Sunday, January 30, 2011

arabic coffee ice cream

This ice-cream recipe is based on the traditional Middle-Eastern drink that combines ground coffee beans with whole cardamom pods. Cardamom is one of my all-time favorite spices. It's related to ginger, but instead of tasting spicy or bitter it has a smooth, subtle flavor and an overwhelming fragrance that carries you away to another time and place. Together with coffee and sugar, it creates a blissful bittersweet balance.

Certain Arabic coffee recipes incorporate other spices, including ginger, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and saffron, so feel free to experiment with the recipe below by adding whatever spices you fancy.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
11/4 cup coffee beans
20 to 25 whole cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

You will also need:
cheesecloth (to strain)
ice cream maker

Place coffee beans, whole coriander pods, and any other spices you wish to include in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place on a firm surface. Beat the contents of the bag into submission using a wooden spoon or other solid, forceful device. This is not only an effective method of quickly breaking the ingredients down into tiny pieces - it's also a wonderful way to relieve any aggression you might be experiencing.

Next, we want to infuse the milk with the coffee and spices. To do this, combine all ingredients in a medium pot over high heat. The beans and cardamom will create an intricate mosaic in the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and then immediately remove the pot from heat.

Let the pot sit, covered, for an hour. During this time, the milk will absorb the aroma and flavor of the coffee and spices.

After an hour, carefully strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a medium-sized bowl, separating the cardamom and coffee bits from the now-infused milk.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate the mixture for 2 hours.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions and serve to your sure-to-be grateful guests. My sister said the final taste reminded her of a macaron from Paris' exquisite sweet shop LadurĂ©e, so prepare to be delighted!

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