It’s all about the coffee
The first time I ate a Café Liègeois was in Ajaccio, Corsica. It’s a beautiful town full of grand buildings – blink and you might think yourself in Paris. A fitting place to discover a grown up indulgent dessert.
The Café Liègeois is made with just three ingredients: espresso coffee, coffee ice cream, and whipped cream: the French take on an ice cream sundae. Rather than getting its name from the Belgian city of Liège it was renamed from Cafe Viennoisduring the First World War in homage to the siege of Liège .
As with all simple dishes, great ingredients are a must. Since that day, I have eaten many Café Liègeois and I have come to realise how tricky it is how to get those three ingredients just right. The key is a fabulous coffee ice cream. The taste has to be strong, deep and rounded – nothing wimpy.
If you currently use a cafetière (French Press), you probably enjoy the taste of your coffee, but dislike grounds at the bottom of your cup. Have you come across coffee made in an AeroPress Coffee Maker? Make a coffee using the AeroPress with your usual brand of coffee and you’ll be astonished at the difference in flavour and clarity. Flavours are crisper and clearer and more nuanced and flavourful. At last, I had the means of making a great coffee ice cream.
Now it may be a bit above and beyond to go and buy a coffee maker (around £25) to make great ice cream but if you love coffee and don’t want to spend pounds on a pod system, you know where to go!
Creating the Perfect Coffee Ice Cream
For this ice cream, I am assuming you have an ice cream maker such as the one made by Senseo. I have the standard type where you pre-freeze the bowl then churn using a special paddle to create ice cream within about 25 minutes. Timing will vary depending on the type of machine you have.
- If you don’t have an AeroPress but have coffee capsules, choose a good, strong rounded coffee and 3 of these instead – you might have to experiment.
- Don’t be tempted to use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk please – whole milk makes much better custard!
- Vanilla sugar is so easy to make. Simply add one or two vanilla pods into a pot of caster sugar and let it infuse for at least a day. I’ve experimented and find that 50 grams of sugar is the optimum amount. If you have a sweet tooth, do add more!
- It is well worth using a digital thermometer to ensure the ice cream mixture doesn’t scramble, then cooling it quickly.
Toasted Hazelnuts for Praline Ice Cream
If you love the taste of praline, add 50 grams of hazelnuts lightly toasted and ground to your custard mixture before churning. The taste is fabulous.
Coffee or Coffee Praline Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- 250 millilitres whole milk
- 250 millilitres single cream
- 50 grams vanilla sugar
- 45 grams ground coffee made with 50 ml water
- 1 vanilla pod
- 50 grams toasted hazelnuts optional
- If you are making the praline version, toast blanched whole hazelnuts in a dry pan until light brown all over. When cooled use a coffee grinder to reduce to a powder.
- Have a large bowl half filled with cold water ready The bowl you mix the egg yolks and sugar together will be put in this to cool the custard quickly.
- Make your coffee. Use 3 times the amount of ground coffee you would usually use for one cup of coffee. Add 45 ml boiled water. Set aside.
- Heat the cream and milk in a pan with the vanilla pod until it almost boils - look out for lots of little bubbles.
- Mix the egg yolks, sugar and hazelnuts (if using) together in a heat proof bowl.
- Pour a little of the hot milk and cream mixture onto the mixture mix and put back into the pan. Keep the bowl you used to mix the eggs and sugar, you'll put the custard back into the bowl
- Bring it slowly to 81ºC mixing constantly in a figure of eight motion.
- Immediately pour into the mixing bowl and place the bowl into the large bowl of water to cool. Add the coffee. If you have time, chill in the fridge, you'll find the ice cream churns that much more quickly
- Remove the vanilla pod and place in the frozen bowl and follow your ice cream maker instructions to churn.
- When churned place in the freezer for as long as possible before you make the dessert, preferably overnight.
- Top tip: If you are making the Cafe Liegois, form your ice cream into balls when you've just made the ice cream, it will be much easier to shape than when it has hardened in the freezer. Shape into balls and place into a suitable container.
Now you’re ready to make a Café Liègeois
- 500 millilitres Coffee Ice Cream
- 250 millilitres Whipped Cream
- Cold coffee approx 50 ml per person
- Take one beautiful glass.
- Create one "shot" of coffee per person using your preferred method. Let it cool completely.
- Whip whipping or double cream add a teaspoon of caster sugar and whip again.
- Place the coffee in the bottom of the glass.
- Pop in two or three balls of coffee ice cream and top with your whipped cream - nicely piped if you can.