We are both coffee whores — think three macchiatos every morning, followed by mid-afternoon cappuccinos. Please don't speak to either one of us prior to morning coffee. No — really. (We won't talk about our shameful Diet Coke habit.)
Legit ice cream shops must have coffee ice cream. It's just a fact. Our variation is an interpretation of Vietnamese coffee, and surprise surprise, it's not cloyingly sweet like most coffee ice creams and actually tastes like coffee.
There was never any doubt that we would use Blue Bottle for our coffee ice cream. For starters, we needed some street cred while we were getting off the ground, and at that point, Blue Bottle was one of the only artisan coffee roasters in San Francisco. Nowadays, we can't even keep up with all the great coffee options.
But even more so, Blue Bottle mastermind James Freeman has been a true friend and a mentor for us. He changed the coffee landscape in our town — and, some would argue, in America. He has been an inspiration, and we've tried to model ourselves after Blue Bottle in many ways. He's always around for advice, too.
We've had a partnership with Blue Bottle since the beginning and use Giant Steps blend in our ice cream. As one of their stronger blends, it's assertive enough to overcome the cream and sugar. Also, it smells really good.
But you don't need Blue Bottle coffee for this recipe — any coffee will do. Opt for top-notch coffee, preferably from a local roaster. The condensed milk makes it "Vietnamese" as well as a little creamier. The secret ingredient is the chicory, which gives it a nice sharp edge and makes it all taste a little more like actual coffee. You can find chicory at natural food stores.
Caution: After eating this coffee ice cream, there is a big chance you'll never be able to have any other coffee ice cream again. You've been warned.
Fill a large bowl or pan with ice and water. Place a large, clean bowl in the ice bath and fill the bowl with a fine-mesh strainer.
In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Slowly pour about half of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture and return it to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan so it doesn't scorch, until the liquid begins to steam and you can feel the spatula scrape against the bottom of the pan, 2-3 minutes.
Remove the custard from the heat and immediately pour it through the strainer into the clean bowl you set up in the ice bath. Stir in the coffee, chicory, and condensed milk while it's hot (you can't cook condensed milk because it'll burn). Let cool, stirring occasionally.
When the custard is totally cool, cover and let steep and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. When you are ready to freeze the custard pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer's instructions. Eat immediately, or transfer to an airtight container, cover, and freeze for up to 1 week.