Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Coffee Ice Cream Conundrum

It's happened. Failure.

Yesterday I decided that it was time to expand my ice cream to bigger batches, and to start giving out free samples to local Maine Twitter folk, friends, and family in order to get feedback on my products. I chose coffee ice cream as my public debut, which was probably the stupidest idea I ever could have had. My friend Renee had given me a recipe for an amazing coffee ice cream that she had made at work, and I was pretty excited to make my own version of her masterpiece.

I started off with a daring 1 1/2 quarts of half and half. As I waited for it to simmer, I whipped 18 egg yolks in a bowl with 2 1/2 c. sugar. Using Jake's French press, I brewed two cups of dark roast coffee. After tempering my cream into the yolks, I added the coffee and gave it a taste. Huh. Pretty much tasted like heavily sweetened coffee. No problem...must not be enough. I brewed two more cups. Flavor stayed the same.

"Oh crap," I thought to myself as my stomach churned. I nervously called Renee..."So uh...when you told me to add coffee to the milk...did you uhh...did you mean brewed coffee?" (insert me squinting and crossing my fingers, hoping against hope she'd say "yes.") "No, I meant coffee grounds." Poop. This meant that I now had a quart of water in my ice cream base, which would cause a major tear in the chemistry of the final product. Would it spin properly? Would it freeze alright? I knew the answers were both "no" but how could I possibly justify throwing away one gallon of liquid? I tried adding coffee grounds to the base for more flavor, making the mistake of not putting them in cheesecloth or another helpful steeping assistant. I then tried to cook the base in a double boiler to allow the water to evaporate. Fail. Fail. Fail. AND! On top of that, the base separated in my ice cream maker, making it evident that I had no chance at redemption.

So in the future...never put water in your ice cream. Never add coffee grounds if you have no way to strain them out. And never, EVER, make bulk batches of something you've never made before.

Class dismissed.

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