In honor of the 77-degree high predicted for today (March 17! In Pittsburgh!), I figured it’s high time to break out the ice cream maker. And when I think of homemade ice cream, only one name comes to mind: David Lebovitz.
Surprised? Many of you may have thought I was going to say Jeni Britton, of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, who has reached ice cream notoriety in the past few years. And while I’ve made several of her ice creams (haven’t tried any of her packaged ice creams at the store, though), I keep coming back to Lebovitz’s recipes. Britton’s flavor combinations are so interesting and unique, right up my curious palate’s alley, but Lebovitz’s classic recipes are like summer comfort food for me.
Please don’t get me wrong; I love what Britton is doing, and honestly, comparing her recipes to Lebovitz’s is like comparing apples and oranges. (Britton’s ice cream is cornstarch based, resulting in a lighter, cleaner texture; Lebovitz’s are mostly custard based, giving you a richer, heavier mouth feel.) But some people like apples better than oranges, or vice versa. And that’s okay.
The recipe below is modified from Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop cookbook. I love how the recipe has you steep the coffee beans in the milk/cream base—there’s something beautiful about the look of the beans floating in the milk. I don’t usually take pictures of a recipe in progress, but I couldn’t resist this time.
Also, if you’re feeling especially Irish today with it being St. Patrick’s Day and all, may I make the suggestion to substitute a tablespoon of Irish whiskey for the vodka? Both are optional, they’re more to keep the ice cream from freezing too solidly than to add any flavor, but it would be fitting to have Irish coffee ice cream today.
Coffee Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups whole coffee beans
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
Warm the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt, and 1 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and steep at room temperature for an hour.
Reheat the mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, cooking until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard into the strainer and mix with the cream. Press on the beans in the strainer until you’ve extracted as much liquid as possible, then discard. Mix in the vanilla and vodka.
Chill mixture thoroughly and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.