Every kitchen has a rhythm — where the drawers are, which way the cabinets open, how you move between the refrigerator and the counter, transporting ingredients gathered swiftly and with intention. It’s steady. Calming.
Every new recipe is a challenge to that rhythm. In the learning phase there are fumbles, missteps, extra trips to the pantry, hip bruises from drawers left open and motivation to conquer the unfamiliar and make it part of your flow.
Ice cream making has been challenging my flow for quite a while. I tried David Lebovitz’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe 3 years ago and failed miserably. I was the epitome of awkward in my tiny Long Island kitchen — newlywed, surrounded by fancy cooking gadgets from our registry with a husband at work and a little electric stove all to myself. Despite my lack of experience, I dreamt of entertaining dozens of people in our 2nd floor apartment. My big plans included homemade ice cream that would knock everyone’s socks off. I described in an earlier post how that all turned out…who knew ice cream could turn into scrambled eggs?
When I decided recently that I was going to revisit custard-based ice cream, all of the awkwardness came rushing back full force. But I was determined.
I don’t know what changed between then and now, but this attempt went off without a hitch (minus a few bruises)! I started with the vanilla ice cream recipe from 3 years ago, and when that worked, [confidence renewed] I decided to go for something a little more advanced with the addition of fresh coffee beans (FreshGround Roasting) and vanilla Greek yogurt (Chobani). The result was phenomenal. The nutty coffee flavor mingles so perfectly with the subtly sweet tang of the yogurt, and coffee + vanilla will always be a perfect pair.
I can sense that my next go with homemade ice cream will be smoother than ever. I’ll swoop to the stove with a saucepan full of cream, ready to heat up a scraped vanilla bean with a pile of fragrant coffee beans. I’ll use my hour of steeping time to wipe down the counters and clean my sticky tools. Then it’s back to the stove to beat the egg yolks and slowly whisk them into a sweet, coffee-rich custard. After that, I’ll skip to the counter where an ice bath will be waiting to finalize the ice cream base before it goes to the fridge for a chill, and then to the ice cream maker. It will end in a graceful half-turn to the freezer, and a delicious grand finale of coffee mugs piled high with perfect scoops of homemade coffee ice cream.
Do you find a comfortable and relaxing groove in the kitchen? Are there any recipes you’ve been intimidated by that you’re thinking of trying again? What about some recipes you know so well you can practically do them in your sleep? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below!
Vanilla Bean Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart (220 calories per 1/2 cup serving)
*Note: this is a perfect way to use up the leftover egg yolks from the Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes recipe I shared recently!
1 1/2 cups low fat half & half
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup whole coffee beans (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from FreshGround Roasting)
pinch of salt
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup fat free vanilla Greek yogurt (Chobani)
5-7 large egg yolks (the more yolks you use, the richer your custard base will be)
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp finely ground coffee (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from FreshGround Roasting)
Blend coconut milk and yogurt together in a blender until smooth.
Pour half & half and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk/yogurt mixture into a saucepan with the sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean (with seeds scraped out and also added to the pan), coffee beans and salt. Heat until very warm (steaming), but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk/yogurt mixture into a medium bowl, and place it inside a larger bowl filled halfway with ice and water. Put a mesh strainer over the medium bowl and set aside.
Once the half & half/coffee mixture is done steeping, reheat it until very warm. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together and slowly pour some of the heated half & half/coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg blends smoothly with the cream without cooking. Scrape this mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the coffee cream.
Stir constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Pour the hot mixture through the strainer into the coconut milk/yogurt bowl. Press the coffee beans into the strainer to extract as much flavor as you can, and then discard the remaining beans along with the vanilla bean. Stir in the vanilla extract and the finely ground coffee until cool.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Pour your ice cream into a sealable container, lightly press plastic wrap on the surface, seal and store in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.