If you follow the (partly) tongue-in-cheek dictates of Diana Vreeland—infamous Vogue editor-in-chief and outrageous style icon—you’ll know that during an earlier tenure at Harper’s Bazaar, she wrote an outlandish “advice” column that always began with the words “Why don’t you…..?”
As in: “Why don’t you have a yellow satin bed entirely quilted in butterflies?” Or: “Why don’t you turn your old ermine coat into a bathrobe?”
Reviewing the 2001 book, Why Don’t You?, on Amazon, one besotted reader wrote: “My favorite is the suggestion to put in a private staircase from your bedroom to the library and have it carpeted with a needlepoint rug that spells out the notes to your favorite tune. My god, you’re right, I’ll do that tomorrow!!”
Vreeland also rattled the bars of the cage in the fearless, unconventional way she lived her life. Her Park Avenue living room was painted blood red, the furniture covered in brightly flowered scarlet chintz —“like a garden, but a garden in hell.” She adored dancing; in her 70′s, she was still shaking it up at Studio 54 with the Warhol gang. It is said that her last utterance on earth was: “Don’t stop the music or I’ll tell my father.”
Often described as an “ugly” woman, she carried herself with such panache that her looks became part of her inimitable personal style. Heck, the woman even had the soles of her shoes polished every morning.
And so it is with breakfast.
Right about now, the hearty oatmeal and two egg breakfasts of winter seem like a boring and predictable way to start the day. We’re at that in-between moment, when other possibilities—the luscious peaches and cherries of summer, for instance—have not yet materialized.
So, why not have ice cream for breakfast? Specifically coffee ice cream, made with five power-packed shots of espresso.
I had this addictive ice cream when Serendipity and I dined at Mi Casa, the Jose Andres restaurant at Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, last month. It was part of a special dessert the chef had prepared for us, and though there were lots of other things on the plate, I only had eyes—and taste buds—for the ice cream.
The recipe is beyond simple. Made of pure cream, a little sugar and many egg yolks, it is astoundingly rich—so rich, in fact, that you may have trouble freezing it in a conventional ice cream maker. Mine never got it beyond the “soft-serve” stage, but I must say that the stuff goes down like velvet.
Making it at home, I may also have discovered why so many commercial coffee ice creams—when you can even find them—are so bland. After the base is chilled, the coffee flavor mysteriously fades. If, like me, you crave strong-flavored ice cream, you’ll be adding even more espresso to the base. I started with two shots and added three more.
Want more flavor? Try sprinkling coarsely ground espresso-roasted beans on top, or even stir them into the base before freezing. Besides boosting the coffee quotient, they also provide a touch of pleasing bitterness to all that rich creaminess. A little shaved chocolate won’t hurt a bit.
Why not get started now so you can have strong coffee ice for your Monday breakfast?
Strong Coffee Ice Cream
(adapated from Mi Casa at Ritz Carlton Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico)
Makes about one quart
9 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 quart heavy cream plus 6 table spoons
2 shots espresso (about 1-1/2 ounces each) to begin; more as desired
Coarsely ground espresso coffee beans and shaved dark chocolate for garnish
1. In a large metal bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well blended.
2. Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium low heat, just until it begins to form tiny bubbles around the edges. Do not let it boil.
3. Pour the hot cream into a large measuring cup with a spout. Temper the eggs by very slowly pouring the cream, a little at a time, into the egg mixture, beating constantly to combine. Do not hurry the process, or you may cook the eggs.
4. When all the cream has been whisked into the eggs, place the metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened slightly, just enough to lightly cover the back of a spoon. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the simmering water. (You can also use a double boiler for this step, if you have one, which I don’t.)
5. Stir in the 2 shots of espresso and taste, adding one more shot if it’s not strong enough for you. Mix well.
6. Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer into a large bowl, to remove any bits of cooked egg. Let cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
7. Before making the ice cream, taste the base. If the coffee flavor is not strong enough, add more espresso to taste, one shot at a time. Pour the base into your ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions.
8. To serve, scoop the ice cream into bowls or glasses—as Vreeland might say, “Why don’t you use your grandmother’s crystal goblet?”—and sprinkle with cracked or coarsely ground espresso-roasted beans and shaved dark chocolate to taste.
9. Enjoy this outrageous beginning to your day!