Recipe of the Week: Mocha Ice Cream

It’s been something of a long week at Casa Twistie. Things Happened. Many of them involved plumbing and random electrical equipment going awry. We have been a tidge grumpy about the scatter, including the cat who has been thrown out of the bedroom at night on no less than three occasions this week for playing soccer with his catnip mouse on my feet in the wee hours of the morning. The crust of me wanting to sleep!

In light of all that, I decided that I wanted to try a recipe for something that brings a little joy to my world even when Things Happen. What did I want?

Ice cream.

The thing is, most modern ice cream recipes assume that one has an ice cream maker. I do not possess one. Recipe after recipe informs me that in order to make my own ice cream, it’s as simple as putting together their combination of ingredients and following the manufacturer’s instructions. It became something of a point of very weird honor for me not to follow manufacturer’s instructions in making ice cream. Surely, I thought to myself as I sometimes do, there must be a way to do it sans ice cream making thingamajiggy. After all, Dolley Madison served ice cream at the White House when she was First Lady (or was it when she was acting as the widowed Thomas Jefferson’s official hostess?), and I don’t think they had ice cream makers, per se, back then.

Then I thought of something.

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but Mr. Twistie loves flea markets and garage sales. Sometimes he brings back things that would give Plummy the vapors, but once in a while he finds a true treasure for yours truly. A couple years ago, he found a huge stack of vintage cooking pamphlets and booklets that someone sold him for pretty much nothing. I pulled them out and found the timeless classic 250 Delectable Desserts, published in 1940. That’s right, 250 recipes for sweet things crammed into 48 pages, complete with dozens of black and white photos of some of the delights contained within.

It was within this slender volume that I found today’s recipe.

Mocha Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 Cups Milk

4 Tblsp ground coffee (next time I might use a slightly smaller amount of espresso powder instead for a deeper flavor and less grainy texture, as well as to skip a step that was a little messy)

1/3 Cup Corn Sirup (sic)

1/3 Cup sugar

2 Tblsp flour

1/8 tsp salt (call it a dash and be done with it)

2 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cup heavy cream, whipped.

Heat milk and coffee for 10 minutes in the top of a double boiler (or, if you don’t have one, just simmer some water in a saucepan and place another saucepan of similar size on top. Make sure the water doesn’t actually touch the bottom of the upper saucepan); strain through cheesecloth (Messy). Mix corn sirup (sic), sugar, flour and salt; add scalded coffee milk slowly stirring constantly. Return to double boiler stirring until it thickens (this took a surprisingly long time for me, but it might have something to do with the fact that my stove is rapidly reaching the end of its useful life and getting crochety…or it might have something to do with the fact that this is just the kind of thing that rarely works as well for me in the kitchen as it seems to for some other cooks, because we all have our weak spots); cook 5 minutes longer. Add hot milk mixture slowly to beaten egg yolks (be careful about doing this part slowly or you can accidentally wind up with bits of scrambled egg in your ice cream, which…not the taste treat of the century, or so I’m told) and cook 3 minutes longer. Chill (no, really, that’s all they said here so I guessed and stuck it in the fridge for about an hour, and it seemed to work) and add vanilla. Beat egg whites until stiff; whip cream and fold both into chilled mixture. Freeze in refrigerator tray (or, you know, your handy dandy freezer now that we have such things) until firm. Serves 6.

How did it come out? A little soft and fragile compared to commercial ice creams, a tiny touch grainy because while I made some exciting Jackson Pollock-esque patterns while pouring scalding coffee milk through cheesecloth, I also managed to let a few of the grounds I was trying to remove get through the cloth into my ice cream. Espresso powder for sure, next time. All the same, it was tasty, it had a good coffee flavor, and I would absolutely do this again.

I may not have an ice cream maker, but I’ll definitely be one as the weather heats up.

10 Responses to “Recipe of the Week: Mocha Ice Cream”

  1. Toby Wollin March 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    I have an ancient cookbook from my mom from the late 30s or 40s where the ice cream tool of coice was a metal ice cube tray (with the metal grid removed), where you poured in the mix you’d made and at certain points, you took the trays out of the freezer, chunked up the stuff into a bowl, whipped it like crazy and then put it back into the trays to freeze some more. I recall our doing this once when I was but a wee one and although it did not have the texture of commercial ice creams (and then again, it did not contain all the emulsifiers, etc. ), it was cold, tasty, creamy and yummy.

  2. Plumcake March 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    To prove to myself I do not like ice cream (I don’t.) I decided to MAKE some, and like you, was not in possession of an ice cream maker. So what did I do? I duct taped my Kitchen Aid in the freezer and set it on the lowest setting for about three hours. I’m not sure it was good for the machine (although it didn’t hurt it) but it made excellent ice cream.

  3. Twistie March 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    @ Toby Wollin: It really is a different consistency, isn’t it? It’s also yummy, which makes me happy.

    @ Plumcake: I’m sure the manufacturers wouldn’t recommend treating a Kitchen Aid that way, but those puppies will stand up to all kinds of abuse and keep right on going! If I could save one thing from the house as it was burning down, my Kitchen Aid would probably be it. Damn the family photos! I have baking to do! Of course, if I didn’t manage to save it I’m not certain I wouldn’t come back to find it was the one thing that survived on its own.

  4. jess March 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    From my camp counselor days, I can tell you that you can make ice cream in a bag (which requires a lot of shaking) or an ice cream ball. We used to play soccer with the ball whole the stuff froze.

  5. Leigh March 8, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    When we go on picnics or camping, we make ice cream in old coffee cans — one small, one large. Put the custard mixture in the small can, seal it tightly, place in the larger can, add ice, salt, and a small amount of water, seal the larger can, and roll it back and forth across the table. Stop about every 10-15 minutes to stir. (wipe the salt water off the small can before opening) It usually takes about 30 minutes, occasionally 45. I think it turns out much creamier than the ‘pour and freeze’ method. Great fun for a group.

    Alternatively, I learned last week that KitchenAid actually has an ‘ice cream maker’ attachment for its countertop mixer!

  6. Less March 8, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Roughing it is all very well, but you might also suggest that Mr. Twistie keep an eye out for an ice cream maker for you on his garage-saling sorties. Seems like the obvious solution to me anyway.

  7. Twistie March 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    @Jess: that sounds kind of fun!

    @ Leigh: That sounds like even more fun, what with the not running thing since I tend to fall down a lot when I run.

    And yes, I’ve heard about the ice cream maker attachment. It might be fun, but I think a second bowl is what I really need. Whipping egg whites, then cleaning out the bowl to whip cream was kind of annoying. Also I’m making two cakes (and the attendant frosting to go with) for a birthday party this week. Having an extra bowl would make a world of difference.

    @ Less: Ah, but that would take the challenge out of it. I am nothing if not fond of bizarre and pointless points of honor.

  8. La BellaDonna March 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Actually, Twistie, they DID have ice cream-makers! George Washington, who was technology-mad, was the first person in this country to actually own one – and the ice cream recipe that Dolley used most often had been sent to her by Thomas Jefferson, when he was in France.

    Email me if you want the recipe – I have it!

  9. Twistie March 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    @LBD: I ought to have been more specific, knowing that you read and comment frequently! I meant the kind they have now that work on electricity and freezers, which were not extant at the time. I did not, however, realize that General Washington was so technology mad, so I’ve definitely learned something new.

    As for that recipe, would you be willing to share with the class? I feel very sure I’m not the only one curious to know more about how ice cream was made once upon a time.

  10. La BellaDonna March 12, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    GW was definitely technology-mad; he devised a way to thresh his grain indoors that resulted in saving much of the grain that used to be lost, and he exported a very fine flour, which was in tremendous demand in Europe; and he also operated one of the biggest whiskey stills in the country (and Mount Vernon has, I believe, rebuilt the still).

    For you, Twistie, and the rest of the class:

    2 bottles of good cream
    6 yolks of eggs
    1/2 lb. of sugar
    Mix the yolks and sugar
    Put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of vanilla
    When near boiling take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs and sugar
    Stir it well
    Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it sticking to the casserole
    When near boiling take it off and strain it through a towel
    Put it in the sorbetiere
    Then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. Put into the ice a handful of salt
    Put ice all around the sorbetiere, a layer of ice, a layer of salt, for 3 layers
    Put salt on the coverlid of the sorbetiere and cover the whole with ice
    Leave it still half a quarter of an hour
    Then turn the sorbetiere in the ice 10 minutes
    Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the sorbetiere
    Open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides
    When well taken stir it well with the spatula
    Put it in moulds, jostling it well down on the knee
    Then put the mould into the same bucket of ice
    Leave it there to the moment of serving it.
    To withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, tossing it well until it will come out and
    Turn it into a plate and serve

    (The “sorbetiere” is your icecream-maker, but you knew that, right? Yeah, I knew you did.)