I think about food a lot. Actually, I'm thinking about food at least 90% of the time. The other ten percent of my brain activity is taken up by "more important" things (emphasis on the air quotes) like college, my future, what I'm going to wear tonight... But don't worry, my constant food thoughts aren't of the unhealthy variety. (You know, like thinking about eating all of the food ever. Actually, I do that sometimes, too.) Instead, I'm usually dreaming about what I can do with food.
The other day I had an epiphany. In the midst of an intense New Orleans dessert brainstorm sesh, I came to the conclusion that if I was held at gunpoint and forced to crown one local dish as the quintessential New Orleans sweet, I'd probably pick beignets. I mean really, what's better than little squares of fried dough drowning in a sea of powdered sugar. (Nothing.) Naturally, my food-obsessed brain then started thinking about the beignet's liquid lover, a piping hot cafe au lait perfectly balanced with a hint of chicory. And then, bam! The idea came to me: beignet ice cream sandwiches. And the rest is history.
Though research of the interwebs shows that nobody has ever done such a thing. Call me a trendsetter. *hairflip*
Let's talk about this coffee ice cream. Nigella Lawson is pretty much a miracle worker, considering that she shared her secret to making creamy, soft, delicious ice cream at home without using an ice cream maker. I even have an ice cream maker, but this ice cream is so good that I've decided to skip out on making the real stuff. Only four ingredients, a whisk, and just a few hours chilling away in the freezer before you are left with the creamiest, richest, amazing-est coffee ice cream ever made. Too easy, almost.
Sandwich that stuff in between homemade beignets and you're set. One bite and I'm instantly transported to one of my countless childhood powdered sugar fights at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. That's nostalgia alright.
One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream
(the amazing Nigella method! makes 1 pint)
- 1 1/4 cup heavy or double cream, well-chilled
- 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons espresso liqueur (I used Kahlua)
Whisk all the ingredients together just until the whisk leaves trails of soft peaks in the bowl, and you have a gorgeous, caffe-latte-colored airy mixture.
Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Serve straight from the freezer.
Cafe du Monde-style Beignets
one 0.25 oz packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shortening
vegetable oil (for frying)
confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water. Once dissolved, add the sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk. Mix well. Add in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (The longer, the better!)
Roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 2-1/2 inch squares. Fry the dough in hot oil (360 F). If beignets do not pop up, oil is not hot enough. Drain onto paper towels to cool. Once cool, cut beignets in half and place a scoop of the prepared coffee ice cream in between. Dust with confectioners' sugar.