Monday, July 02, 2007

Cafe de olla ice cream, mom's hot fudge sauce

Fourth of July as a kid meant hot-fudge sundaes. Sure, at my parents’ annual bash we had other things to eat, most notably my dad’s barbecue brisket, which he got up at the crack of dawn to start smoking so it would be ready to feed the multitude of guests arriving later that day. And we had potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob and coleslaw as well. But dad’s homemade ice cream topped with my mom’s hot fudge was always the highlight of the day—a smooth, rich treat that set off fireworks in my mouth.

Now that it’s summer, it seems not a day goes by that I don’t read about someone’s homemade ice-cream concoction. I’m not usually one to jump on the bandwagon, but after reading about so many mouth-watering frozen treats (many coming from David Lebovitz’s delightful and excellent new book, The Perfect Scoop) I could no longer deny myself the pleasure and joy of making my own ice cream.

I’m not prone to buying single-use devices, but as my family has made ice cream for over a hundred years, I decided it was high time I fell in line with the family tradition. Of course, my ancestors had a wooden-bucket ice-cream maker that you’d fill with rock salt and ice, and crank for hours until your cream churned into a solid, cold treat; my whiz-bang electrical machine that whips up a batch of ice cream in twenty minutes with no exertion—save for the push of a button—would be a foreign concept to them. But I reckon if they had had access to an electric appliance back then they would agree that it’s an acceptable path to creating ice cream.

Growing up, my family’s ice cream specialties were vanilla bean, peach, chocolate chip, and cookies and cream. And all of those are fabulous, but I wanted to christen my shiny new toy with my favorite flavor—coffee ice cream. And not just any old coffee ice cream—I decided to get super fancy and make cafe de olla ice cream. Cafe de olla is a Mexican hot beverage brewed from dark-roasted coffee beans, piloncillo (a Mexican dark-brown sugar) and cinnamon. The sweetly caramelized flavor of the coffee and brown sugar gets a nice kick from the cinnamon, and I thought it would be fantastic as a frozen treat. And hot fudge goes splendidly with both tastes.

When I asked my mom for her hot-fudge recipe, she laughed that it was the hot-fudge sundaes that stuck out most in my mind since I don’t, ahem, have much of a sweet tooth. Not to mention her recipe calls for a staggering three cups of sugar! Meanwhile, my dad was miffed that I wasn’t asking him for his brisket recipe, though if I get a stove-top smoker (does anyone have one of these? What do you think?) I know he’ll be the first person I’ll call.

For the ice cream, I followed my maker’s basic vanilla recipe and just added some coffee and cinnamon to taste. And I opted to go egg-less since I didn’t want to mess with cooking anything. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be creamy enough, but I found that the recipe after a couple of hours in the freezer had a smooth mouth-feel yet wasn’t too heavy. So not only was it a faster path to ice-cream heaven but it also made for a lighter bowl, which is preferable on steamy July days.

And that’s where I got into trouble—the heat. I’d never taken a photo of ice cream before and now I know why some stylists use mashed-potatoes or shortening mixed with powdered sugar and corn syrup—they don’t melt. I would never want to use those things since I’m all about being able to eat whatever it is I shoot, but I can understand those stand-ins' appeal after attempting to capture my little sundae’s glory. Not soon after I’d topped my scoop with some sauce, the ice cream was dribbling down the sides of the cup, yearning to return to its original state. I threw my subject in the freezer for a few minutes, pulled it out, but before I even had a chance to snap the shutter, the darn thing was dripping again all over my saucer and spoon.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s when to pick your fights and my shooting a perfect scoop was a losing battle. So before the whole thing was a complete puddle, I decided to dig into what was left of my sundae. Plus, my favorite way to eat ice cream has always been to stir it around until it turns soupy, so even if it wasn’t pretty or perfectly firm, the flavor was fantastic.

I miss those parties we had when I was a kid and while a lot of the details are blurry, I do retain crisp snapshots of certain elements: the adults lounging and laughing in the backyard while sipping cold beverages; the children darting around wildly waving their sparklers; the long walk around the neighborhood we’d all take after eating; and of course, all that good food. So while I won’t be spending the Fourth with my family, at least I now have my new toy and I’ll recall those fine days by digging into a big bowl of my own homemade ice cream with hot fudge.

Cafe de olla ice cream
2 well-chilled cups of heavy cream
1 well-chilled cup of milk
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup of well-chilled strong coffee (can use decaffeinated)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (can use more if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor)

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Then freeze and churn according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions.

Mom’s hot fudge
1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
12 oz. can of evaporated milk (not sweetened!)
3 cups of sugar

Melt butter and chocolate in top of double boiler.
Stir in 3 cups of sugar (I realize that’s a lot, so you can start with two and work your way up by tasting it if you want less sugar) and the can of evaporated milk.
Cook until sugar is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Can keep in the refrigerator for a week, and as it cools it gets more solid and fudgier—it’s delicious to eat cold with a spoon as well!

Meeta is hosting an ice-cream social for July’s Monthly Mingle. Here’s my offering, and I can’t wait to see what others bring for what should prove to be an amazing round-up of frozen treats!

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Yvo said...

You know, before I started reading this, I just stared at that picture for a good 5 minutes. I started reading and kept going back to the picture. Now I get to the end and find you didn't like the picture?! Are you KIDDING me?!!!! Oh man, that picture just calls out to me. I'm sure I'm not the only one; the drips make it real and accessible. Something I would eat or make.

PS If you get that stove top smoker, I will be at your place in a flash, haha. I recently moved and now have a gas grill at my disposal, I am itchy to smoke something but have no time in the upcoming weeks, doh. But I'll do it, just wait...

Homesick Texan said...

Yvo, I guess I should been more clear--I like the photo, but it was sort of hard to shoot because the darn thing kept melting. Thanks for your kind words! And cool news about having access to a grill--I can't wait to read your grilling adventures. I'm leaning toward the Emeril cast-iron stove top smoker myself, but I haven't heard too much about it.

Jim Hunter said...

If you have ready access to it you might try dry ice. Dry ice is much colder than any freezer (-109.3°F)and will make the ice cream much harder and there for take longer to melt. You can also put a few small pieces in the bottom of the bowl or cup before adding the ice cream. Just be sure to ALWAYS handle the dry ice with heavy gloves as it can leave a very nasty burn on bare skin.

Jerry said...

Oh I tried to make peach ice cream, not a full success, but better than last weeks disaster. To bad I'm not a fan of coffee because your recipe sounds interesting. But the hot fudge will go perfect with vanilla. Oh and I'm going to finally breakdown and buy a Perfect Scoop.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I think ice cream looks best when it's all drippy and melty. This is perfect! I've been making a lot of lemon buttermilk sorbet lately -- really wonderful.

Lydia said...

I'd almost -- almost -- pass up the ice cream for that luscious blob of hot fudge on top! The photo may not be perfect (i.e., frozen in time), but the sundae looks divine.

Anonymous said...

Got hooked onto your site a few weeks ago, while looking up some Texas Red. I love the food photography that you do. Some of the depth of field appears as if your using a lensbaby or a tilt/shift lens or am I just seeing things?

Take care,

shuna fish lydon said...


Do you think it's ok if I was so inspired by this post that I went and found myself a hot fudge sundae and some good strong Pacific Northwest espresso, for BREAKFAST??!

Good g-d woman, this is killing me.

Dilip said...

great ice the recipe....have to try it...thanks

alyse loving said...

You sold it; I'm making this for the 4th!!

Tea said...

I think it looks incredible, makes me want ice cream for breakfast as well. And to think, I'm only missing a few ingredients...

And the peach, that sounds divine (sigh).

Homesick Texan said...

Jim--That's funny, I passed a store today that sells dry ice, I may try that next time I shoot ice cream.

Jerry--When we finally get peaches here, I can't wait to try it! I understand that the fruit proportions are tricky though. And yep, the hot fudge is wonderful with vanilla!

Christine--Thanks! It was a quick shoot, but that just meant I got to eat it sooner! And I'm keen to try making buttermilk ice creams as well. You'll have to tell me how you do it.

Lydia--Trust me, I can eat the hot fudge with nothing but a spoon!

Chuck--I use a manual macro 55mm lens on my Nikon D200 and I always shoot wide open--that's probably how I get the Lensbaby effect.

Shuna--I ate it for breakfast, so that sounds like an terrific idea!


Alyse--Excellent! And I bet you'll be able to make it in Ireland, too. They have coffee there, right?

Tea--Have it for breakfast, it's a sweet and cool way to start the day. And hopefully we'll have peaches soon so I can experiment. I'm thinking I might use buttermilk with the peach.

Homesick Houstonian said...

Where are you that you are without peaches? We have them at Whole Foods (Bowery) and they've been incredibly sweet!

Vanessa said...

Love coffee ice cream and so I must throw the ice cream thingy into the freezer so I can make some too. But I really love the photos and the saucer under the cup is perfect.

Cynthia said...

I'm taking the pic tomorrow for Meeta's mingle and it is the first time I'll be shooting ice cream also :O I plan to shoot mine in the freezer! Hopefully the photo shoot will not take long.

See you at the mingle.

Your notes have been useful and helpful.

radish said...

mmm.. coffee ice cream! i'd love to make this, but i'd be the only one eating it, as the boyfriend is lactose intolerant. i suppose that's the opposite of having a problem - more for me! lovely pictures!

TJL said...

There was (is, but she's focusing on her baby) that writes beautifully about buttermilk, and buttermilk ice-cream. Here's the link:

Homesick Texan said...

Homesick Houstonian--I'm in Chelsea (can you believe I still haven't been to the Bowery WF yet?) but I was referring to farmer's market peaches, though I should check and see if we have peaches at the Chelsea WF. Of course, no peaches are finer than Hill Country peaches which we'll never see here in NYC!

Vanessa--I've decided that my ice cream bowls are going to live in the freezer this summer since it's such a snap to whip up a batch!

Cynthia--That's a great idea! Can't wait to see your ice cream creation!

Radish--Trust me, it's not difficult to eat the whole batch by yourself, I know I did!

TJL--Thanks for the wonderful link! Can't wait to try this!

bakerina said...

One almost does not know where to begin here. :) The only idea more ingenious than that of cafe de olla ice cream is cafe de olla ice cream with plenty of hot fudge. Thank you, Lisa, thank you.

(Apologies for taking so long to tell you how grand it was to meet you at Shuna's roundup at Veselka. I am enchanted by both your prose and your palate. :)

Michelle said...

What a cool flavor idea. The ice cream still looks great, drips and all.

Robin said...

I love your writing--not just your pictures, but your prose always leaves me drooling!!

And coffee ice-cream is my FAVORITE! It helps you to not feel like so much of a kid when you gorge yourself on it! :)

Mom said...

Hi, Lisa, from the farm.
The ice cream freezer is soaking in water so that we can make homemade vanilla tomorrow and of course hot fudge.
Your recipe and photos are a fabulous appetizer.
We miss you!

Luna said...

OMG you are effing killing me! Coffee flavored ice cream is also my fave, and as a kid I used to stir up that bowl until it was pudding-like ice cream! I don't know HOW I'll ever stay on a diet when your photos and your prose and your palate are so pleasant and torturous! =)

tiny banquet committee said...

I am dying for an ice cream maker but I haven't got room in my kitchen for one more thing of that size. I suppose I could make hot fudge sauce to adorn store-bought ice cream, though. Hmm.

Tommy said...

I think a heaping spoonful of homemade dulce des leches would make a mighty fine ice cream topping. A few toasted pecans, fire up a maraschino cherry and I think that might offer a good change from chocolate.

David said...

In Texas, don't they usually deep-fry their ice cream? ; )

Andrew Galarneau said...

Girl, coming from a real childhood of brisket sufficiency as you do, the only thing a stovetop smoker can do for your brisket deficiency is sharpen the cravings for the real thing. I've seen people saying that Hill Country is the real deal, so I suppose that'll do in an emergency.

Homesick Texan said...

Bakerina--Thank you for such kind words. And it was lovely meeting you as well!


Robin--I never thought of it that way, especially since it was my favorite flavor even when I was a kid!

Mom--Howdy! Give eveyrone big hugs for me and I wish I was there!

Luna--I find that method mitigates the chance of getting a brain freeze!

Tiny Banquet Committee--There are ways of making it w/o a maker, such as freezing the liquid ice cream in the freezer and blending it every hour or so to churn it. Though hot fudge is also splendid on store-bought ice cream as well!

Tommy-You're loving the dulce de leche! I still haven't tried to make it but hope to this weekend!

David--Yep, anything edible is a prime candidate for the deep-fat fryer in Texas.

Andrew--Good to know! And I love Hill Country, I've been a couple of times and its moist brisket is indeed excellent!

Mike said...

Ohhhh, hells bells, that spoon needs to be licked clean. Wowzaaa, that looks soooo delicious

Scribbit said...

I'm usually a strawberry fan more than chocolate but get me a good hot fudge and all bets are off (this would qualify as a good hot fudge!)

ALL THE BEST said...

Just found your wonderful blog! I'm a homesick Texan living in the UK. It's a great country and the opportunities to travel are fantastic! But nothing compares (in my opinion) to Tex-Mex, Pappasitos, BBQ, ribs, fish tacos, and chicken fried steak. I would love to link your blog to mine.

Sandi @ the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I haven't been in a while~ look what I've been missing!
I'm adding your link so I can pop in more often.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you keep coming up with these wonderful recipes but I'm so glad you do! I can't wait to try this out. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

lacyrenfro said...

Texas! I moved to Louisianna one time for 6 whole months for my husbands job....well I made him quit so we could move back.

Homesick Houstonian said...

I still need to get to a farmer's market and a co-op here. They're so personal, it takes great leaps over my shyness to go into a new one. If you go to WF Bowery you won't be waiting in long lines and you have lots of space to shop, though the Chelsea WF gives me that feeling that I'm in a real whole foods.

wheresmymind said...

I now want a hot fudge sundae...thanks a lot!! :)

Julie said...

Coffee is my hands-down favorite ice cream flavor, but coffee with brown sugar and cinnamon sounds even better.

Homesick Texan said...

Mike--Don't worry, it was licked clean!

Scribbit--I agree, hot fudge can turn any flavor into a dream!

All the best--Howdy and welcome! Your blog is very cool as well. Can't wait to hear about your trip to Spain, one of my favorite places on the planet!

Sandi--Don't worry, I'll always save a spot at the table for you! I ran into the Big Bob people at a recent BBQ festival here in NYC, which reminds me it's high time I return to Alabama!

Anon--Thank you so much, it's my pleasure!

Lacyrenfro--Ha! I've heard that story told many times! You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the girl!

Homesick Houstonian--You definitely need to check out the farmer's markets here--no disrespect to WF, but (in the summer at least) the produce you can find at the markets is not only less expensive but fresher (because its local) and tastier as well. Plus, they usually have a bunch of hard-to-find items such as fresh epazote. That said, I finally visited WF Bowery this weekend and WOW! If I lived on the LES, that would become my home away from home (though WF Chelsea is already a contender since I'm in there almost daily)!

Wheresmymind--Sorry to incite such a craving, but this hot fudge is a snap to make!

Julie--Yea! Another coffee ice cream lover! And yes, the brown sugar and cinnamon add another spicy, rich layer to the flavor.

Tartelette said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I understand the complications with taking the pictures but it made my tummy melt....again, great shots. Now, if only I could have one of these *here*, *right now*....!

Ingrid said...

hi! thank you for your recipes!!! the photos make me want to get in the kitchen & try them all out. i am from new zealand and never been to texas but now it is on my destination wish list! thanks again :)

Anonymous said...

This looks sooooo good and I really want to try it, but "4 squares of chocolate" has me confused. Could you spec the weight?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--4 oz. of chocolate

Fort Worth girl said...

Thanks for providing one great recipe after another. Not all of them appear in my memories of Texas meals, but it doesn't matter. The ones I've tried have been great, and the rest I would like to try. My favorite thing about this post is the vision it evokes of north central Texas summers as a kid in a sun suit waiting my turn to sit on the ice cream freezer as my mom, dad or uncle turned the crank to perfect vanilla, strawberry, or peach ice cream. Then, waiting and waiting as we ate dinner, the frozen cream sat enrobed in more ice, newspaper and towels finishing up its firming process. I begged to get the prized dasher as it was removed from the ice cream and raced to lick it off before it melted down my front. I followed that my own big bowl of semi-soft ice cream. Thanks for reminding me of such wonderful times.

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