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paulraphael

Coffee Ice Cream

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Over the last many months coffee ice cream has been my nut to crack—how to get the full, three-dimensional, layered flavors and aromas of coffee to blast through the dairy and sugar. Make it taste like a great macchiato, not a wimpy café au lait, or some terrible Starbucks concoction. 

 

I tried every coffee extraction method I could imagine before settling on one that resembles the Japanese iced coffee method. Really it's a cross between this method, French press pot, and sous-vide. The idea is to infuse the coffee grounds into hot milk and cream inside a sealed bag (I use ziploc gallon freezon bags, as I do for sous-vide). Agitate the grounds and dairy in the bag at the right temperature for the right amount of time, and then plunge into icewater. bring the slurry down to room temperature before unsealing the bag and straining. This keeps the aromatics in, mostly. 

 

Dairy and sugar tend to mute both the acids and aromatics that make great coffee come to life. So part of the goal is to get as much of them into the ice cream as possible, and hold on to them. 

 

Even with this method, I find the acids are a bit muted, and the bitterness is a bit out of balance, so I adjust the seasoning with a bit of extra salt, and with an addition of Pedro Ximinex sherry vinegar, whose woody, fruity, sweet-savory flavors complement coffee wonderfully.

 

I also use a base that's only 10% milk fat. Higher fat mutes the coffee too much. 

 

This method is a bit more work than most, but I think it's worth it. Details here.

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Posted (edited)

Considering all the "fun stuff" you use in making coffee ice cream, have you ever experimented with something as simplistic as Medaglia d'Oro instant coffee as a flavor booster?

 

Or a coffee liqueur?

 

With all due respect, you understand, all these steps necessary in preparing what must be delicious coffee ice cream (my fave) wold send me rushing to the nearest ice cream shoppe for a pint of their's! Or Il Lab...


Edited by weinoo (log)

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I haven't used instant coffee, because even the best instant coffees are mostly devoid of fruity / acidic flavors from the bean, and they're utterly devoid of aromatics. So they're a big step in the opposite direction of what I'm going for. To me the best instant tastes a lot like cold brew. 

 

I don't get much flavor out of coffee liqueur, either. Not sure why; I'd think alcohol would be a good solvent for the acids and aromatics. But I mostly get the basic midrange coffee and tosted notes from alcohol-based infusions. I've made my own coffee liqueur, and like it more than the usual suspects, but it's not exactly an explosion of flavor.

 

I like Il Lab also. I can't remember their coffee flavor. The closest I've had to my recipe is from Morgenstern's ... have you been there? 

 

But seriously, Mitch. I didn't think you'd give up so easily.

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In another thread I mentioned that I make coffee ice cream with the Agrimontana coffee paste  

I make up a base of 2/3rd coffee paste, and the other third is a blend of black cocoa and Illy espresso powder.  

The coffee paste is not pure coffee but the addition of hazelnuts and sugar enhances the coffee flavor, as does the black cocoa and the espresso powder.  I make up this base in larger batches than I will need for one batch of ice cream and measure out 200 gms. for 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream, I blend this mixture into a base of 10 ounces of heavy cream, bring just to a very slow simmer and cook for about 8-10 minutes, tasting and adding Non-high fructose corn syrup, which adds creaminess to the finished ice cream and allows for longer churning - slows the development of ice crystals.  I use half & half for the rest of the dairy.

Occasionally I make a custard base and add the heavy cream/flavoring mix, after cooling it so the eggs won't be affected by the heat.  

I bought a kg of the paste and it took me almost a year to use it up.

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Simpleton's question: would a bit of chocolate work? Everyone always mentions adding a bit of coffee to chocolate in order to "enhance" the chocolate flavor. (I do not do this, BTW, I think it makes good chocolate taste like good mocha.) Just wondering if a tiny bit of good cocoa would do anything for the coffee flavor. (Besides make it taste like good mocha.)

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A little chocolate should help. (as a coffee-hater, I have never made this flavor of ice cream)  The issues with coffee flavored ice cream are the brix and the fat content. You are trying to add a watery (relatively) drink to a mixture which is best at certain sugar and fat levels. Chocolate adds a bit of fat (all-chocolate ice cream is a balancing act, too much chocolate and the ice cream is too hard), which the coffee is lacking, and should help the texture. Flavor-wise, I suspect the results will be variable to type and brands, and personal preference.

 

Making coffee and then dehydrating it may also be something to look into.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, paulraphael said:

I like Il Lab also. I can't remember their coffee flavor. The closest I've had to my recipe is from Morgenstern's ... have you been there? 

 

But seriously, Mitch. I didn't think you'd give up so easily.

Yes, been to Morgenstern's and like their stuff.  Il Lab has an espresso flavor that I like as well.

 

I gave up on a lot of stuff where I find the purchased product is practically as good, if not better than my own, and because it's just so much easier!

 

Bread is another one - though I'll still work on flatbreads, but I can buy awesome bread at Maison Kayser, Balthazar Bakery, Pain D'Avignon, Hot Bread Bakery, etc. etc, 


Edited by weinoo (log)

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Posted (edited)

I don't have experience making ice cream, but my 2 cent: The only really good coffee ice cream I had was one in which the coffee was mostly concentrated in a swirl. In a homogeneous ice cream, it's really hard to get a the full aroma, as it will always be too diluted (a sorbet might work better). The swirl allows short periods of full coffee flavor, with the base sort of cleaning the palate from it.


Edited by shain (log)
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I'm not sure why you'd make coffee with water and add it to ice cream mix, other than a bit of economy (you won't be forced to throw out the milk/cream that gets retained by the grounds). If you do use water to extract the coffee, you can just hold back an equal amount of milk, and add nonfat dry milk to make up for the lost solids. Basically you're making coffee milk out of your coffee extract plus dry milk.

 

All this stuff like adding cocoa powder sounds like attempts at compensating for inadequate coffee flavor. I think if you use enough coffee (good quality coffee) and infuse it the way I describe, this won't be a problem anymore. 

 

The downside to this method is expense. Good coffee costs around $20/lb these days. Also it's a fair amount of work. But honestly, if I'm going to make ice cream rather than just buy it, it's going to be so I can make better ice cream than what I can buy. This is much, much, much better than what I can buy. 

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8 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

All this stuff like adding cocoa powder sounds like attempts at compensating for inadequate coffee flavor. 

Yes, of course. But isn't that where you started in your original post? You were talking about how to achieve a stronger coffee flavor. Your way may be "better," but you're doing the same thing - compensating for inadequate coffee flavor. 

 

"I adjust the seasoning with a bit of extra salt, and with an addition of Pedro Ximinex sherry vinegar, whose woody, fruity, sweet-savory flavors complement coffee wonderfully."

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If you have never tried black cocoa - unsweetened - it has much more than just chocolate flavor.  The coffee flavor of the Agrimontana taste is intense, like superior espresso and the addition of the black cocoa makes it more so.  

I got my recipe from a friend's brother who was an Italian gelato expert, who at the time (1980s), worked at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A.  He gave me the name of a commercial supplier of flavor bases and even called to "introduce" me so I could buy there for my catering business.  

He took me through the recipe, step by step. (Also several other gelato recipes using various fruits and spices.)

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I haven't tried either of these products. I take you're word for it that they are excellent, but don't see how a commercial coffee paste is going to be able to equal the flavors of the best coffee beans extracted (optimally) directly into the dairy, with a method that lets you hang on to most of the aromatics. Coffee is a perishable product. Once it's roasted those aromatic compounds start to oxidize, break down, and fly away. 
 

I'm not opposed to adding things to enhance flavors. But I'll do it if there's some structural or chemical reason that makes it necessary. I adjust the flavors with sherry vinegar, because I don't know how to keep the dairy and sugar from muting the acidic and fruity flavors, even when I do everything possible to extract those flavors. And I add salt, because even the most balanced method I've found extracts a bit too much bitterness. I don't know what I'd be trying to accomplish with black cocoa. 

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Posted (edited)

Oh, I understand why andie wrote what she wrote when she writ "??."

 

But - I have another idea.  Why not make some great coffee (to drink), make some great vanilla ice cream, and enjoy them together!


Edited by weinoo (log)
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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

But - I have another idea.  Why not make some great coffee (to drink), make some great vanilla ice cream, and enjoy them together!

 

 

Because I spent a year figuring out how to make awesome coffee ice cream and I'm going to enjoy it, damn it. Even if it kills me.

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Lemme ask a silly question...

 

Did you try any coffee beans from Lavazza or Tazza d'Oro or Illy or etc. etc. - roasted for what is used to make classic Italian espresso; of course, it's barely drinkable, but I'm wondering if it might give you more of that coffee flavor you're looking for in your ice cream?

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Posted (edited)

im not trying to be flippant 

 

but

 

start with the best roast you can find.

 

and the best is what you roast at home.

 

get it on the dark side

 

and make real espresso :  extract at 9 bar.

 

use that and use more finely ground coffee than you might for a perfect espresso.

 

baring that

 

find a place near you that makes the Real Deal Espresso.

 

that won't be Starbucks , nor Peets.

 

extracting at 9 bar @ 205 F  is very different that at 1 bar @ 212  

 

or however hot you milk/cream gets.


Edited by rotuts (log)

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By the way, have you tried making Pedro Ximinex sherry ice cream yet?

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An interesting approach for sure, may have to give it a shot. Though I'm not entirely sure I'm willing to mail order the suggested vinegar, so we'll see. One question, just out of curiosity. Do you think the egg yolk is causing any of the problems you were trying to solve? I'm guessing not since you have this much time invested in creating the recipe, I'm sure you would have investigated that by now. I just find that in some ice creams, egg is not my friend. And not just because it tends to mute some flavors, sometimes the egg flavor, even in smallish amounts, is just plain combative with the flavor I'm trying to achieve.

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2 minutes ago, rotuts said:

im not trying to be flippant 

 

but

 

start with the best roast you can find.

 

and the best is what you roast at home.

 

get it on the dark side

 

and make real espresso :  extract at 9 bar.

 

use that and use more finely ground coffee than you might for a perfect espresso.

 

baring that

 

find a place near you that makes the Real Deal Espresso.

 

that won't be Starbucks , nor Peets.

 

extracting at 9 bar @ 205 F  is very different that at 1 bar @ 212  

 

or however hot you milk/cream gets.

 


I'm going to have to agree with paulraphael on that one. I've not found many cases, if any, where introducing large amounts of water to an ice cream recipe is beneficial. It just leads to having to do all kinds of other things to compensate that generally overshadow whatever you gained by doing a water extraction. 

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1 minute ago, weinoo said:

Lemme ask a silly question...

 

Did you try any coffee beans from Lavazza or Tazza d'Oro or Illy or etc. etc. - roasted for what is used to make classic Italian espresso; of course, it's barely drinkable, but I'm wondering if it might give you more of that coffee flavor you're looking for in your ice cream?

 

I'm not at all a fan of dark-roasted coffee, either for drinking or for ice cream, although I find it more tolerable in ice cream.. My post goes on a long diatribe against them. Darker roasts demolish the aromatics and the acids (which I'm trying to emphasize) and pile on bitter notes (which I'm trying to control). I've had the best luck with the medium-light roasts favored by most of the 3rd wave roasters these days. I use East African varieties, mostly because that's what I like to drink and so I have them around. I can't say that in a blind test I'd be able tell the difference between a such-and-such estate Ethiopian coffee and a similar roast from Panama.

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6 minutes ago, rotuts said:

im not trying to be flippant 

 

but

 

start with the best roast you can find.

 

and the best is what you roast at home.

 

get it on the dark side

 

and make real espresso :  extract at 9 bar.

 

use that and use more finely ground coffee than you might for a perfect espresso.

 

baring that

 

find a place near you that makes the Real Deal Espresso.

 

that won't be Starbucks , nor Peets.

 

extracting at 9 bar @ 205 F  is very different that at 1 bar @ 212  

 

or however hot you milk/cream gets.

 

 

This is definitely something I would have experimented with, but it requires an espresso machine. The only espresso machines I'd let into my house are outside my budget for now, and possibly ever. And I'm not interested in racing home with 10 ristrettos to go ...

 

 

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10 minutes ago, weinoo said:

By the way, have you tried making Pedro Ximinex sherry ice cream yet?

 

Not yet, but I'm dying to try it. Have draft 1 of a recipe ready to go. I'd be happy to bathe in the stuff.

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9 minutes ago, Tri2Cook said:

An interesting approach for sure, may have to give it a shot. Though I'm not entirely sure I'm willing to mail order the suggested vinegar, so we'll see. One question, just out of curiosity. Do you think the egg yolk is causing any of the problems you were trying to solve? I'm guessing not since you have this much time invested in creating the recipe, I'm sure you would have investigated that by now. I just find that in some ice creams, egg is not my friend. And not just because it tends to mute some flavors, sometimes the egg flavor, even in smallish amounts, is just plain combative with the flavor I'm trying to achieve.

 

You could use a different sherry vinegar, or even a balsamic. Some people might prefer to leave it out entirely. I wanted to bring out the fruit and acid flavors of the coffee, but my neighbor (a Café Bustello man) doesn't like those flavors. He doesn't like my favorite café, doesn't like my coffee, doesn't like my coffee ice cream. I'm pushing that PX vinegar on everyone partly because it will make the world a better place. 

 

I agree with all your thoughts on eggs. It's why I only use two yolks per liter. For some flavors (like chocolate) I leave them out entirely, and use alternate emulsifiers. That said, I didn't experiment with an eggless version of this, because I pushed it so far in the direction of low fat to begin with. Chocolate brings so much fat of its own so is a different story.

 

If someone else wants to play around with eggless versions I'd love to taste the results, but right now I'm quite happy with both flavor and texture and so don't feel the need to start over.

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