I first began drinking coffee in Taipei, oddly enough. It was thanks to a Central American coffee baron who built a swank, bohemian coffee shop to house his devastatingly beautiful mistress, who played her flamenco guitar into the wee hours to the applause of me and my artist friends. It was all deliciously bizarre, and I became a coffee maven.

My coffee passion extends to ice cream, of which this is a special example. “Bracingly unsweet, absolutely refreshing, for espresso-lovers only!” read my collected tasting notes.

If you like an iced coffee effect, stick to the formula below. For a richer taste, add another ¼ cup half-and-half and a bit more sugar to compensate.

The ice cream mixture can be refrigerated for up to three days before freezing. Once frozen, it holds well for two to four days, the longer time if you add the extra cream.

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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup whole espresso beans
  • 1 fat cardamom pod
  • A 1-inch length of crumbly cinnamon stick
  • 1¾ to 2 cups half-and-half
  • About ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup strong brewed espresso

Method

  1. Grind the espresso beans, cardamom, and cinnamon in a coffee or spice grinder until fine.
  2. Combine the ground mixture with cups half-and-half and ½ cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a foaming near-boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes or until cool. (The acidity of the beans may give the mixture a curdled look; disregard it.)
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract every drop. Discard the grounds. If you don’t like the texture of the tiny grains that slip through the mesh (an opinion on which people divide quickly into warring factions), filter it a second time through a finer sieve.
  4. Stir in the brewed espresso. Taste. If the mixture is too strong for you, add ¼ cup more half-and-half and sugar by teaspoonfuls until the mixture is a touch too sweet; the mixture should taste a touch too sweet at room temperature if it is to taste perfect when frozen.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface. Let soften slightly before serving.

Serving Suggestions: I like this ice cream straight, in private and at midnight. For company, add Cappuccino Coins or a drizzle of Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce.

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