, I Googled furiously for another recipe to try. This Vietnamese Coffee ice cream sounded promising. I skipped the sauce and nuts 'cause it seemed like overkill, I hate frying and hey, I was making this on a weeknight after work.

So after a trip to Hong Kong Market for Trung Nguyen coffee and a stroll down the bulk-bin aisles of
Central Market (where I spend waaay too much money) for exactly 2 ounces of espresso-roast coffee beans, I was ready to start. The recipe worked well except I had to strain the espresso bean-infused mixture many more times than it said to, with both a sieve and several layers of cheese cloth. Perhaps I had just overzealously cracked my espresso beans with the roller. It was therapeutic and fun!

The result was lovely and -- not surprisingly -- very rich, with a distinct coffee flavor balanced by the creamy sweetness of the condensed milk. (Oh, how I love condensed milk! It's great drizzled on Maeda-En's not-too-sweet green tea ice cream.)

Vietnamese coffee ice cream:

2/3 cup (~ 2 ounces) espresso-roast coffee beans
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
one 14-ounce can condensed milk
1/2 cup brewed Trung Nguyen coffee
8 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Seal coffee beans in a Ziploc bag. Use a rolling pin to lightly crush beans (do not grind!).

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the crushed beans, milk, cream and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to just under a boil over medium heat.

Remove the pan from heat, cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the infusion through a cheese cloth-lined fine sieve into a large bowl. Rinse out the saucepan and return the milk-cream mixture to the saucepan. Add the brewed coffee. Bring to just under a boil over medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the yolks and salt until blended.

Whisking constantly, gradually add about half the hot milk-cream mixture to the yolks, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.

Immediately strain the custard through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to develop.

Pour the chilled custard into the container of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Scrape ice cream into a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze.

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