Last weekend, while making cà phê sữa đá — iced Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk — it occurred to me that this would make for a fantastic ice cream flavour.
Since my trip to Vietnam last year, I have become rather addicted to Vietnamese style coffee. Why?
- Vietnanese coffee is a blend of robusta, arabica, chari and catimor beans — it’s a wonderfully aromatic combination and has a very unique flavour.
- It is brewed using a phin — a small, simple drip filter shaped like a top hat. You watch your coffee slowly drip, drip, drip for four to six minutes through the filter into your glass. The slow drip results in coffee with the strength of rocket fuel. You can read more about brewing a perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee here.
- You can optionally serve it with ice and sweetened condensed milk. For me, that’s about 99% of the time!
Cà phê sữa đá just begs to be turned into ice cream! For this ice cream recipe, I used Trung Nguyen coffee, Vietnam’s national brand. If you can’t find Trung Nguyen coffee (or another brand of Vietnamese coffee) from a local Vietnamese market, you can substitute a strong French roast coffee.
I also used Longevity Brand sweetened condensed milk, which you should be able to find at most Asian grocery stores. Longevity is my brand of choice as it doesn’t contain any oil, fillers, or other strange ingredients. Plus it has a cool label that screams wise choice. Longevity also happened to rank #1 in a condensed milk taste test by Serious Eats.
Results? The ice cream has a strong, rich coffee taste with notes of butter and caramel from the condensed milk. Using condensed milk also results in an extremely malleable ice cream. Even after 24+ hours in the freezer, the ice cream was ready to scoop, requiring no softening time in the fridge or on the counter. I’ll be eating this ice cream for breakfast for the next week!
2 1/4 cups half-and-half cream
1/4 cup ground Vietnamese coffee
1 300 mL can sweetened condensed milk
- In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 3/4 cups of the half-and-half until gently steaming.
- Add the coffee grounds and let steep for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how strong you’d like the coffee flavour to be. (I steeped for 6 minutes, for rocket fuel strength ice cream.)
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the grounds. If a few rogue grounds escape, that’s okay. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and the condensed milk.
- Slowly pour the warm half-and-half mixture into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
- Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking. Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
- Chill overnight in the fridge.
- Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.