Sambuca and Espresso Chip Ice Cream

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    1 quart

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

A very popular after dinner drink in Rome is Sambuca con la mosca, literally Sambuca with the fly, so named because the coffee bean that floats in the liqueur looks like a fly that has fallen into your glass. Actually, those furbo (sly) Italians say that if you chew the coffee bean after drinking the liqueur no one will know you’ve been drinking. This ice cream combines the best of both worlds, the anise taste and the crunch of the coffee beans. However, it does leave a telltale smile on your face.


  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons medium finely chopped espresso beans
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Sambuca (anise-flavored liqueur)


Heat the cream to boiling in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso beans and ½ cup sugar. Let steep 1 hour. Strain into an other saucepan, reserving the espresso beans. Reheat the cream to boiling.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar until completely blended. Whisk in about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture, then whisk into the remaining cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil.

Strain the custard into a mixing bowl and immediately place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Stir in the Sambuca. Chill the custard well. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the reserved espresso “chips” just before the ice cream finishes freezing.