Coffee Fudge Swirl Ice Cream

I have always made my Cappuccino Ice Cream by mixing real espresso with heavy cream. It tastes delicious. But adding 8 ounces of espresso, which is mostly water, allows some ice crystals to form taking a slight toll on the texture of the final ice cream. So today I used Chris Kimball’s technique of heating ground coffee grounds directly in the milk/cream mixture. Not only does using a custard base result in unparalleled silkiness, but the heating allows me to  simultaneously “brew” the coffee. The texture is amazing, and the flavor is nearly as good as using real espresso. The only draw back is that it you must strain the custard base three times to remove 95% of the coffee grounds. 5-stars.

Pictured here with my son’s 13-th birthday cake.

Usually I swirl in Dulce de Leche to my coffee ice cream, but today my son requested using Chocolate Fudge. As an adult, I prefer the Dulce de Leche, but this combination using chocolate fudge was a home run with my guests (whose average age was 12-years-old). It was decadent. Just be sure that the fudge sauce has cooled completely before swirling into your ice cream.


  1. The main problem with Chris Kimball’s recipe is removing the spend coffee grounds from the custard base. He instructed me to strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer, but my strainer let quite a bit of grounds through. In fact, I had to strain the custard three times in order to remove enough of the grounds.
  2. Also, Chris Kimball instructed me to strain the chilled custard, but I strained it as part of the cooling process. I don’t think that this contributed to the straining problem, but I do think that my technique allowed for the custard to remain colder, which is critical to prevent ice crystals from forming.
  3. I also tried to strain through a paper coffee filter, but the custard was too thick and never permeated through the filter. I only have a French Press at work, but think that that would have worked well.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $5.20.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12 Noon. Finish time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original Ice Cream recipe is here, and his Chocolate Fudge Sauce recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Hot Fudge Sauce:
4-oz semisweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces.

  1. Break chocolate into pieces and melt in small heat-proof bowl placed over a pot of nearly simmering water. Don’t allow the water to boil. Stir the chocolate occasionally, which will take about 10 minutes to melt. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa until it has dissolved.
  2. Place a heavy-bottom pan over low heat, and warm sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, salt, and 1/4 cup water for 5 minutes without stirring.
  3. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the burner to medium/high and simmer for 4 minutes; stirring often.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter pieces and vanilla extract. Once combined, whisk in the melted chocolate/cocoa.
  5. Allow to cool completely before spreading on ice cream, or serve warm to make Hot Fudge Sundae.

Coffee Fudge Swirl Ice Cream:
2 Cup heavy cream (1 pint)
1-1/2 whole milk
1/2 cup ground coffee or espresso beans.
1-1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla.

  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water; to be used as an ice bath after removing cream from stove-top.
  2. Add heavy cream, milk, coffee grounds and 1 cup sugar to medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture reaches 160°; stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar completely dissolves. Temporarily remove pan from heat to prevent the milk from boiling.
  3. Meanwhile in a small bowl, beat the yolks together with 1/4 cup sugar. Be sure not to let the egg yolks and sugar sit for any length of time; after 5 minutes the combination will get hard. Temper the yolks by whisking in 1/2 cup of the 160° cream. Then whisk in a second 1/2 cup to further temper.
  4. Add the yolk mixture back in with the cream/coffee in the saucepan. Cook over medium burner until the mixture reaches180°; stir constantly with heat-proof spatula. Cooking too long will scramble your eggs.
  5. While the mixture heats up, wash your medium bowl and place it in ice batch, and get your strainer handy.
  6. When the mixture reaches 180°, immediately strain your mixture into the medium bowl. Wash the strainer and then strain the mixture two more times to remove as much of the grounds as possible.
  7. The ice batch will allow the mixture to cool to room temperature quickly; stirring occasionally will help it cool. Add vanilla extract, cover, refrigerate for 3 hours. Alternatively freeze for 1 hour; just be sure it’s below 40°.
  8. Add mix into the ice cream machine’s canister. Churn for 30 minutes or how ever long your ice cream machine recommends. While ice cream churns; pre-freeze a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and the ice cream’s final container/bowl.
  9. When ice cream finishes spread in thin, even layer of pre-chilled baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to leave as little air as possible, and freeze for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  10. Use a spatula to spread your fudge evenly over entire surface of ice cream, then roll up ice cream into a long cylinder.
  11. Put finished ice cream in airtight container, or press plastic wrap against the ice cream’s surface. Freeze for at least 1 more hour before serving.

Matt celebrating his 13-th Birthday with his friends

7 Responses to Coffee Fudge Swirl Ice Cream

  1. Debby says:

    I wonder what would happen if I put the coffee in a large herb strainer and steeped the milk that way– or, perhaps put the coffee in a cheese cloth, and then steeped it. Hmmm, I’ll have to try that. i’ve been wanting to make a coffee ice cream, and I much prefer an egg custard base. Great review and tips!

  2. Anna says:

    Given all your struggles, I think I’d steep/strain in the milk alone, then create the custard.

    Does the recipe mention how finely ground the coffee should be? Controlling that might help the straining process too.

    (Just supposing that a coarser grind would be easier to remove, since what you want is coffee flavor, not necessarily actual espresso made with finely ground coffee.)

    Have you ever tried the instant espresso powder stuff? I use it in baking all the time. With that, no straining beyond what you might do for a regular custard.

    • Hi Anna, Thanks for the suggestions.

      The recipe says “coarsely ground”, I just used pre-ground coffee for a drip machine. But that’s a great idea to grind it more coarsely; not sure how course my home grinder will go. It’s only when I make it using real espresso that I use finely-ground beans, but those go into my cappuccino maker.

      I used to use instant espresso powder in many of my dessert recipes, but have shifted them all to real espresso over the past few years since I got my cappuccino maker. I definitely can taste a slightly better flavor using espresso over coffee in the ice cream; not nearly as dramatic as the difference between regular coffee and a cappuccino; but something like that.


      • Anna says:

        Thanks for the feedback, interesting about the espresso flavor. The most I can manage with real grounds (since I don’t have espresso type equipment) is to just make a coffee concentrate. Not sure that does quite the same thing, isn’t espresso all about steam? (which I’m assuming extracts more flavor?)

        The other idea I have is to use a different type of strainer. I’ve got a Finum strainer basket (amazon has them) that I usually use to make a cup of coffee (steep, then filter, quick, easy and nicely hot coffee, but there are very, very fine grounds in the bottom of the cup, not sure I’d notice it in ice cream, no real grit, though. Definitely don’t filter custard through that one, LOL!…. )

        I’ve never strained coffee through my chinois, It’s certainly very fine, and makes crystal clear broth a snap, though.

        Sorry to ramble, but thought I’d share the thoughts, in case they’re useful. (If I added roasted almonds to this recipe, I’m not sure I could ever stop eating it, LOL!)

  3. Sarah says:


    I stumbled across your blog a while ago and have managed to read all of your previous posts and find that I am now eagerly anticipating your next posts! I love what you are doing here and think that you should most definitely keep it up. I make recipes only from Cook’s Country magazine, but a lot of the same issues that you have are the same for me as well. There is never enough dredge mixture (I usually double it) and always too much sauce. Sometimes, I wish that I could watch them see how they determine the quantities of the ingredients involved in their recipes.

    Okay, rambling aside, I was wondering if you had tried Cook’s Country’s “Magic Ice Cream” recipe. I was thinking back to the birthday ice cream cakes that you have made and I wondered if the magic ice cream recipe might be a better fit. The recipe for the chocolate version does call for espresso powder, but only to augment the chocolate flavour. But you could easily increase the amount and make it more coffee-flavoured.

    Anyhow, you’re doing a wonderful job! Keep up the great work!


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