As a kid, I never much cared for vanilla ice cream. I always found it to be kind of plain and boring, and would opt for the more adventurous options with lots of mix-ins. That’s because I had never had the good stuff. The real stuff. The home made stuff. Since I invested in my own ice cream maker a few years ago, I rarely buy ice cream at the store anymore. This week in my local grocery delivery, I got some fresh eggs, cream, and milk. The ingredients were practically begging me to make ice cream.
Ice creams fall into two main categories: French style or Philadelphia style. Philadelphia style ice cream is easier and quicker to make, and uses heavy cream as a base. French style ice creams are custard based, and contain cooked egg yolks. They are a little bit more labor intensive and require more cooking prowess. An instant read thermometer helps in the process of making custard based ice creams.
I’ve made both types, but with the vanilla, the custard based ice cream really is worth the extra effort. It’s so creamy and delicious, I could eat it by the bowlful. It also tastes great with some chocolate syrup, sandwiched between some chocolate chip cookies, or served atop a warm brownie. In fact, there aren’t too many desserts that aren’t enhanced by a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.In a saucepan, heat the milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar, and salt over medium heat until dissolved. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean, and add the seeds as well as the bean to the heated mixture. Cover, remove from heat, and set aside for one hour to infuse.
2. Pour the remaining cup of cream in a large metal bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add a little bit of the warm milk and sugar mixture to temper the eggs. Slowly add the tempered eggs into the saucepan, whisking the entire time.
3. Cook over medium heat, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan with a heat proof spatula, until the mixture gets thick. You can tell it’s done cooking when it will coat the back of a spoon. If you have an instant read thermometer, it should read between 170-175 degrees fahrenheit.
4. Pour the custard through a strainer into the metal bowl with the cream and stir together. In case the custard got too hot and you ended up with a few scrambled eggs, this will strain them out. Put the metal bowl over a bowl filled with ice water, and cool over the ice bath. Add the vanilla bean and vanilla extract.
5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, preferable overnight.
6. Freeze the chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note: Always use full fat heavy cream and whole milk. Substituting low or non-fat varieties will result in an icy texture. I learned this the hard way.
Another note: Grocery store vanilla beans can be expensive. I’ve had better luck finding reasonably priced vanilla beans on Amazon or even eBay.