Crema di Caffè

I’m back! The aforementioned Spanish test is over (más dificil than I expected, to be honest) but I won’t know the results for a bit, meaning I can sit back and relax for now. I have an exciting week ahead of me – I’m headed to the beach Saturday, meeting up with two of my fellow Cucina Conversations bloggers Sunday, and then headed to London next week (post to follow). And as if this weren't all exciting enough -- I have crema di caffè for you, too. 

So! You might be familiar with crema di caffè if you've spent some time in Italy, but if not I'd guess it's pretty much off your radar. Let me explain: crema di caffè (translated: coffee cream) can sort of be described as (extra soft) soft serve coffee ice cream, which is served swirled into little cups and eaten with a spoon. You'll find it at almost every bar here -- it'll be the one being churned about hypnotically in it's transparent machine -- and it is a true life-saver on a hot summer day. I was late to the crema di caffè game, never even noticing it on my stops for coffee (I'm a cappuccino girl myself) until a friend of mine ordered it from our workplace bar a few years ago. From then on, I was hooked; it was icy cold, not too sweet, a perfect afternoon snack or finish to lunch, and I only regretted not having paid it more attention sooner.

But just as quickly as I fell for crema di caffè, I learned something else: crema di caffè could be disappointing. Oh sure, there were a few good bars where I found it was everything it set out to be -- rich, ice cream-y, deeply coffee flavored -- but more often than not, it was an after thought, heavy on the ice and light on the flavor, with a grainy texture. I became a bit disillusioned; crema di caffè was as likely to be spot on as it was to be below-average, a bit of a hit-or-miss kind as far as afternoon pick-me-ups go. After a particularly disappointing one last week (non sa di niente! declared my friend Irene i.e, this tastes like nothing) I began to wonder if this wasn't a matter (or recipe) best taken into my own hands. I'm no stranger to making the usually-store-bought in my own kitchen  -- bagels, pizza, pie crust-- and figured crema di caffè might be better off made at home, from scratch, by yours truly. 

And, well, not to brag here or anything, but I was 100% right. This was crema di caffè at its very best, the best crema di caffè I've ever had, a crema di caffè good enough to make up for all the other lousy ones. It was smooth (no ice or sugar grains here!) and rich (I <3 Heavy Cream) intensely coffee-flavored, made even more special with the addition of a little hazelnutty Nutella. It was downright refreshing, and a little fancier than you average crema di caffè when dusted with a cocoa powder and garnished with a few coffee beans. Bonus: as someone who has not yet managed to bring her hefty ice cream maker (attachment and corresponding Kitchen Aid) from the U.S to Rome, this dessert is a true consolation, a frozen treat (like these popsicles and this semifreddo, too) that requires no fancy equipment and comes together with minimal effort and time. Really, I can't think of one reason why you shouldn't make this. 

A couple of notes: This is not exactly something you can make in advance, as the longer the crema is in the fridge, the more frozen it becomes, naturally. It’s pretty good frozen – kind of like ice cream! – but not exactly what you’re going here, so think of it as a quick and easy (and oh-so-delicious) dessert that should be eaten within an hour or two of freezing -- it should be pourable, not scoopable.  This is also a great use for any leftover coffee you have hanging around from the morning. 

Looking for more sweet frozen treats this Summer? I've got this Pistachio Semifreddo, these Butterscotch Pudding Pops, these Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles, these Nutella Banana Fudge Pops, and this Chocolate Gelato. For more coffee flavored treats, I've got this Cappuccino Cake. 

Recipe barely adapted from

1/3 cup (79ml) room temperature or cold coffee
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) sugar
2 tablespoons Nutella
1 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy cream 
Coffee beans (ideally chocolate covered) or cocoa powder for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together the coffee, sugar, and Nutella. Put in the fridge until cold. 
Next, in a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with electric beaters until it stars to thicken. As you beat the cream, pour in the coffee mixture in a slow and steady stream, and beat until the cream holds very soft peaks and everything is well combined.
 Scrape the coffee/cream mixture into a tupperware container, cover, and put in the freezer for an hour. Once the hour is up, divide up your crema di caffe' into four individual serving glasses and enjoy, dusted with some cocoa powder and garnished with some cocoa beans.