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Coffee Bavarian

Coffee Bavarian
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

My stepmother used to make a melt-in-your-mouth coffee Bavarian. I remember her gingerly tipping it out of the mold and praying it would keep its shape. I don't lose sleep over the structural integrity of Bavarians. I just scoop it out of whatever container it's in and mindlessly devour it. (Note: Gelatin is tricky to work with, so work quickly but carefully. Whatever you do, don't shock it with cold, or it'll set into clumps instantly. Ease it into the right temperature. Quickly.)

Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons powdered gelatin

1/2 cup water

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups creme anglaise (recipe follows)

Coffee Creme Anglaise

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole or 2 percent milk

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

5/8 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks

For The Coffee Creme Anglaise

Dissolve the espresso powder in the milk. Then combine the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, beat the yolks by hand. Then beat about 1/3 of the simmering milk mixture into the yolks. Return this yolk mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture and cook gently, whisking, for about 30 seconds, until thickened. Remove from heat. Strain into a second bowl.

For The Bavarian

Place the gelatin in a small metal bowl with the water and stir to combine. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and heat until the gelatin dissolves.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by half-filling a large mixing bowl with cold water, then adding a dozen ice cubes. If you don't have a large bowl, you can stopper the kitchen sink and make the ice bath there.

Stir the dissolved gelatin into the creme anglaise and cool over an ice bath, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken. (If you don't stir constantly, you may get a thick layer of gel on the bottom.) Remove from the ice bath when the custard is room temperature or just a little cooler.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft peaks. Blend one-quarter of the whipped cream into the thickened creme anglaise. Then fold this mixture into the remainder of the whipped cream.

Pour into molds or a decorative serving container (say, a cut-glass bowl or a large enamel ramekin), cover and refrigerate until set.

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