It’s taken me at least a month to finally gather my thoughts for this particular post. And I’m sorry about that because this tiramisu ice cream is rather outstanding and you really should try it soon, especially if you’re up for a little boozy kick at the end of a long, super hot day. You see, from the moment I made this ice cream, all I could think about was my grandma. I put down some thoughts about her last year, about my grief at the end of her life; she passed away just a few hours after I published that post. It’s been a long year and I’ve done a lot of reflecting, remembering…and there’s still a good amount of guilt happening, but moreso, so many great memories I’ve pulled up from the recesses of my brain.
She would have loved this ice cream, both for the simple fact that it was ice cream, but also because of the booze. Gramma was a notorious baker in that she put booze in nearly every.single dessert she made and in turn, ruined nearly every.single dessert she made. I swear she thought she was Julia Child. As a kid, it wasn’t so funny when you stuffed a forkful of chocolate cake with cherry filling into your mouth and were all but knocked over with the flavor of brandy. An inedible slice of cake. Talk about a cruel joke. As an teenager, it got to be a running joke amongst my brother, cousins and I: which liqueur would Gramma wreck her dessert with tonight? This was all in good fun, of course, though we later found out that she even added brandy to the onion soup mix dip she used to make, which was understandably pretty terrible as well. Who does that??
Gramma also always had ice cream in the freezer and Magic Shell in the cabinet. I suspect my mom’s ice cream sweet tooth is a result of this. They both had/have a purposeful habit of leaving the ice cream on the counter for a few minutes after returning from the grocery store so that they could spoon off the softened edges around the carton – it was the best part. Now, I didn’t grow up in a very Italian family, though my dad is 100%, and Gramma wasn’t Italian at all. And I don’t actually remember her ever making tiramisu but she would have flipped over this tiramisu ice cream.
Even right from the freezer, its texture is smooth and rich, almost as if it were softened from sitting on the counter. An espresso-mascarpone base with a noticeable bit of Kahula and brandy whipped up in a food processor replaces an egg yolk custard base in this recipe and amazingly, none of the creaminess of a custard ice cream is lost here. So it’s a quick, no-cook ice cream base that will last a couple of days in the fridge if you’re not ready to churn right away. There is a layer of mocha fudge ripple that you’ll swirl around the freshly churned ice cream which kind of sets off the whole experience. Needless to say, Kyle and I both adored this ice cream. The booze adds a little oomph and left me feeling like we should have been having dessert at an outdoor café under the stars. Or better yet, on the screened-in porch at Gramma’s where we could always find her reading or napping on a hot summer afternoon with the bay breeze blowing in. The greatest memories never fade.
If you want to skip the booze, increase the espresso powder to 1 teaspoon or use ¼ cup cold strongly brewed coffee or espresso. The ice cream will be a bit on the harder side because alcohol doesn't freeze solid and therefore it helps to keep the ice cream on the softer side.
- 16 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2/3 cup sugar
- ½ tsp instant espresso powder
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup Kahula or other coffee-flavored liqueur
- 3 tbsp brandy or dark rum
- Mocha Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup strongly brewed coffee or 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 6 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- To make the ice cream: Add the mascarpone, half-and-half, sugar, espresso powder, salt, Kahula, and brandy or rum to a food processor. Puree until well-combined, smooth, and the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a resealable container and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, at least 6 hours. Freeze the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
- To make the mocha fudge ripple: Whisk the sugar, corn syrup, coffee, and cocoa powder together gently in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook for 1 minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow to cool completely then transfer the ripple to a resealable container and chill thoroughly - at least 6 hours.
- To assemble: Layer the freshly churned ice cream with half of the mocha fudge ripple in two layers in a 2 quart container. The remainder of the ripple can be saved for another ice cream (like tin roof) or used as an ice cream topping. Swirl a knife quickly around the ice cream. Freeze the ice cream completely before serving - it will need at least 4 hours.
source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz