I was delighted when I got an ice cream maker for Christmas this year and could not wait to bust it open and make my first batch of beer ice cream. My brain has been hard at work for months dreaming up a variety of beer ice creams, but the lack of proper hardware always got in the way. With this barrier now removed, I was free to start experimenting. Since this was my first time making a beer ice cream, I played it a little safe and went with a chocolate based ice cream with a roasty, chocolaty beer. For the beer, I went with New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened black ale. Weighing in at only 21 IBUs and 5.6% ABV it was smooth enough to work nicely in the cream and had the right taste profile with chocolate and subtle coffee notes. With the most important part done – selecting the beer – I set out to assemble the rest of the recipe. I wanted mix-ins and really like coffee in my ice cream, so espresso brownie bits sounded like an excellent way to go. For a little kick, the last addition was coconut. It just seemed like the right thing to do. So, my final product ended up being a 1554 ale chocolate ice cream with espresso walnut brownie bits and coconut mixed in. Sounds like a winner to me!
After deciding on what the ice cream was going to be, I had to write the recipe. For the brownies, I went simple and used the Humming Bird Bakery’s brownie recipe and made some minor changes to work in the espresso flavor and walnuts. They turned out great. Crispy on the outside and really gooey on the inside. The espresso flavor was not as strong as I was hoping, but amazing none the less. I made the brownies first so they had plenty of time to cool before cutting and adding them to the ice cream. For the ice cream itself, I was going to use a recipe from The Beer Bistro Cookbook, but it called for 12 egg yolks and I just couldn’t get over that. I know that’s how you make ice cream, but it seemed so wasteful and bad for me! I thought perhaps I could make an angel food cake with the egg whites, then I remembered I didn’t have the right pan (damn hardware always getting in my way). I have been hearing rave reviews about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for months now and knew that she uses unconventional thickening methods (cream cheese and corn starch) which means no eggs, so I went that route. I was nervous since it seemed like a bizarre way to make ice cream, but put my trust in the hundreds of people who had reviewed her book on Amazon and had successful results. I modified her Kona Stout Ice Cream recipe quite a bit, upping the beer to milk ratio and making it a chocolate ice cream rather than coffee. With everything in place, recipes written, and ice cream bowl chilled, I went to work.
The brownies were easy to make and came out great as I mentioned before. Feel free to use any brownie recipe you like for this ice cream. If you want a coffee flavor, just dissolve 3 tbls instant espresso powder in about a tbls of beer or water, then add that to the batter. The ice cream was also surprisingly easy to make. With all my ingredients laid out and ready to go ahead of time, it came together quickly. It set up nicely in the ice cream maker and froze beautifully. Jeni’s technique is genius and makes an amazingly smooth and scoopable homemade ice cream. When I took my first bite, I was surprised by how strong the beer flavor came through. I was worried, but I kept eating. The more I ate, the more I loved it. When you get a bite of ice cream with brownie, the flavors go together perfectly. A plain ice cream bite is also good, with the beer adding a bit of a bite that is strangely addicting. The coconut was not very noticeable, but a nice thing to have in the background. It could easily be left out or the amount upped depending on how much you love (or hate) the tropical treat.
I am extremely satisfied with how this came out. The only bad thing is that it made a lot and I want to eat all of it – now. I’m excited about the endless possibilities of homemade ice cream making I have a head of me. This was an awesome Christmas present.
New Belgium 1554 Ale Ice Cream w/Brownies & Coconut
What you need (makes about 1 quart):
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbls whole milk
- 1 1/2 tbls cornstarch
- 3 tbls cream cheese, softened
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbls light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup beer (I used New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened black ale. Feel free to use another beer, but make sure it has a chocolatey, coffee taste to it)
- 3/4 cup Brownie bits (Use any brownie recipe you like. Let them cool, then cut then into small bits to mix-in. I used an espresso brownie w/walnuts)
- 1/2 cup Coconut (optional)
What you do:
Start by making your brownies. They will need to be completely cool before you add them to the ice cream, which will take some time. Follow whatever recipe you choose and leave them out to cool when they are done. When they are cool, cut some of the pan into bite sized pieces to put into the ice cream. Put the pieces in the fridge for a bit to chill before adding them to the ice cream maker.
For the ice cream, mix 2 tbls of the whole milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. It is important to make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved to make a slurry, so mix well! Set that aside and then in a new bowl, incorporate the cream cheese and salt together in a large bowl (you’ll be adding a lot more to it later and need the room). Set that aside. Now comes the important part, making the custard.
Combine 1.5 cups whole milk, 1.25 cups heavy cream, 2/3 cups sugar, 3 tbls corn syrup and 1/2 cup cocoa powered in a large sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 4 minutes (Be careful not to have the heat on full blast. Let it come up to a boil gently or you will scold the milk). After about 4 minutes of boiling time, remove the pot from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry you made earlier. Turn the heat back on the pot and let it come to a boil for about 3 minutes, until it has thickened slightly. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula the whole time.
Remove the pot from the heat and slowly pour the hot mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese while whisking. Whisk the cream cheese/custard vigorously for a few minutes until you have worked in all of the cream cheese and it is smooth. Next, pour in the beer! Whisk some more until it’s all incorporated. The hard part’s done and it’s all about being patient from this point on (which for some may actually prove to be the hard part).
Now you need to cool the ice cream base. You can do this however works best for you. I poured it into a gallon freezer bag and plunged that into an ice bath (ice and water in a big bowl), then let it chill out in the fridge for about an hour. You could also just put the bowl into an ice bath and cover the mixture with some plastic wrap. Whatever works for you. The freezer bag/ice bath set up worked well. You should let it cool for at least an hour. This will result in a much smoother end product. Once your ice cream base is cold, add it to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions (which usually means turning it on and walking away).
Let it churn for about 25 minutes, then add in the brownie bites and coconut if using. You should add them in when the ice cream looks pretty much done. Use the add spout on the ice cream maker and add them in while it is still churning. Let it go for another 5 minutes or so, then turn off the machine. Scoop the ice cream into a freezer safe container and let it set for 4 hours or more in the freezer. After that, it should be ready to go. Scoop and enjoy!