I debated mentioning this for fear of jinxing myself, but what the heck. This is my diary of sorts, and where better to share stories. I managed to ignore my masters thesis for months after the initial push, but after five straight months of working, the paper is complete and I’ve scheduled the oral defense. Next week. Next week! Sweet mercy me.

But all is well. How is that? Because I’ve got the chores under control. All of our Christmas “thank you” cards are sent. The garden is springing to life in today’s rain. I have the most wonderful, supporting boyfriend, and David Lebovitz’s coffee vanilla custard is waiting in the freezer for dessert.

If you have an iron-clad memory, you might recall that we made this custard once before, during his parents’ visit It was a hit then, it’s a hit again. This time we used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, which does produce a different — yet still kick butt — flavor. We also opted for decaf coffee beans this time to save us from late-night jitters. And ohhhh if this isn’t one of the best ice creams we’ve ever made, or eaten. It’s sinfully rich and creamy. The perfect thing to look forward to all day long.

Don’t waste a drop of this… get in there with a straw!

Coffee Vanilla Custard [makes 1 quart]

Printable recipe

We recommend decaf coffee beans if you plan to eat this as dessert before bed; otherwise you’ll be up all night! Unless you’re into that sort of thing…

1 1/2 c whole milk

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c whole coffee beans

pinch of salt

1 1/2 c heavy cream

5 egg yolks

1/4 t vanilla extract, or seeds from one vanilla bean, pod reserved

1/2 c semisweet or dark chocolate, chopped [optional]

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 c cream until steamy, but not boiling. Cover with a lid, remove from heat and steep for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours at room temperature [longer steeping allows the flavors to meld better].

Pour the remaining 1 c cream into a medium bowl over ice. Set a strainer over the bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.

Reheat the milk mixture over medium heat until hot and steamy, but again, not boiling. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and slowly pour the heated milk mixture with the beans into the yolks while constantly whisking to avoid cooking the eggs. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and stir constantly, scraping the bottom and corners of the pot, until the mixture reaches nappe stage [i.e., liquid coats the back of a spoon], about 10 minutes.

Remove the bowl of cream and sieve from the refrigerator. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream, pressing the coffee beans to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla extract or seeds, and stir until cool. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator [overnight is best for the smoothest ice cream] and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Stir in the chopped chocolate, if using, and place in freezer to freeze — it should be set up but still silky smooth like soft-serve.

Adapted slightly from The Perfect Scoop