Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

I love pink peppercorns. They have an amazing flavour – peppery, fruity, complex, and we thought they’d make a great ice cream. Interestingly, pink peppercorns are not actually peppercorns, but rather dried berries from the Baies rose plant. They come from Madagascar, where many great things are grown.

This ice cream is spicy, and frankly it’s a bit confusing on the palate. I think it’s because of the complexity of flavour that reminds one of something and yet is a bit elusive. I’ll give the recipe here, but it’s a bit of a work in progress. We’re thinking of doing another version with strawberry, and I’ll let you know how we get on!



• 120g sugar
• 5 egg yolks
• 220 ml cream
• 220 ml milk
• 2 teaspoons ground pink peppercorn

What to do:

1. Beat the sugar and egg yolks and until it thickens and lightens in colour.
2. Bring the milk to a low simmer.
3. Beat the milk into the egg/sugar mixture in a slow stream.
4. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat.
5. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 65-70C) and just coats the back of a spoon. Don’t over-heat, though, because at around 76C you will scramble the eggs!
6. Immediately remove from the heat.
7. Allow to cool.
8. Stir in the peppercorns.
9. Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (you should have soft peaks – don’t over-whip).
10. Fold (gently stir) in the custard.
11. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine.
You can also just cover and place in the freezer, stirring every few hours.

Yield: 8 servings


1. It’s hard to say how spicy your peppercorns would be, so you might need to add more or less!

2. To pasteurise the eggs, heat the custard to 73C and maintain that temperature for at least 5 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer, though, and keep stirring! If the custard goes any higher than 76C, the eggs will scramble. Immediately cover and place in the freezer until cool.

Technorati tags: 

Happy Hunting, Ivan

Today, Ivan, the ice cream dog, passed away. He was a huge part of our lives, especially Sean & Wiebke, Conor & Una. Ivan was a big part of Murphys Ice Cream as well, because in the early days he lay across the doorway of our Dingle shop, keeping an eye on us and forcing customers to stumble over him to come in for an ice cream or coffee. They didn’t seem to mind, and he made a big impression.

Ivan has been sick for a while and by the end could barely lift his head or recognise me. That’s not how I will remember him, though. I’ll remember Ivan for the majestic dog he was, chasing sticks on Ventry beach and holding court on Strand Street, convincing tourists he hadn’t been fed in a month and deserved the last few bites of their cones.

RIP. We’ll miss you terribly!

Coffee Heresy: Americano Our Way

Before I go any further, I might suggest that unless you’re a coffee geek, you might skip this post, since you’ll most likely find it boring!

Anyway, some years ago, my brother was frustrated by the quality of the americanos in our shops. Basically, there are two ways people make americanos – one is more traditional – to add a single or double shot of espresso to a cup of hot water (or else add hot water to an espresso).  The second way is how most cafes do it in this country – simply run a normal espresso long enough to fill a small coffee cup.

From a taste perspective, we’ve never really been happy with either method. We’ve always preferred filter coffee or caffetiere as a way to make a good drinking coffee, but unfortunately, that’s not what most of our customers want. They want americanos, and we’ve found it quite futile to convince them otherwise. So, we spent years playing with the americano, and never made a coffee we truly liked.

Then, one day Sean wondered what would happen if he threw out general wisdom and tried another method – to grind the coffee much coarser and run a very long shot through the espresso machine, long enough to fill a small coffee cup, using only taste as a guide to decide the grind setting. Of course a course grind means the shot runs very quickly, and any coffee guru who has seen us doing this has been horrified. “Your coffee is gushing,” they would gasp. “That is not a proper americano!”

However, our customers preferred their americanos made our heretical way (we’ve done numerous taste tests), so we persevered, buying in second grinders just for americanos. Although we still prefer filter coffee and caffetieres, we agree with our customers that our method makes a better tasting americano than the traditional method.

Recently, Colin over at 3FE gave us a loan of his coffee refractometer, and I thought it would be interesting to test how our way of making an americano falls in terms of the generally accepted levels of extractions and solids.

Here’s what I discovered:

Interestingly, Sean’s method (the top one) is just about bang on the money, as far as a cup of coffee goes, and a double shot with hot water in a small cup (the second one) has extraction levels that are too low and solid content that is too high. (I know it’s a small dose that we use for this particular espresso bean, but I assure you that the extraction levels and solid contents are in an acceptable range).

Anyway, taste has always been the driving factor with us, even if it means breaking the rules. What I find interesting is that the results of this method not only taste good but also fit into current orthodoxy in terms of extraction. We’ll see if the coffee experts remain horrified…

Technorati tags: 

The Guardian on Our Biodynamic Coffee Bean

I came across this article on the farmers who supply our coffee bean (via Has Bean – the only certified Biodynamic roaster in these parts) in the Observer magazine of The Guardian. Pretty cool!

(Photo from the Guardian)

Technorati tags: