Coffee custard transforms plain ice cream into sundae with a kick

Affogato means drowned, and it’s a distressing thing to witness after dinner. Innocent vanilla ice cream, cowering in a cup, is doused with scalding espresso. Way too “Game of Thrones.”

The Italian dessert is supposed to serve up contrast: hot and cold, sweet and bitter, vanilla and espresso. But the hot shot melts the cold scoop, yielding lukewarm coffee soup.

I called in rewrite. In this version, the ice cream keeps its cool in a chilled glass. It’s lavished with coffee custard and finished with a swirl of whipped cream.

Maybe the dish veers toward all-American sundae. But it makes for a very happy ending.

Coffee Sundae

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 3 minutes

Makes: 4 sundaes

1 pint vanilla ice cream

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon water

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso, hot or cold, caf or decaf

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 ounces best-quality milk chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons coffee liqueur

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped cream

1. Freeze: Scoop 4 ounces ice cream into each of 4 small glasses. Freeze.

2. Whisk: Drop yolks and water in a bowl and whisk briefly. Keep handy.

3. Melt: Dissolve espresso powder in coffee. In a medium saucepan, heat coffee, cream, chocolate, sugar and salt over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and chocolate melts.

4. Temper: Whisk a little of the coffee mixture into yolks. Whisk yolks back into coffee mixture, and cook over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Stir in coffee liqueur and vanilla. Strain this custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large glass measuring cup. (Makes about 1 cup coffee custard.)

5. Serve: Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons hot coffee custard over each serving of ice cream. Top with a spoonful of whipped cream. Enjoy.

Whipped cream: Using an electric mixer or a whisk, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to soft peaks.

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