More Mocha Madness

This is thee first in what will probably be a long series of Leiths recipes.  We begin (as in on this blog, I have no idea what we are starting with on the course!) with basic ice cream making techniques.  This, as you may already know from my other posts, is something I’ve been keen to tackle anyway, especially since being given an ice cream maker for my birthday. 

Under the guidance of Leiths Cookery Bible, I feel this batch was my most successful yet.  Here’s what I have learnt:

1. Freezing dulls flavour.  So you actually want your ice cream base to be sweeter, zestier, stronger than you may normally prefer.  For coffee ice cream, I used some really strong instant espresso powder.

2. Chill, chill, chill everything.  This was something that had already been emphasised to me by the lovely people at St George’s Gelato and echoed by the recipe instructions.  Once you’ve made your custard or ice cream base, cool it right down in the fridge. 

3.  The bowl of your ice cream maker is really cold.  Maybe even colder than your freezer- is that possible?  So make sure it is clean before you put it in to freeze.  Trying to wipe it out once it is frozen will only result in kitchen towel/jay cloth frozen stuck to your ice cream maker bowl.  Not a good look or particularly tasty.

So here is that recipe:

Coffee Ice Cream
 from Leiths Cookery Bible

You will need:

 4 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
425ml single cream
5 tsp instant coffee powder (I used espresso powder for a slightly stronger coffee taste)

1.  Combine the cream and coffee in a saucepan and heat gently until the coffee dissolves.

2.  Into a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg yolks with the sugar and salt.  Pour the coffee-cream mixture into the bowl, stirring throughout.

3. Put the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Stir continuously until the mixture is thick and custard-like.

4.  Strain and allow to cool before chilling completely in the fridge, whisking occasionally.

5.  Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Or pour into an ice tray and freeze, whisking when the ice cream is half-frozen. 

The recipe produced a delicious, creamy ice cream, but quite a  lot of it.  I really feared it would end up languishing in our freezer forever if I didn’t actively do something with it.  I came up with two tasty combos.  A kind of Eton mess with blackcurrant (did you know that coffee and blackcurrant are bosom buddies? I didn’t.  Thanks, flavour thesaurus) and cardamom, coconut and coffee ice cream sandwiches.

Coffee and Blackcurrant Meringue Sundae

You will need:

 Serves 4

1 L coffee ice cream (home made as above or shop bought)
3 egg whites (leftover from the ice cream recipe)
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice
Blackcurrant jam or compote


1.  Start with the meringues.  Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.  Gently heat approx 100ml of the jam or compote with a little water until you have a runny sauce.  Allow to cool. 

2.  Using a perfectly clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites and vinegar/lemon juice into frothy submission.

3.  Add about 50g of the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are firm- you should be able to tip the bowl upside down.  Add the remaining 100g of sugar and whisk to incorporate.

4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.  Spoon out 6 large, round meringues.   Using a teaspoon, carefully lace the blackcurrant sauce through the meringues, creating swirly shapes as you go.

5.  Place in the hot oven, turning the heat down to 100 degrees.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the meringues feel dry and easily lift off the tray.

6.  Break into pieces and scatter on top of scoops of the ice cream.  Pour over the remaining blackcurrant sauce.

Coffee, Coconut and Cardamom Ice Cream Sandwiches

You will need:

175g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
pinch of salt
120g butter, softened
90 g caster sugar
90 g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
crushed seeds from 8 cardamom pods
1 large egg
150g dessicated coconut+ a bit more for decoration (if desired)
Coffee ice cream (home made or shop bought)


1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2.   Combine the flour, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.

3.  Beat together the butter, sugars, vanilla, cardamom and 150g of coconut in a larger bowl, until light and fluffy.  Mix in the egg.

4.  Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.

5.  Drop the batter by generous, rounded tablespoonfuls onto a lined baking tray.  Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.

6.  Bake until golden- about 8-9 minutes.  Cool completely and resist the temptation to eat them all. 

7.  Fill two cookies with a scoop of ice cream, squashing and shaping with a kitchen knife to form smooth sandwiches.   Roll the ice cream part of the sandwich in the remaining coconut.  Serve immediately or return to the freezer.  The sandwiches will keep quite happily for a few days in the freezer, but may need a little thawing time before serving. 

A Chocolate Caffeine Fix

I made these for Ed, our old flatmate, on his birthday.  He likes coffee and good chocolate, so when I stumbled upon this recipe for Mocha Fudge Brownies, it seemed like the gods were trying to tell me something.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have enough time to let the chocolate set properly (or even to take a decent photograph, as the above attests), so the results were pretty gooey.  Forks would have been appropriate.  However, Ed, being a clever sort of fellow, told me he later froze the remains that hadn’t been devoured at his party.  I can only imagine that the resulting ice-cream sandwich-like treat must have been heaven- like a coffee flavoured frozen mars bar.  A tip!

Mocha Choc Brownies

90g good quality chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)
115g butte
170g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tbsp coffee-flavoured liqueur or very strong espresso
1 tsp vanilla
100g plain four
2 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

75g butter, softened
260g icing sugar
2 tbsp coffee-flavoured liqueur like Tia Maria
2 tbsp very strong espresso

120 ml whipping cream
1 tsp golden syrup
160g good quality chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)


1.  Heat the oven to 175 degrees C.  Line a square tin with baking paper and grease.

2.  To make the brownies, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Leave to cool while you combine the brown sugar, eggs, liqueur or coffee and vanilla in a small bowl.

3.  Add this to the cooled melted chocolate.  Stir in the flour, cocoa and salt, whisking until you have a smooth, thick batter.

4.  Pour into your prepared tin and smooth the top to even out.  Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

5.  Leave the cake to cool while you make the frosting.  Beat the butter, icing sugar and coffee flavour in a medium sized bowl.  Use an electric mixer if you have one.  You can adjust the flavouring if you like, adding more coffee or sugar.  Put in the fridge for at least an hour. 

6.  To make the chocolate glaze, combine the syrup, cream and chocolate in another bain marie.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients have combined to form a shiny, smooth mixture.

7.  Once the brownies have completely cooled, frost with the coffee icing.  Refrigerate until set.  Finally,  carefully spread over the glaze to form three layers- brownie, frosting, glaze.  Pop in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Cookies, Coffee and Cream

Espresso granita with hazelnut chocolate chip cookies

I think coffee is one of my favourite ice cream flavours- so smooth, so creamy.  And it particularly comes into its own when you have people round for dinner- dessert and coffee in one.  Badda bing, badda boom.

The only thing is, I don’t have an ice cream maker.  I would love one, but don’t really have the room to store it (or the freezer space to hold all the  different flavours I would inevitably make).   This espresso granita is a pretty good compromise.  It’s ridiculously easy- just brew some strong coffee (decaf, in this case), pour into a shallow Tupperware container and leave in the freezer for 4-6 hours, stirring and scraping the ice crystals when you remember (at least three times).  Serve in espresso cups or shot glasses, with single cream on the side for those who like their coffee white. 

Because I like something sweet with my cuppa (whether that’s tea or coffee), I made these mini chocolate chip hazelnut biscuits to serve with the granita and to make the whole thing a bit more of a pudding.  The wonderful thing about these cookies is that you have to freeze the dough, for easier cookie-cutting, then cook them from slightly thawed.   So making an extra batch to leave in the freezer and have on hand should anyone drop by for tea (or whenever you fancy a couple of biccies) is a bit of a given, really. 

Cookies, coffee and cream.

Mini chocolate chip hazelnut cookies
(makes 3 rolls of dough, about 20 cookies each)

 You will need:*

150 g hazelnuts (whole and preferably shelled, to make life easier for you)
125 g butter, softened
3 dl icing sugar
zest of 2 oranges
3 tsp ground ginger
2 small eggs, beaten.
4.5 dl plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
300 g dark, quality chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids,  I used Greens & Blacks)


1. If you are using un-shelled hazelnuts, heat a large frying pan and roast the nuts until their ‘skins’ start crisp up and come off easily.   Put onto a plate or some kitchen roll too cool before rubbing with your palms, letting the skins fall off.

2.  Beat the butter, sugar, ginger and orange zest until smooth.  Add the eggs. 

3.  In a small bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together before slowly adding this to the buttery mixture to form a sticky dough.

4.  Chop the chocolate roughly (or bash or wizz quickly in a food processor) add this, along with the hazelnuts, to the dough.

5.  Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide into three balls.  Roll each of these into long, sausage-like shapes.  Remember, you are making mini cookies, so don’t make the sausages too thick.  Wrap in cling film and freeze until needed.

6.  When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 180 C.  Unwrap a the cling-film dough and slice into 1-cm thick rounds.

7.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies, until golden but still ever so slightly gooey in the middle.  Keep an eye on them as they burn in seconds.   The remaining dough will keep in the freezer for up to a month or so. 

* I’ve gone and used decilitres (dl) again.  Sorry about that.  A dl is 100 millilitres.  Get a measuring jug and measure 300ml worth of icing sugar and 450ml worth of flour.  Sorted.