Oh, man, I was a good barista. I hate to admit it now, but I used to love to look down my nose at people who ordered abominations of the brew. A hazelnut mocha, or worse, a fucking sugar-free vanilla, decaf breve with whipped cream(?) was met with contempt thicker than treacle. I brought that same pride and “if you can’t do it awesome, then why the fuck do it at all” work ethic to the machine every day. I adjusted my grind for changes in barometric pressure and humidity. Anything less than a quarter-inch of crema went down the drain (or into a mocha, which is a 13-year-old coffee drinker’s teething ring and not what Real Coffee Drinkers drink). One time I even had an Italian man come in (a real-life Italian!), order a doppio, and he did that kissing his fingertips thing and said “bellisima!” upon tasting the delicate perfection of my shots. Swoon!
I still drink my espresso straight, with just a hit of sugar and maybe a little splash of cream. For cooking, though, I use instant espresso. Oh, if I had the Cadillac of espresso machines – a La Pavoni – well sure, I’d pour a couple shots. But this is just ice cream, folks. Just be sure and use a good instant espresso (I like Medaglia D’Oro) for the best flavor.
I tweaked a basic ice cream recipe (I call it a “blank”, because you can use this recipe for probably any ice cream and it’s rich and delicious) as follows: 2.5 cups heavy whipping cream, 0.5 cups water, 6 egg yolks, 0.5-0.75 cups sugar. Heat the cream, sugar and water until just to a boil, add 3 or 4 (or 6) tablespoons of powdered espresso, a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla.
Pull the cream off the heat and temper the eggs (this means slowly and deliberately incorporate the egg yolks and cream, while avoiding the terrible mistake of turning your dessert into an omelette). I’d advise you watch a video of this being done a few times, and maybe practice on a crème brûlée once or twice if you’re nervous. Return the cream/yolk mixture to the heat and gently (I mean GENTLY!) heat the custard until it’s thick and coats the back of a spoon. Seriously, you’ve come this far, why would you go and fuck it up by aggressively heating this up? It’s your newborn baby. You wouldn’t boil your newborn baby, would you?
If you’re very fussy like me, you’ll pass this newborn custard through a fine-mesh sieve or some cheesecloth before you chill it. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions to get it from custard to ice cream (usually some type of “chill for at least three hours in the fridge, run it through the machine until it’s like soft-serve, then harden off in the freezer for a few hours or until you cannot possibly stand it any more”). Your patience will be rewarded.
Gilding the (Voodoo)lily is spooning warm dulce de leche over the top. Now that’s a toe-curl, darlings. I bet this would also make a pretty righteous brown cow with some Manhattan Special, if you can get it, or just in a float with some cream soda.