This recipe for Vietnamese coffee ice cream is based on one by David Lebovitz in The Perfect Scoop. What a fantastic idea for a coffee ice cream!
Here is David’s original ingredients list:
1.5 cups (600 g) sweetened condensed milk
1.5 cups (375 ml) brewed espresso or very dark coffee
.5 cup (125 ml) half and half
Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee
Here are the ingredients for my version:
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
.5 cup of espresso or dark coffee
1 cup heavy cream
1¼ cups whole milk
Big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee
Both recipes make around a quart of ice cream. So which one should you make? In a word David’s is more intense and much sweeter. Mine is less sweet, still strongly coffee flavored and is easier to scoop after a night in the freezer. A big trade off between the two is fat for sugar. David’s tastes more like real Vietnamese coffee. Of course I hope you play more with these proportions on your own and let me know about it below in the comments.
Cardamom has been one of my favorite spices lately and I have been trying it in all kinds of foods. I decided it would be fun to use it as a strong second flavor in a chocolate ice cream. Then I remembered a fantastic chocolate chip cookie I ate at a little coffee shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn last year. It not only contained cardamom but also some chili pepper which gave it some heat The combination worked beautifully.
My recipe is based on Jeni Bauer’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World. In addition to freshly ground cardamom seed, I added ground chipotle pepper which adds a smoky heat to the flavor. The major change to the recipe, besides the additional spices, is that I don’t add any sugar to the chocolate syrup, so in my version it is more of a ganache. Also the original recipe has a full cup of sugar in it, mine only a half cup.
Pour the mix into your ice cream maker. It is easiest to cut off a corner of the bag and pour it from there rather than through the top.
Freeze as per manufacturers instructions.
Harden the Ice Cream
Scoop ice cream into the pre-chilled storage container/s.
Press down a piece of cling film over the ice cream to remove any air (optional).
Seal and store in your freezer for at least a few hours before serving.
Notes and Variations
I am pleased to report that my girlfriend and primary customer, was blown away by this ice cream when made as recorded in the recipe. Never one to leave well enough alone however, these are some of things I will probably experiment with next time.
I think I will try cutting back the spice amounts to 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. I would like to get the slight burn left by the pepper in the finish down a little. Also though I like the very strong cardamom flavor, but I’m curious about what will happen with the balance tipped more towards the chocolate and coffee.
I’m tempted to add some finely grated chocolate, maybe 1/4 cup, into the mix towards the end of churning.
I purposely did not strain out the crushed cardamom seeds before chilling because I wanted that occasional blast of spice. You may not want this.
Using 1/2 cup of sugar rather than the called for 1 cup did not noticeably hurt the texture of the ice cream and resulted in just the right amount of sweetness to my taste.
Now that I have made this a few times, here are some more notes.
As I am currently making it, this is a drastically dense, dark chocolate ice cream. It is more an Ice Fudge than an Ice Cream.
I have cut the spices back to what I suggested above 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black cardamom seeds and 1/8 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper. Additionally I am using (from Whole Foods) Organic Valley cream cheese, milk and heavy cream, and Dagoba unsweetened chocolate for baking. Cocoa powder is Penzey’s Spices Natural High Fat Cocoa.
Now for the bad part. As I have currently laid out the steps, this is without a doubt the messiest ice cream recipe I have yet to make. Your kitchen will look like a chocolate bomb went off in it. The chocolate sauce is very, very thick and combining it with the dairy mix is not pretty. The resulting combined mix is like a very thick pudding that does not want to go into or come out the pre-chilling Ziploc bag willingly. Lastly it since it is so rich in fats, clean up takes lots of soap and water.
I am going to try a few things differently next time. First I’m not going to make a separate chocolate sauce. After cooking and thickening the dairy/cornstarch mix I am going to add the chocolate sauce ingredients directly to it, one at a time and gradually incorporate them over a very low heat. I will add the cream cheese, then the baking chocolate, then the cocoa.
I think Im going to either add more milk or use 2%. Not that the current fudginess isnt interesting or tasty, but it is a bit to much of a good thing. If you want to serve something that is sure to get a reaction from your friends, make it as is.
For this one recipe I am not going to use a Ziploc bag for prechilling. Either I will put the pot right into the Ice bath directly or use flat rectangular Pyrex dish, not sure yet. I think given how much heat this thick mix retains it is important to pre-chill it. On the other hand there is so much fat in it, maybe it isn’t needed at all. With a compressor ice cream maker it might make the most sense to just let it cool down on off the stove for 10 minutes and then go right into your machine.
I love sweetened condensed milk. It is saturated fat, sugar and god knows what else. Sneak it into coffee, cereal, ice tea, oatmeal and anything you would use milk in. You won’t be disappointed. This was the recipe that introduced me to the idea of using it in ice cream. And after experimenting continuously since first making it, I think using condensed milk as the foundation of an ice cream base is the best use of all. In addition to adding a bit of a caramel taste and probably all the sugar you need in most recipes, it performs magic on the resulting texture. You end up with a smoothness, gloss and density that is very similar to very eggy gelato.
This ice cream on Seven Spoons is a great take on what I am talking about, and takes an already delicious recipe over the top by adding crumbled cookies and a very liberal drizzle of a coffee laced caramel.
So this is quite a claim is it not? Cenk, the food blogger behind Cafe Fernando is a big time, serious, foodie chocoholic. So don’t take his boast lightly. When you visit his website you will be impressed.
Some interesting things about this recipe:
It uses a sweetened condensed milk base, which the more I experiment with, the more I am thinking of as a completely seperate category of true ice creams. The textural qualities it creates are unique.
No additional sugar is used so all the sweetness comes from the condensed milk.
This should be obvious, but you will want to use the highest quality bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder you can.
You don’t need an ice cream maker to make this ice cream! However by all means use your machine if you want to serve it more quickly.
I don’t know about it being THE BEST, but the reward for effort ratio is very high. It is a simple recipe that results in great ice cream.
As Cenk points our do not use more than 2 tablespoons of American corn starch which is different in action from the Turkish version he used.