If I haven't made it abundantly clear yet, ice cream (and sorbet, and gelato...) is my favorite thing to make in the kitchen when it comes to sweets. The Vivid Kitchen has been live for about four months now, and out of the 20 or so posts I've written so far, this marks my fourth recipe dedicated to the frozen treat. Personally, I believe making ice cream is the most rewarding dessert: from making the custard (if the recipe calls for it) to the hours you have to wait for it to chill, to watching it churn in your ice cream maker... makes the finished product that much better.
On my Instagram account the other week, I asked my followers to partake in an Insta Story poll on which ice cream flavor they wanted me to make for the blog next. The options were either Mint Chocolate Chip or Coffee Toffee, with the former being a flavor I have made numerous times, while the latter I had not tried until this post. The poll results were very close, but Coffee Toffee just barely edged out Mint Chip. I was actually pretty satisfied with the results because I wanted to try something new, and I gotta say, I am thrilled with the outcome of today's recipe.
This ice cream recipe is custard-based so there will be the added element of tempering your eggs on the stove top while trying not to make scrambled eggs (yuck), as well as one more step that involves using actual whole coffee beans. At one point in the directions, you will be "steeping" coffee beans in the milk mixture for about an hour, almost as if you were making sun tea with teabags. It's an vital process in ensuring that the coffee flavor will be very pronounced.
When the custard is made and ready to chill before being transferred to your ice cream maker, the whole coffee beans actually will be taken out and discarded (according to the recipe from David Lebovitz, of course). But, instead of throwing away all of those coffee beans, I let them dry out for a couple of hours before blending them up in my Magic Bullet, or blender, and adding them to the churned ice cream. Not only did this step give the ice cream even more coffee flavor, but I think it made the ice cream look more appealing with its tiny specks of coffee throughout. This is an optional step, but I think it was well worth it.
Now, let's not forget the second part of the ice cream flavor we are featuring today: the toffee! When I thought of this cute rhyming ice cream flavor, I thought I was the only genius who had thought of this flavor combo, but alas, I was not (hello Ben & Jerry's). Regardless, the crunchy chocolate-covered toffee bits mixed in with the coffee base takes this ice cream to a whole different level of deliciousness. You can either use Heath or Skor bars (both available in your local grocery store).
Lastly, I don't know if any of you have been to Trader Joe's lately, but they recently started selling ice cream waffles cones! I've been wanting grocery stores to start selling them for years, but I've only ever been able to find the cheap-y (but still delicious) sugar cones. So now that my beloved Trader Joe's sells them, I couldn't be happier. The cones taste AMAZING and actually make the ice cream taste better, believe it or not. Please, go buy a couple of boxes now!
Side note: If caffeine for dessert aka before bedtime isn't your thing, you can absolutely buy a container of decaffeinated coffee beans instead. If you don't think you'll get use of the leftover decaffeinated beans, I would suggest buying exactly the amount the recipe calls for by getting the beans from the "bulk" section at your grocery store.
Coffee Toffee Ice Cream
Yields about 1 quart of ice cream
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup whole coffee beans, preferably dark-roasted
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground coffee OR espresso powder (I used the latter, since I always have this on hand for when I bake brownies)
8 oz. chocolate-covered toffee, chopped (Heath or Skor bars work perfectly)
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Once warmed up, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set a strainer over the top (use a bowl that will be able to fit over an ice bath for later).
After an hour, rewarm the mixture on the stove on medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Just as the coffee/milk mixture is beginning to simmer, gradually add some of it to the bowl of egg yolks, whisking constantly as to not scramble the eggs (this is called tempering). Once the egg yolk mixture temperature has raised, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spatula or spoon.
Pour the custard mixture over the strainer to separate the whole coffee beans. Press down on the beans to make sure you get all the liquid. Stir the custard in with the heavy cream that is already in the bowl. Add in the vanilla extract and ground coffee/instant espresso. Let the ice cream base sit over an ice bath for about an hour before moving to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Reserve about a 1/4 cup of the whole coffee beans that were left behind in the strainer and allow them to dry out on paper towels while the ice cream is chilling. Add them to a blender, and pulse until fine. Set aside.
Churn the ice cream in your maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. A couple of minutes before stopping the machine, sprinkle in 1-2 tablespoons of the finely ground coffee beans.
Transfer the finished ice cream into a bowl and stir in toffee bits. Freeze in an airtight container and enjoy, preferably in the Trader Joe's waffle cones!