Some of the best things we create come from the best of inspirations. In this case, taking one of your favorite desserts and turning it into another of your favorite desserts. More specifically, taking tiramisu–a delectable, rich and deliciously flavorful Italian cake–and making it into ice cream! And so, I present tiramisu ice cream made from scratch.
Let’s go back to inspiration for a bit. Why ice cream? Why not just make tiramisu?! Well, this goes back to my love of kitchen toys. One of my good friends, and mentor, Anna is moving to West Africa with her husband and daughter to teach overseas for a few years. So, she obviously needed to get rid of some excess things they’ve picked up over the years. (Moving can be so stressful, am I right??) I went to her going-away party a few weeks ago where I spotted an ice cream maker in the “Take please” pile. I was thrilled! My parents and I wanted an ice cream maker for the house. So I gladly took Anna’s off her hands.
Fast forward to the fourth of July. My mom and I planned the menu for the evening and we had everything down. For those interested, my dad grilled up a rack of ribs that were marinating overnight in my mom’s amazing bbq marinade. We also had grilled corn and peppers for a side dish. And of course, we served everything with rice. My mom and I didn’t know what to do for dessert. At first we were just going to get ice cream from the store and give ourselves a break until my mom remembered that ice cream maker sitting in our kitchen!
We went back and forth on flavors and we both tried looking for recipes online. I got a basic idea of how to make ice cream from a few different recipes. I settled on tiramisu for two reasons: 1) It seemed like an awesome opportunity to see if I could recreate the many flavors of tiramisu in the ice cream. And 2) It’s a dessert that I knew my parents and I would all love. See, we usually have 2-3 different flavors of ice cream in the house at all times–one for each of us. Tiramisu is a favorite for all of us, so I knew an ice cream version would prevent me from having to make 3 different flavors from scratch.
Creating the recipe was two-fold. First, I had to get all the ingredients to make ice cream. Second, I had to find a way to incorporate all the important parts of tiramisu into that ice cream. The ice cream was cooked with an egg, milk and heavy cream base. This version does take a little more effort than a regular non-egg base, but it comes out creamier in the end. That’s just my opinion though. Then, to make it more tiramisu-like, I added a good bit of mascarpone cheese and a little vanilla. So, the ice cream itself is vanilla and mascarpone.
Tiramisu also has espresso and coco powder. To incorporate these flavors, I created a little swirl for the ice cream. I heated my remaining heavy cream in a saucepan. In another bowl I added some semi-sweet chocolates that I chopped up. Pour the cream into the bowl and mix until the chocolate melts and is smooth. To that I added some un-brewed coffee and mixed to incorporate it. It should come out tasting like chocolate espresso. I’ll be honest, my swirl was unsuccessful. A successful swirl should be prominently separate in color and flavor. Mine was separated in taste, but not quite in color. I looked it up and got this amazing article about adding mix-ins for ice cream. I’d beat myself up but this was my first try at ice cream. You try and learn. That’s just how it goes!
To add some texture, I soaked some lady fingers in espresso–like you would in a regular tiramisu. I let them dry on a drying rack so they wouldn’t be soggy in the ice cream. Word of warning: lady fingers are really delicate, especially once they’re wet. When I say I soaked them, I really just lightly dipped them in brewed coffee and then very carefully moved them to the drying rack. Once they were dry, I would break them into little bits and scatter them in the ice cream as it freezes. See above article for the best time to mix in your lady fingers so that they retain their shape and texture once the ice cream is fully done. As I mentioned, lady fingers are quite delicate so adding them too soon will cause them to dissolve into the ice cream.
There are a couple of ways to actually make ice cream. You can either follow the directions of your ice cream maker to churn it out, or you could just freeze it yourself. If you’re lucky enough to have an ice cream maker–and I really recommend them–there’s some preparation that comes with it. The key is to freeze the bowl for an entire night before actually using the machine. The frozen bowl helps the ice cream harden as it churns, so that’s key. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just place your mixture in a freezer-safe bin until it’s formed. Take it out and let it soften before tossing it in a food processor to churn before serving. No way is better, so go about it in whatever way suits you.
My goal for this recipe was that the ice cream actually tasted like tiramisu. And it did! Even with all my mistakes, my family said they could taste each flavor, even the mascarpone in the ice cream! My other goal was to create something that I’ve never tried before. And I did that too. Making ice cream at home was really fun and not much more laborious than baking or cooking. I look forward to more chances to try different flavors in the future. So, look out! Maybe those recipes will show up here too. Until then, enjoy this one.
What is your favorite ice cream? What have you made lately?
Tiramisu Ice Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 pinch salt
- 5 large egg yolks at room temp
- 10 oz mascarpone
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 cups semisweet chocolate pieces roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup dark coffee or espresso brewed
- 2 tbsp dark coffee or espresso not brewed
- 12 pieces lady fingers
PREPARE THE MIX-INS: Lightly coat both sides of the lady fingers in brewed coffee. Let them dry on a cooling rack. Let them cool in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the components.
MAKE THE SWIRL: Heat the last 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan until warmed through. While it's heating chop up the semi-sweet chocolates and place them in a bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate pieces and mix together until smooth and creamy. Add the coffee grounds and mix until incorporated. Let it cool in the refrigerator while the ice cream churns.
MAKE THE ICE CREAM: Combine the milk, sugar, 1 cup heavy cream and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium high heat until just warmed through. Turn off heat. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks. While whisking GRADUALLY pour the warm milk mixture into the yolks. Whisk until incorporated. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over medium high heat. Whisk constantly until it forms a thick custard. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Strain out the thicker pieces into a big bowl. Stir in 1 more cup of heavy cream.
CHURN the ice cream as instructed on your ice cream maker. If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the mixture in a freezer-safe container with a sealed top. Freeze for at least 4 hours to overnight. Before completely frozen, mix in the lady fingers and swirl. Keep freezing until frozen. Before serving, mix it in the food processor until you reach the desired consistency.
TO COMBINE: Chop up the lady fingers roughly into smaller bits. After the ice cream finishes churning, begin to layer your components. Layer the bottom of the dish with your ice cream. Add lady finger bits and spoon in your coffee chocolate swirl. Repeat until all your components are used. Using a spoon, create a swirl design--do NOT mix the ingredients. Cover and freeze completely before serving!