Coffee and sugar are an inseparable pair to me. Not to say I take sugar in my coffee; truth is, I do not drink coffee (tea please!) and only take coffee in sugary treats: mocha cakes, coffee spiked chocolate, macchiato soy milk, café noir biscuits, … You name it, as long as it caters to my sweet tooth. Coffee and sugar established their – at least to me – crucial palatal partnership during my early childhood.
When growing up, I did have breakfast with a cup of coffee every now and then. Not to drink, but to dunk my speculoos biscuits in. A delicate operation, demanding experience, as the cookie needed to absorb the exact right amount of liquid that would make it spreadable on my slice of bread. One drop too many, and the completely saturated biscuit would crumble and dissolve, and sink to the bottom of the coffee cup as one irretrievable mash, only to be discarded in the sink at the end of the meal. But with the right instinctive feel, you ended up with a delicacy on your bread.
Entire generations of Belgian children must have grown up having coffee-infused speculoos sandwiches for breakfast. But then came the year 2006 and a reality tv show called De Bedenkers (The Inventors) in which contestants could showcase their inventions to a jury. Obviously meeting some need for ready-made spreadable cookie paste, two participants independently presented a recipe for ‘speculoos paste’. What ensued is quite an intriguing story containing all ingredients for drama, making headlines in Belgian newspapers between 2006 and 2011, the summary of which you can read in this article on the cookie butter patent wars. It’s about competition, envy, lawsuits, a 180-degree plot twist, an elderly innocent blogging lady as ‘dea ex machina’ claiming to be the ‘real’ inventor (of something widely known…) and a multiply sold and eventually destroyed patent. But essentially that tv programme was the starting point for speculoos paste to surge into the ranks of both edible and non-edible eminent exported Belgian inventions, conquering the world and as such rubbing shoulders with
French fries, waffles, Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive, pralines, chocolate bars and chocolate spread. Some of these better for one’s BMI (also a Belgian invention) than others. The US demand is apparently so high an American production line is being set up. It should be functional in 2019.
Since the ‘invention’ and huge success of speculoos paste, this particular biscuit has slipped into plenty other food items, from liquor (speculoosjenever), over chocolate, to ice cream. Our custom cookie is now more custom than ever. Yet I still only buy the plain biscuits, mainly to use them for layering in freshly made vanilla pudding (a treat!). Never the speculoos paste (its caloric content being high, its nutritional value being zero), and never speculoos ice cream, as the store version is not vegan anyhow. Luckily speculoos ice cream is easy to make, and since speculoos is so strongly linked to coffee (there is a good reason why Lotus branded them Biscoff in the US), this weekend I decided to upgrade my ‘plain’ speculoos ice cream to mocha-speculoos ice cream. With a hint of chocolate, because coffee and chocolate are a good match too. Chocolate is a good match with just about anything, though perhaps not with Brussels sprouts (except as a prank).
The children and the husband were happy with this new experiment, and I doubly so, for not only was the taste just right and exactly as expected, the texture of the ice cream confirmed my suspicions (see my recent blog post on double cherry ice cream) that syrup is better suited for ice cream making than granulated (cane) sugar.
mocha-speculoos ice cream
- 160 ml (2/3 cup) strong coffee
- 375 ml (1 1/2 cup) coconut milk
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) agave syrup
- 75 g really finely ground speculoos biscuits, the equivalent of about 8 biscuits (I used a wholegrain variety, which I think tastes best)
- 25 g coarsely crushed speculoos biscuits, so roughly 2 or 3
- a handful of chocolate slivers/crushed chocolate callets and/or chocolate cookie crumbs [I used both. I started by adding chocolate, but then I remembered the bag with chocolate chocolate chip cookies that got crushed during a day out earlier that week, and decided to throw them in as well.]
- Mix the coffee, coconut milk, coconut milk, agave syrup and the finely ground speculoos biscuits and pour the mixture into your ice cream maker.
- Churn according to the directions of your ice cream maker (in mine it takes approximately 30-40 minutes)
- Before removing the ice cream from the ice cream maker, add in the chocolate (chip crumbs) and the speculoos crumbs
- Transfer to a container and let sit in the freezer for 3 more hours