Pumpkin Spice Affogato

I brainstormed lots of ways to introduce this post, but you know what? Sometimes words fail. So—a photo.

Pumpkin Spice Affogato

Ah. Sometimes, photos fail. Sometimes, the vision you have in your head of what a Pumpkin Spice Affogato will look like doesn’t match the reality, because (1) there’s not much of a contrast between pumpkin-colored ice cream and dark coffee, and (2) not having a tripod means you have to ask your significant other to pour the coffee so you can catch a mid-stream shot, and sometimes your significant other accidentally spills it, and sometimes you lose your temper and very unfairly blame him, and in the time it takes for you to talk it over and apologize, the sun starts setting and you lose the light. So sometimes, you have to ask your readers to use their imaginations, and you have to ask them for forgiveness for the lackluster photos. (And you have to ask your significant other’s forgiveness for snapping at him.)

Just pretend you can see two perfectly round scoops of deep orange pumpkin spice ice cream, with a stream of hot coffee coming down from an unseen pouring device, just starting to melt the top scoop of ice cream. Then, another shot—melty, foamy, frothy ice cream and coffee blending into one puddly mess. Affogato, baby.

Do I need to back up? Not sure what affogato is? Let me enlighten you. Literally meaning “drowned” in Italian, affogato in culinary terms is a scoop of ice cream (typically vanilla) topped with a shot of espresso. Something magical happens with the hot coffee hits the ice cream, producing a frothy, hot-and-cold, sweet-and-bitter, opposites-attract mug of superlative yumminess. I like to make it with a shot of amaretto, and I’ve had a version at Great Sage that included the most chocolate-y chocolate stout I’ve ever tasted—that particular affogato was very nearly a meal in itself.

Now that we’re all on the same affogato-appreciating page, let’s talk about this pumpkin version. Such a simple idea, and pretty darn simple to execute, too. A couple scoops of pumpkin ice cream are all you need to transform the traditional dessert into something any coffee-loving fan of pumpkin spice flavors can appreciate. If you don’t have an espresso maker (alas, I don’t), strongly brewed hot coffee works nearly as well.

Of course, there are dozens and dozens of pumpkin ice cream recipes out there, and the recipe I dreamt up turned out to be very similar to one the ever-inspiring Hannah Kaminsky posted four years ago, right down to the addition of bourbon. So I can’t call my pumpkin ice cream recipe 100% original, but I did make some changes to Hannah’s recipe, reducing the sugar and changing the spice profile just a bit. But you don’t have to use my recipe in your affogato; feel free to choose from any of the plentiful pumpkin ice cream recipes out there.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
Adapted from Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe

  • 1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (or more coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk briskly until all ingredients are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Chill for 10 minutes if necessary, then transfer to your ice cream maker and process following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it’s reached the consistency of your choice, transfer to another container and freeze until ready to use.

Pumpkin Spice Affogato
Serves one

  • 2 small scoops pumpkin spice ice cream
  • 2 shots of espresso or strongly brewed coffee

Place the scoops of ice cream in a heat-safe glass mug. Pour your freshly made espresso or coffee over the ice cream. Eat without delay.

How do you feel about affogato?

Cappuccino Ice Cream

Back in New England, the Hood dairy company is a big thing. Hoodsie Cups were the default low-cost, at-school celebration dessert, and Hood ice cream held a substantial share of supermarket freezer shelves. As a kid, I naturally loved ice cream, and I naturally preferred the chock-full-of-other-sweet-things varieties—peanut butter chocolate swirl was always my favorite. The simpler flavors, like strawberry or vanilla, seemed boring and bland to me. Why waste your time on a single flavor when you could have two? Or three?? And chunks of cookies or chocolate?! And the bottom-of-the-barrel single-flavor ice cream option, in my youthful opinion, was coffee. Ew. Neither of my parents drank coffee, and I did NOT like its flavor. The idea of it infiltrating my ice cream was offensive.

Until I tried Hood coffee ice cream.

I remember it as a transformative moment for my tastebuds, even if I can’t tell you when or where it happened. I remember hesitantly eating a spoonful, ready for the familiar disappointment tinged with disgust, and feeling neither. Instead, I tasted a deep flavor with more to it than just sugary sweetness. I couldn’t tell, at first, whether I actually liked it, but I soon decided I did.

Since then, I’ve had a soft spot for coffee ice cream. It’s not typically my preferred choice—I’m still a sucker for anything with chocolate and peanut butter (old habits die hard). But I appreciate it as a slightly more sophisticated option, and I truly enjoy its flavor now. Or at least I did until I stopped eating dairy—I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a vegan coffee ice cream.

So it was with a certain amount of nostalgic pleasure that I noticed a few coffee-centric recipes as I browsed through my copy of The Vegan Scoop, the cookbook my aunt gave me for Christmas last year. For my second-ever homemade ice cream (and my first-ever from this cookbook), I selected the Cappuccino variety.

 

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This ice cream gets its coffee kick from instant espresso powder, an ingredient I like to have on hand. Unfortunately, my powder sat in storage for a month and a half this summer, so it was more of a melted-then-rehardened glob than a powder. But it dissolved just fine in the hot ice cream mixture.

This ice cream-making experience was notably different from my first one—it took much longer for the ice cream to actually freeze in the machine; I wondered it if was going to stay liquid forever. And the final result was not as firm as the blueberry crumble ice cream. Instead, it’s a soft, melty ice cream that tends to get a little icy around the edges. I wish I could say that the flavor instantly transported me back to that childhood moment when I first realized that coffee ice cream wasn’t all bad, but it didn’t. The recipe called for half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and unfortunately that pungent spice nearly overwhelmed the coffee. It tastes good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little sweeter than I’d prefer and it’s definitely not straight-up coffee ice cream.

Back to the drawing board, then! Now that I’ve got the basic mechanics of homemade ice cream figured out, I might have to take matters into my own hands and come up with a coffee-centric recipe of my own.

What’s your favorite coffee ice cream?

P.S. In case you’ve been waiting for the conclusion of my bee-in-the-car saga… I don’t have one. S and I have been car-swapping since Tuesday evening. He reports that the bee has not reappeared, despite a sugar trap he craftily placed in the car. The uncertainty is killing me! What if it’s just waiting for me to get back in the driver’s seat so it can make an appearance?! What if it is too smart to get trapped in the bottle and is instead feasting by night and secluding itself during the day, growing fat on straight sugar water?! What if it decides to hibernate in my car, rather than face the incessant rain that’s been drowning Maryland for the last few days?!?

…these are the irrational thoughts of my phobic brain. Most likely it is dead or it just escaped unseen back on Tuesday, but I fear the worst. SIGH.

Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream

A confession: I had an ulterior motive for making the granola I shared yesterday. I wasn’t lying when I said I’d been dreaming of it for weeks, but there was another incentive: ice cream.

 

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Oh yes.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to use some of my credit card points to purchase an ice cream maker. I’d been waffling about the purchase for a while, trying to decide whether it would utterly annihilate any aspirations of minimalism I had. I mean, it’s a small appliance with a single purpose! (Fine, three purposes if you count making sorbet and frozen yogurt separately!) It’s another THING I’d own and have to make space for and cart around with me when I move! How could I justify it?!

But then I realized I was trapped myself in a self-imposed definition of minimalism. My minimalism can be whatever I want it to be, as long as it works for me. Maybe it’s a cop-out, but I don’t want to feel restricted by my lifestyle. I also realized that whatever teensy amount of anxiety I might feel about owning another THING would be wholly trumped by the sheer joy I’d experience from being able to make my own delicious vegan ice cream. This freaking ice cream maker is not just going to make ice cream—it’s going to make me happy. It sounds materialistic, but c’mon—doesn’t a sweet frozen treat just make you wanna smile?

So now I own an ice cream maker. :) Its inaugural batch was this Blueberry Crumble Ice Cream recipe I stumbled upon recently. Coincidentally, Shannon over at Killer Bunnies, Inc. also made this ice cream for MoFo! Her theme is straight-up ice cream, so I’ve been getting inspiration for future frozen treat-making from her posts.

Oh, and the ice cream itself? Yeah, it’s about as good as it looks. It’s not terribly creamy, but it compensates with a medley of flavors and textures that make every spoonful taste a little different.

I think I’m gonna like owning an ice cream maker.

 

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Do you own an ice cream maker or similar one-purpose appliance? How do you feel about it? What’s your favorite vegan ice cream flavor?

Stuff That Makes Me Happy: Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Coconut Bliss

As much as I love your average, everyday vegan eats that I prepare on my own (tofu! sweet potatoes! cupcakes!), there are some pre-made products that just make life a little bit easier – and a little tastier. So here’s the first of my “Stuff That Makes Me Happy” product reviews, wherein I’ll sing the praises of vegan products that, well, make me happy! First up is Coconut Bliss frozen dessert, because I just polished off my first pint of this sucker and it deserves a little love.

Before I get to the good bits, I’ll be honest – the $5.99/pint price tag doesn’t actually make me happy. But I was lucky enough to comment first on a Coconut Bliss blog post, and the lovely people at Luna and Larry’s sent me a fabulous Coconut Bliss t-shirt, a couple of stickers with their logo, some literature on their products, AND a coupon for a free pint of their ice cream! Now, that makes me happy, as does the organic, dairy-free, and soy-free ingredient list.

I used my coupon to pick up a pint of Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge, and, well, yeah. Holy yum. This is decadence in a carton, folks. It has the slightest hint of coconut flavor, which I think works well as a base for the chocolate. The hazelnuts add a fun textural change to your ice cream experience, although I think my pint could’ve used a little more fudge. My only other [eensy-weensy, super-tiny] complaint is that I wish the ice cream were just a bit creamier, but I may be spoiled because the last dairy ice cream I ate was gelato… in Italy. So. Yeah. Take that minor complaint with a [big, gigantic, humongous] grain of salt.

The only shortcoming of this ice cream is its nutritional profile. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty dismal in the fat department. Whereas most soy-based ice creams only contain a few grams of fat, coconut milk-based ice creams are extremely rich and contain large amounts of saturated fats. Although the folks at Coconut Bliss address this on their website and explain why coconut-based fats are at least somewhat healthier than animal fats, the fact that one 1/2 cup serving of Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge contains 10g of saturated fat and 16g of total fat is just a little frightening. To be clear, I don’t worry about fat content for weight purposes; I just know that diets low in saturated and total fat are, well, a heck of a lot healthier than those containing lots of fats.

In the end, though, I believe that it’s a matter of moderation. I don’t eat much fat on a day-to-day basis, and if I want to splurge and have a serving of Coconut Bliss every once in a while, I’m damn well going to do it, and I’m going to feel fine about it. I’m treating it like, well, a treat, especially since it’s so rich that I can’t eat much at a time (even when I was a kid, foods high in fat made me feel sick). I’ve made the pint last for at least three weeks now, which is really quite impressive. When I do have a helping, I make sure to savor it – no mindless eating here! I pay full attention to each spoonful, enjoying the flavors and textures. And that, my friends, makes me very happy indeed. :)

(“Photos” aren’t mine, obviously. I found them from Google Images; I imagine they’re from the Coconut Bliss website originally.)