Irish Coffee Ice Cream with Shaved Dark Chocolate and Candied Pecans

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Polish-Jewish background aside, I was raised in a house of Irish coffee. Sunday nights a few family friends usually came over to share good laughs and gargantuan steaks—and, of course, some hooch. My father is a dedicated Scotch aficionado, and many of these dinners began and ended with a wee dram. Those meal-ending sips were more often than not stirred into Irish coffees, served in specially reserved glasses and topped with snow caps of freshly whipped cream. Irish coffee epitomized indulgent nightcaps for me, so it was only a matter of time before I set out to capture it in ice cream form.

It has buttery, smoky caramel, a dash of coffee grinds, and a generous helping of whisky for good measure. It's a bracing combination, but oh does it work. First you taste the coffee, roasted and rich, with the pleasant bitterness of an actual cup of joe. Then comes the caramel to sweeten things up just a tad, melting to sweet buttery goodness. Then the whisky: the more ice cream you eat, the more you taste it. I used a couple shots of Jameson: it's rich like caramel but surprisingly light and doesn't overwhelm the other ingredients.

The mix-ins here are like those plops of whipped cream: totally unnecessary, but totally delicious. Besides reinforcing the roasted, buttery notes of this ice cream, candied pecans and shaved dark chocolate help fight the good fight of sweetness in a custard with plenty of kick. How you do mix-ins is of course up to you. I kept the pecans whole and used them as a garnish, but you can just as well chop them up and add them to the ice cream while churning. Nuts not your thing? You could do a lot worse than chocolate-covered pretzels or coffee beans.

Irish Coffee Ice Cream with Shaved Dark Chocolate and Candied Pecans

About This Recipe

Yield:8 to 10
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:50 minutes (plus an overnight chill)
Special equipment:ice cream maker


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pats
  • 3 cups half-and-half (or 1 1/2 cup each cream and whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon fine coffee grinds, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons whisky, divided (recommended: Jameson)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, about 70% cacao, shaved fine with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 cup candied pecans (without the aleppo chile)


  1. 1

    Add sugar to a three quart saucepan with enough water to just moisten sugar, about 1/4 cup. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Let caramel form and darken, rotating pot if hot spots form. When caramel has turned dark amber and starts to smoke, turn off heat and stir in butter with a wooden spoon. Caramel will bubble, so watch for steam.

  2. 2

    When butter is fully integrated, add half-and-half in a steady stream and stir to combine. Caramel will bubble high and steam. When dairy is fully incorporated, add coffee grinds, salt, and 1 tablespoon whisky. If caramel seizes up, stir it on low heat until it dissolves.

  3. 3

    In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks well until lemony in color and thickened (they will fall off whisk in ribbons). Add a ladle of caramel mixture to yolks, whisking constantly. Repeat until bottom of bowl is warm to touch. Transfer yolk mixture to pot and whisk to combine.

  4. 4

    Return pot to low heat and let custard thicken, stirring frequently with wooden spoon. Custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon and a finger swiped across leaves a clean line. Remove from heat and stir in remaining whisky. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

  5. 5

    Churn custard according to machine instructions. When ice cream is almost done, slowly sprinkle in chocolate shavings. Add pecans, roughly chopped, as well if you like (or save whole for garnish later). Transfer ice cream to airtight container and freeze for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.


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