Sunday, October 7, 2012

At times

As always, I'm not about to stop eating ice cream just because the first rain falls or because I can't go out of my house anymore without putting my jacket and my boots on.

I am and I will always be the one who desperately clings on to the warmer days, the sunnier days, the days when the sun doesn't set at six o' clock and doesn't rise at seven-thirty.

Possibly it's the fact that I'm a Greek living in Northern Europe. I'm programmed to get cold around December and not October. I'm programmed to wear less layers of clothing. I'm programmed to need more sunlight, more warmth, more laughter, more spontaneity, more outgoingness, more of the things I miss here.

I have been eating this ice cream every day this week. It's been a tough week, with hospital visits and doctors and nurses trying to stick needles into arms and time refusing to pass. With waiting rooms and books that keep you company, notebooks filled with random thoughts, ideas that seemed clever at first and quotes you wished could come true.

All is well that ends well, and everything ended well. And then there was ice cream. Because at times, it's one of the things you're looking forward to the most. Getting home from a tough day at work or out in the world, fantasizing about that first spoonful, licking the bowl, the smell of the coffee, the sweetness of the custard, the smoothness, the creaminess, the richness.

This is good ice cream, a proper coffee ice cream with an intense coffee flavor that isn't masked by the sugar and paired with the hazelnut biscotti, the harmony of flavors and textures is simply divine.

Slightly bitter espresso flavor with that aroma of freshly ground coffee hitting you straight away, only to be replaced by the fragrance of butter and orange when you bite into the crispy and luscious biscotti.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I will have one more bowlful of this.

Coffee Ice Cream
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

This ice cream is made with freshly ground espresso beans. I used mild-flavored beans and I suggest you do the same, since the flavor of the coffee is really pronounced in the ice cream and you don't want it to be overwhelming. It's a dessert after all.

Yield: about 900 g

50 g espresso coffee beans
500 ml whole milk
6 egg yolks, from medium-sized eggs
60 g soft, light-brown sugar
120 g caster sugar
300 ml cream, full-fat
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Special equipment: coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, fine sieve, muslin cloth or coffee filter, ice cream machine

Place the coffee beans in a coffee grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) and coarsely grind them. Don't grind them finely because they will create sediment in the ice cream that will ruin its texture.

Place the ground coffee beans in a small saucepan, add the milk and stir with a spoon. Heat over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pan and be careful not to boil the milk. Remove the pan from the heat, put the lid on and allow the coffee to infuse into the milk for 30 minutes.
Pour the milk through a fine sieve lined with muslin cloth or coffee filters and into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep the milk warm.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks, soft light-brown sugar and caster sugar and whisk with a hand whisk until you have a thick and creamy mixture. Add the warm, coffee-infused milk and mix with the whisk.

Empty the mixture into a medium-sized saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. It will take about 5 minutes.
Pour the custard through the fine sieve and into a clean bowl and then add the cream, the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Stir with a spatula to mix and leave to cool. Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour so the mixture gets really cold.

Then, whisk the mixture and pour it into your ice cream maker. Churn, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Once the ice cream is ready, empty it into a container suitable for the freezer and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

Hazelnut and Orange Biscotti
Adapted from Tartine

Biscotti are Italian cookies that are baked twice in order to have that characteristic crispy texture. These are not too dry though.
Since they are traditionally served with coffee, I thought it was a great idea to serve them with the coffee ice cream.

Yield: about 12 biscotti

35 g blanched (skinned) hazelnuts
65 g unsalted butter, softened
80 g caster sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
Zest of a small orange
160 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Special equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, medium-sized baking sheet, baking paper

Place the hazelnuts in a small pan set over a medium heat and toast them until they become fragrant, stirring them around frequently so they don't catch. Take them out of the pan and chop them coarsely.

Line the bottom of a baking sheet with baking paper.
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius / 320 Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the softened butter and beat with the paddle attachment (or with your hand-held mixer) on medium-high speed, until creamy and light. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and light-colored. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the Grand Marnier and orange zest and beat until incorporated and then add the flour, the baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix with a spatula. The dough will be a little soft and ever-so-slightly sticky.

Empty the biscotti dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a log, about 3.5-4 cm in diameter. If it sticks to your hands and you can't shape it, flour your hands.
Place the log onto the lined baking sheet and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the log is set to the touch and has taken on a light-brown color on top.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the log to a wire rack. Allow the log to cool slightly and then transfer to a cutting board. Cut the log into 1 cm thick slices on the diagonal with a serrated knife. Place the slices on the baking sheet, cut side down, and bake the biscotti for 6-8 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other, until their edges are lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

You can keep the biscotti in a container, tightly covered, at room temperature for a couple of weeks.


  1. Hazelnut-orange biscotti and coffee ice cream sound like a match made in heaven. As always, beautiful post - images and words together.

    Sorry to hear you've been in contact with a hospital lately, but happy to hear that it seems everything has smoothed over. Best wishes for a safe future!

  2. Glad to hear all went well, must have been a tough week. The ice cream and biscotti look amazing.

  3. Wow. Just wow. This is quite possibly my dream dessert. I am serious when I say that I will be making this as soon as I get an ice-cream maker.

  4. Thank you all! You're very sweet.

  5. Magda,
    I hope everything's okay. I am worried about you and all of the time at the hospital.
    Ice cream is always a good comfort. And coffee ice cream is the best. Yours looks absolutely delicious. I hope it gave you the solace you craved.
    Wishing you well,

  6. Your biscotti looks wonderful. So does the ice cream. I'd love to have a bite of this for dessert tonight!

  7. Wonderful. You always know just what to cook. Glad everything is good.