You guys. This ice cream. I can’t even. But I will, so let’s dive in.
Cold brew coffee is big right now. I had my first cold brew at Blue Bottle in San Francisco a few years ago, and I loved every drop of it. The idea behind the cold brew process is that the ground beans sit in cold water for a longer period of time until the flavors leach out into the water. The resulting cold brew coffee has a sweeter, more complex taste, because heat was not used to extract flavor. I recently learned that you can apply a similar technique to the ice cream making process. I’ve tested this technique, and I’m here to report that it’s pretty freakin’ incredible. Continue reading for the ice cream recipe.
This recipe for Cold Steeped Vanilla Bean Mezcal Ice Cream starts with an egg-thickened custard base made with heavy cream, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, buttermilk, sugar and salt. The base is cooked over heat, and the chilled in an ice bath. At this point, the base is a blank canvas. You can add all sorts of flavors here:
- Herbs like basil or mint (chopped or blended in)
- Cracked coffee beans or loose leaf tea
- Orange or lemon zest
- Hard spices, toasted or not
- Toasted nuts or coconut
Here, I’ve chosen to add a split vanilla bean, seeds and pod. The base then chills in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. During this time period, the flavor of the added ingredient will slowly infuse the custard base, resulting in a pure, intense flavor. Right before churning, I stirred in some smoky, citrusy mezcal (that I got in Mexico City!) to compliment the complex vanilla notes (I’m all about the vanilla agave pairing this week!). The finished ice cream has both incredible flavor and texture.
I’m not condemning traditional ice cream making methods here (I’ve got plenty of tasty, more tradition recipes on KK), but I will have to say that this was some damn fine ice cream. Something you might get at Salt & Straw or Bi-Rite. Like, that level tasty. If you’re good at planning your recipes in advance, definitely give this a try. No extra effort is needed here, but you do have to keep the 2-day steeping time frame in mind.
Also! I feel like my photos here aren’t quite doing the texture of this ice cream justice. When I photographed this recipe, my house was HOT. There was actually a heatwave going on in San Diego. So the scoops do look a bit melty. But I can assure you that this ice cream sets up like a dream. Later that evening, I enjoyed a bowl with Jorge, and the scoops were peeeerfect. Firm but creamy with pleasant richness that lingers on the tongue. We’ve enjoyed this ice cream solo or with fun toppings like homemade magic shell and freshly grated orange zest.
Cold Steeped Vanilla Mezcal Ice Cream
- 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 vanilla beans, split in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons mezcal (or tequila or any spirit that might go well with vanilla)
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and have a strainer ready. Add sweetened condensed milk and salt to a medium bowl and set aside. Lightly beat egg yolks in another medium bowl and set aside.
Heat heavy cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat once you see steam rising from the surface and the mixture is completely heated through. Slowly, while whisking, add half of the warm cream mixture to the bowl with the yolks. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. You will know the custard is thick enough when you see steam rise from the surface and the custard coats the spoon (2 - 3 minutes). Strain the custard into the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine.
Place the bowl in the ice bath and stir occasionally to cool (be sure not to get any water in your custard mixture). Once cool, stir in the buttermilk. Using the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods and add them to the mixture along with the pods. Cover the bowl tightly and let chill in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Stir the mezcal into the chilled custard base, then strain the base into an ice cream maker. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours before scooping.
Check out some other fun ice cream flavors on Kitchen Konfidence:2