Ogni promessa è debito, we say in Italian (promise is debt). In a recent post, I promised I would talk about how I make gelato al caffè and here I will keep my promise. The gelato al caffè I make was inspired by the Espresso Coffee Ice Cream presented in the book Frozen Desserts by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir. Here is the list of ingredients I use:
- half a cup of coffee beans (Italian or espresso roast — more on this later)
- 1.5 cups non-fat milk
- 1 cup good quality heavy whipping cream, possibly organic
- two whole eggs and one egg yolk (pastured and fresh)
- half a cup of granulated sugar
I prepare the coffee, milk and cream mixture as directed in the recipe referenced. I beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar in a regular bowl, since I don't use a double-boiler to heat the custard, but a saucepan placed on a small burner at low heat. I don't measure the temperature, and rely on the spoon method and my undivided attention to remove the custard from the heat at the correct time. The cold water bath and thorough chilling are normal practices in ice cream preparation.
If you have an ice cream maker like mine, whose freezing cylinder must be thoroughly frozen before use, you need to make sure the cylinder is cold enough to make a product like what you see in the photo. I keep mine always in the freezer, because I use it often, but that by itself is not sufficient. To give you an example, if I kept my freezer at level 4 (which is the default temperature level), the ice cream would not get to the right consistency. I keep my freezer at a lower temperature (level 5) and I get what you see in the photo. I serve my gelato as it comes out of the machine, without delay, and freeze what is left over. It is a good idea to label the container with the type of gelato or sorbetto (sorbet) it contains and the production date, for reference.
The recipe directs you to start with coffee beans (chicchi di caffè) and rightly so. Beans should be bought freshly roasted, and ground as needed. Think about the set up of an espresso machine in a coffee shop: the coffee grinder (macinacaffè) is operated as needed to provide ground coffee (caffè macinato) to make espresso drinks. Also, good quality beans will give you a good ice cream. My husband used to buy green coffee beans and roast them in small batches. Currently, we buy roasted coffee (caffè tostato) from this store in Oakland. This page has an interesting pictorial guide to the roasting process. You may also be interested in a note about storing roasted coffee.
Back to gelato al caffè, it is one of the most popular flavors (gusti) among the ones I make. Even people who say that they don't usually drink coffee like this gelato. I realize that tea drinkers of the world may feel neglected. Not to worry, I also make green tea ice cream, but you'll have to exercise some patience, since this is a story for another day.
In the meantime, for the department of unrelated photos, I am offering you a little rainbow (arcobaleno).
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the gelato al caffè audio file [mp3].