Back in New England, the Hood dairy company is a big thing. Hoodsie Cups were the default low-cost, at-school celebration dessert, and Hood ice cream held a substantial share of supermarket freezer shelves. As a kid, I naturally loved ice cream, and I naturally preferred the chock-full-of-other-sweet-things varieties—peanut butter chocolate swirl was always my favorite. The simpler flavors, like strawberry or vanilla, seemed boring and bland to me. Why waste your time on a single flavor when you could have two? Or three?? And chunks of cookies or chocolate?! And the bottom-of-the-barrel single-flavor ice cream option, in my youthful opinion, was coffee. Ew. Neither of my parents drank coffee, and I did NOT like its flavor. The idea of it infiltrating my ice cream was offensive.
Until I tried Hood coffee ice cream.
I remember it as a transformative moment for my tastebuds, even if I can’t tell you when or where it happened. I remember hesitantly eating a spoonful, ready for the familiar disappointment tinged with disgust, and feeling neither. Instead, I tasted a deep flavor with more to it than just sugary sweetness. I couldn’t tell, at first, whether I actually liked it, but I soon decided I did.
Since then, I’ve had a soft spot for coffee ice cream. It’s not typically my preferred choice—I’m still a sucker for anything with chocolate and peanut butter (old habits die hard). But I appreciate it as a slightly more sophisticated option, and I truly enjoy its flavor now. Or at least I did until I stopped eating dairy—I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a vegan coffee ice cream.
So it was with a certain amount of nostalgic pleasure that I noticed a few coffee-centric recipes as I browsed through my copy of The Vegan Scoop, the cookbook my aunt gave me for Christmas last year. For my second-ever homemade ice cream (and my first-ever from this cookbook), I selected the Cappuccino variety.
This ice cream gets its coffee kick from instant espresso powder, an ingredient I like to have on hand. Unfortunately, my powder sat in storage for a month and a half this summer, so it was more of a melted-then-rehardened glob than a powder. But it dissolved just fine in the hot ice cream mixture.
This ice cream-making experience was notably different from my first one—it took much longer for the ice cream to actually freeze in the machine; I wondered it if was going to stay liquid forever. And the final result was not as firm as the blueberry crumble ice cream. Instead, it’s a soft, melty ice cream that tends to get a little icy around the edges. I wish I could say that the flavor instantly transported me back to that childhood moment when I first realized that coffee ice cream wasn’t all bad, but it didn’t. The recipe called for half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and unfortunately that pungent spice nearly overwhelmed the coffee. It tastes good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little sweeter than I’d prefer and it’s definitely not straight-up coffee ice cream.
Back to the drawing board, then! Now that I’ve got the basic mechanics of homemade ice cream figured out, I might have to take matters into my own hands and come up with a coffee-centric recipe of my own.
What’s your favorite coffee ice cream?
P.S. In case you’ve been waiting for the conclusion of my bee-in-the-car saga… I don’t have one. S and I have been car-swapping since Tuesday evening. He reports that the bee has not reappeared, despite a sugar trap he craftily placed in the car. The uncertainty is killing me! What if it’s just waiting for me to get back in the driver’s seat so it can make an appearance?! What if it is too smart to get trapped in the bottle and is instead feasting by night and secluding itself during the day, growing fat on straight sugar water?! What if it decides to hibernate in my car, rather than face the incessant rain that’s been drowning Maryland for the last few days?!?
…these are the irrational thoughts of my phobic brain. Most likely it is dead or it just escaped unseen back on Tuesday, but I fear the worst. SIGH.