Reverse affogato: hot ice-cream with iced coffee

What can I say? This is hot ice-cream that melts as it cools, and melts a bit faster if you pour, say, iced espresso over it. Hence, reverse affogato. Oh the marvellous wonders of chemistry!

The ice-cream’s rather unorthodox behaviour is courtesy of methylcellulose, a derivative of cellulose that acts as a thickener or gelling agent at cool temperatures (like at fridge temperature), solidifies at hot temperatures (like at about scalding, so around 60°C and above), and is soft in between (like at room temperature). So making the ice-cream involves poaching scoops of it in near-boiling water for a couple of minutes to let them solidify. Ah, poached and ice-cream: words that were never meant to go together, at least without the addition of cannot be.

The recipe I used for this was from Ideas In Food via Khymos. It’s a great proof of concept, from my point of view — I’m just personally not sold on its flavour (ice-cream made from cream cheese and yoghurt has a remarkable tendency to taste like cream cheese and yoghurt). It has its place of course (like when you want your ice-cream to taste remarkably like cream cheese and yoghurt), but I want to make something that is essentially indistinguishable from plain vanilla ice-cream except for its temperature.

So I’m working on my own recipe at the moment, and now it is only a matter of time…

  11 comments for “Reverse affogato: hot ice-cream with iced coffee

  1. August 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Wow, this is really wild! I look forward to seeing the recipe that YOU come up with.

    • Jess
      August 25, 2010 at 8:51 am

      Give me a few days and hopefully I will produce a successful recipe! :)

  2. August 25, 2010 at 4:01 am

    This is so cool! Is there any reason why you couldn’t use a regular vanilla ice cream recipe? I guess cream cheese and yogurt are thicker than an unfrozen custard or unfrozen sweetened cream, but they are mixed with water, so maybe it evens out.

    Where do you get the methylcellulose?

    • Jess
      August 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Yeah I’m currently experimenting to find out why I can’t use a regular vanilla ice cream recipe. I’m starting to think that using yoghurt and cream cheese was a purposeful choice in flavour, because I can’t imagine many other limitations that would force the use of such a combination, apart from consistency. The consistency is certainly a factor, as the cream cheese + yoghurt combination is definitely thicker than your standard liquid ice cream. I’m not sure if there’s an upper limit on how much methylcellulose I need to use to make it set properly, like maybe if the liquid’s too thin and I add a heap of methylcellulose, then it might start to taste too much of methylcellulose? (Methylcellulose somewhat unsurprisingly tastes kind of woody!) I’m trying some different consistencies and different concentrations of methylcellulose at the moment and we shall see what happens! The good news is that I’ve come up with a recipe that tastes pretty much identical to vanilla ice cream (but without the fuss of having to use heat and eggs to make a custard-like mixture), and now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get it to set correctly when poached. Hurrah!

      The methylcellulose I use is called Metil from the Texturas range, which I just picked up from a gourmet food stockist. It seems to have slightly different properties from the methocel used in the recipe I linked to, but it seemed to work in pretty much the same quantities so it seems like a viable substitute for methocel, at least in this recipe.

  3. August 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I am SO IN. Affogatos have become my go-to restaurant dessert, so I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’m thinking red velvent cake ice cream? ;)

  4. August 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    You are taking the food science world by storm! Love this recipe. I’ve never had an affogato before but it sounds fantastic. You have to love something that is an oxymoron in and of itself.

    • Jess
      August 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Yeah I was wondering if I should explain what an affogato is. They’re pretty popular as a dessert here in Australia. My recent travels have demonstrated to me that very few people seem to take coffee quite as seriously as Australians and Italians, heh. And presumably the Australian coffee culture is only as enormous as it is because of the large number of Italian immigrants who moved here after WWII. Strange that when I was in NYC, despite its not-insignificant Italian history/population, the type of coffee I’m used to (made by a trained barista using something like this) was incredibly difficult to find. We walked all over Manhattan and ended up finding a total of about three places that gave us the kind of coffee we were after. Those places all also offered drip filter coffee — I think the only place in Australia that has drip filter coffee these days is like… KFC. Even McDonald’s has McCafes with cappuccinos, cafe lattes, flat whites, macchiatos etc. I had no idea Australians were so fussy about coffee!

  5. August 31, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    What a fascinating creation. I’d be very curious to taste it and I love the taste of both cream cheese and yogurt (though perhaps not when I’m expecting ice cream). Please do keep us posted on your further experimentation with this.

  6. September 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    It sounds DIVINE. Cant wait for the recipe….

    • September 2, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      O, and I’ve seen affogatos, but I’ve never actually tried one.

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