Monday, March 14, 2011

Frozen Caffeine- Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib Brittle

I can never decide whether making ice cream is actually worth the effort when there are so many artisanal options that I can just buy at the local gourmet store- until I actually do make it and realize that it is not really that difficult, the ingredients are pure with no additives or stabilizers, and it is delicious.  Coffee and chocolate are one of my most favorite flavor combinations, and this ice cream incorporates them both. It has a very strong coffee flavor with a sweet crunch from the Cocoa Nib Brittle.  Too bad you can't just wake up and have coffee ice cream to jolt yourself into the day- although on occasion, it would probably be ok.

Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib Brittle
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Cocoa Nib Brittle
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 grams) water
1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa nibs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of kosher salt

Coffee Ice Cream
1 1/3 cups (320 grams) heavy cream
2 cups (480 grams) whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/3 cup (35 grams) ground French or other dark roast coffee
8 egg yolks
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

To make the brittle: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat the paper liberally with nonstick cooking spray or butter.  Place the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan and slowly pour in the water.  Stir gently to moisten the sugar. If any sugar crystals are clinging to the sides of the pan, brush them down with a pastry brush dipped n water.  Place the saucepan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the mixture comes to a boil.  Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar starts to color and turn light brown, about 3-5 minutes.  When you see color in the pan, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly.  Add the cocoa nibs and swirl them around in the caramel until the caramel turns medium amber-brown. (it may foam when you add the nibs- this is normal and will subside once you swirl the pan a few seconds) As soon as the caramel is amber-brown, immediately remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and salt.  Quickly pour the brittle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and tilt the sheet back and forth to spread the brittle in a thin, even layer.  Let cool for 30-40 minutes.  Place about 2/3 of the cooled brittle into a plastic bag or between 2 sheets or parchment paper and press a rolling pin up and down on the bag.  Set aside the smashed bits to mix into the ice cream and reserve the remaining brittle to use as a garnish for the ice cream.

To make the ice cream: In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Use the tip of a knife to scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean directly into the pan and add the pod as well.  Then add the ground coffee. Scald the cream over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the liquid is not boiling).  Remove from the heat and let steep for 1 hour.
     In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, and then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Return the cream mixture to medium-high heat and scald again. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly.  When all of the hot cream mixture has been incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan and place the saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for 608 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The mixture will seem watery at first, then it will start to steam and then it will begin to get thicker.  Remove from the heat and immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into an airtight container. Whisk in the salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or cold or overnight.  Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  When the ice cream is finished churning, mix in the crushed brittle by hand and freeze for at least 2 hours to allow the ice cream to ripen. When serving, garnish with the reserved brittle.  ((post by Susan))