Java chip ice cream is my idea of heaven on earth. And while the summer may be waning, I couldn’t resist the thought once it came into my head – homemade Java Chip Ice Cream, using a delicious base with an incredible coffee flavor, studded with lots of bittersweet chocolate.
I used to be content with store-bought, at least when I could get the original Starbuck’s version of java chip. That flavor was just about perfect in my book. But then Starbuck’s changed the recipe to one that company called “Java Chip Frappucino;” it was a pale imitation of the original and I lost interest. After a few disappointing purchases of other brands, I gave up.
Moving on, I ate more than my share of nutella espresso cookies and drank coffee (hot or iced) with chocolate chess pie. They were good, even great. But when I really wanted a fix of Java chip ice cream, those substitutes just didn’t do the trick.
That’s when I stumbled upon the Jeni’s Ice Cream Base. Although I’d heard that Jeni’s was an incredible ice cream, and had seen it in stores, this was my chance to try a homemade version. So I researched how to add coffee flavoring and decided on Elise Bauer’s (Simply Recipes) steeping method. With a bunch of roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate, the result was amazing.
This version of Java chip may not be exactly like the Starbuck’s one I used to pine for. Without a side-by-side comparison, I really can’t say. But it’s wonderfully creamy, the coffee flavor is deep and rich, and the chocolate is in the right proportions. With dark roasted beans and bittersweet chocolate, this ice cream isn’t too sweet. The coffee and chocolate flavors really come through and the coffee aroma is intense when you add the beans to the base and let it steep.
Elise Bauer uses all decaffeinated beans in her coffee ice cream, while I used a 50/50 mix of caf and decaf; as long as you use dark roasted beans, the choice or proportion of caf and decaf shouldn’t affect the taste.
I won’t kid you – homemade ice cream takes more time and work than a batch of cookies or a bundt cake. But the results can be incredible. And when you use higher quality ingredients than most store bought, and no additives, you’re in for a treat.
You’ll need an ice cream maker for this recipe. I have one and have discovered that many of my friends do too; if you don’t, ask friends and neighbors if they have one you might borrow.
Two Important Notes on Making Homemade Java Chip Ice Cream –
- Size of the chocolate chunks – The chocolate won’t change size when you add it to the ice cream. Make sure none of the chunks is too large – I would say that none should be larger than the size of your pinky nail and most should be smaller. If you prefer, use bittersweet chocolate chips and chop or grind a bunch of them so that you get different size pieces.
- Freezing the ice cream maker container – The container must be well frozen before you begin churning the ice cream. Put it in the freezer (empty), wrapped in a plastic bag the night before you want to make the ice cream. Take the container out only minutes before you need it to churn the ice cream (the last step) to keep it freezing cold.
Preparing the coffee ice cream base is simple, but does require a bit of patience. After bringing the milk-and-cream-base to a very low simmer with the coffee beans submerged, you just let the mixture steep for 60-90 minutes. When it is done steeping, you remove the coffee beans (with a slotted spoon) and heat the base.
The cooking process thickens the base enough to coat a spoon well.
Then you mix in the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chunks. (They go in after the ice cream is put into the ice cream maker.)
When you’re done cooking the homemade java chip ice cream, you simply cool the mixture in a plastic bag submerged in ice water, and then churn it in your ice cream maker.
Once churned, the ice cream just needs a few hours in the freezer to set. Then it’s ready for scooping. I’m an ice cream cone girl from way back, but others in my house prefer a couple of scoops in a dish. And if you’re so inclined, this java chip makes an awesome ice cream soda.
What did I do with the coffee beans after I used them to steep out the coffee flavor? Seeing that I was about to throw them out, my husband suggested rinsing and drying them on a cheesecloth-line wire rack, then using them to make our morning coffee. I was dubious, but agreed. After all, if I have cooked pasta in cold water thanks to my buddy Donna Currie, why not try using already-steeped beans for coffee? The result was perfectly good coffee. I wouldn’t have guessed that the beans had been “pre-used” if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Count this among the many reasons, I am glad I married the guy.