ice cream scoop
Photo by James Ransom for Food52
Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Okay, so our last post was pretty heavy. It's important to talk about real issues in the coffee and agricultural world, but we don't want to be a downer. Let's talk about something fun: ice cream! The food-obsessed folks over at Food52 have posted a recipe for 4-ingredient coffee ice cream that requires no churning and no special ice cream maker. Yeah...they're the best.

The four ingredients are heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, coffee liqueur, and instant espresso powder. We have an idea though: why not swap out the instant espresso for real espresso? Take some Stumptown Hairbender (HubBub's house espresso) and grind it very finely until it's silky espresso dust. Kapow! The coffee flavor just got that much more awesome.

The brilliance of this recipe is that each ingredient acts as a short cut to the traditional, more labor and ingredient-heavy ice cream recipes out there. The cream's role is obvious, but the sweetened condensed milk gives the mix extra body (usually provided by egg yolks), as well as sugar. Sugar and fat are important not only for ice cream's flavor, but for texture as well. Have you ever tried to make an ice cream recipe and swap in 2% milk  for cream, or reduce the sugar by half? It simply doesn't work - the mix gets all gritty and icy and unpleasant. Commercial brands of ice cream make low-fat ice varieties smooth by adding a bunch of stabilizers, but who wants that?

The dry espresso and the espresso liqueur add the authentic coffee kick we expect from coffee ice cream, and the alcohol also acts as a natural stabilizing agent. Side note: remember when you were a kid, and even though hot coffee grossed you out, you like, LOVED coffee ice cream? And the smell of fresh ground coffee, too? Those were just little hints that you would grow up to be the coffee lover that you are today.

Anyway, check the full recipe for measurements and instructions. The technique is so easy: you put all four ingredients in a standing mixer, and mix until very soft peaks form, then freeze for 6+ hours and eat. This recipe is originally from Nigella Lawson, which is no surprise, since she's basically a cooking goddess. If you don't know Nigella, you should definitely become acquainted with at least some of her vast catalog of cook books.

While you're looking for a bottle of espresso liqueur for the ice cream recipe, may we recommend House Spirits Coffee Liqueur, made with Stumptown coffee? This craft distillery out of Portland, Oregon makes half a dozen spirits, including the flawless Aviation Gin, and not one but two types of Aquavit (a Scandinavian liqueur that's having a moment here in the U.S. - more here). Coffee liqueur is a bit of an obscure bottle to add to your home bar, so don't settle for mediocrity! As far as our cursory research shows, House Spirits products are only available for sale in Pennsylvania through the PLCB's website. We're determined to get our hands on a bottle, and once we do, expect lots of coffee cocktail recipe posts!

But for now, let's make some ice cream.