Kahlua Ice Cream With Dulce de Leche and Espresso Beans 12.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jul 9, 2019

This ice cream taps into the spirit of a typical coffee shop drink, but with a decidedly evening vibe thanks to the addition of Kahlúa. The coffee liqueur infuses the base, while chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans and pockets of dulce de leche contribute different textures and pops of flavor.

We've given a range for the amount of liqueur. The full 1/4 cup made for a powerful though pleasant boozy flavor and a softer-setting ice cream. Even if you go for the lesser amount, you'll still taste the Kahlúa coming through. If you don't want the alcohol, try swapping in (cooled) strong brewed coffee or espresso.

Don't be tempted to leave out the corn syrup. It's less sweet than granulated sugar and keeps the churned ice cream from getting icy.

Make Ahead: The ice cream base needs to chill overnight in the refrigerator or, if you are using an ice-water bath (see NOTE, below), at least an hour on the counter. The churned ice cream needs at least 4 hours to set in the freezer.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings; makes 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur, such as Kahlua (see headnote; may substitute strongly brewed/cooled coffee or espresso)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans, coarsely chopped
  • Heaping 1/2 cup dulce de leche (half of one 13.4-ounce can)

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Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to form a smooth slurry.

Whisk together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large (4-quart) saucepan, over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not boil over; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry; return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened, with a consistency a little thicker than heavy cream. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot-milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Cover the bowl; refrigerate it until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight. After the base has been chilled, whisk in the Kahlúa until thoroughly incorporated.

When you are ready to churn, assemble your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions and turn it on. Pour in the chilled ice cream base and spin until it's thick and creamy -- about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about a fourth of the espresso beans onto the bottom of your final storage container. Spray a small disher (scoop, or two tableware spoons) with cooking oil spray, in order to dollop small mounds (about 1-teaspoon size) of the dulce de leche on the bottom of the container as well.

Pack the ice cream into the storage container, alternating it with additional layers of the espresso beans and dulce de leche, ending with a layer of the add-ins on top; do not stir (to retain the layering). Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

NOTE: To chill the base mixture faster, pour it into a gallon-size resealable zip-top bag and seal. Submerge the sealed bag in an ice-water bath in a large bowl. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, at least 1 hour.

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Recipe Source

From Voraciously lead writer Becky Krystal; ice cream base adapted from "Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts" by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan, 2014).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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