It’s no secret that I’m a fiend for this cold, creamy dessert. I used to tell people, sorry, I can’t hang out. I have a date with Ben… and Jerry.
Ice cream, to me, is like fuel to a vehicle – I take it by the gallon. On more than one occasion I’ve eaten myself into a chill so bad I needed a mountain of blankets to keep me warm. The
Boyfriend Fiancé can attest.
Yes, you heard me right.
Boyfriend Fiancé and I first met, it was over a mutual love of ice cream. I proclaimed how much I adored the cold confection, and he said “You know, I make pretty good ice cream.”
I couldn’t contain myself, and burst out with an emphatic “Oh my gosh – will you marry me?”
The rest is history. Okay, that’s not entirely true… but his ice cream was good, and for the next seven months we jokingly referred to each other as ‘ice cream’ husband and wife.
That was July of 2010, in the swelter of summer, in our first year of friendship. Now, two years later, we’re taking the ‘ice cream’ off the ‘husband and wife’. But don’t worry, we aren’t getting rid of it all-together…
Of all the flavors of all the ice creams of all the world, I cannot even begin to tell you my favorites. Since this will be my first ice cream recipe here on the blog, I thought I should start with the basics. Armed with a good vanilla crème anglaise, a person can do just about anything.
Somehow, vanilla has become synonymous with ‘plain’, ‘ordinary’, and ‘bland’… don’t be mistaken, here – vanilla is no shy flavor! This is some of the boldest, richest vanilla ice cream you will ever make. Don’t underestimate the power of the vanilla bean.
The finished flavor of your ice cream will vary depending on the type of bean you choose – from the light and floral Tahitian vanilla, to the bold Bourbon, the rich and moody Mexican, or the Ugandan, Indonesian, or Tonga beans… each possesses its own personality, and the difference is definitely noticeable.
The Fiancé’s favorite is Tahitian, so that was the extract I chose here. The bean itself is Bourbon – a bolder, deeper vanilla, to bring a little richness to the party. Use what you like, or the best that’s available to you. Be sure to use real, pure vanilla extract here, as the alcohol helps to bring out the flavors. This is no place to use the cheap stuff.
More than just the vanilla, the secret to this ice cream lies in the quality of each ingredient. In the cleanest and mostly simple things, this is most important; it is the local, farm-raised eggs that give this ice cream its lightly golden hue, and the fresh, unprocessed dairy that lends incomparable flavor and lingering creaminess.
Of course, all this nit-picking isn’t necessary to make a good ice cream, but using the freshest ingredients available to you will result in the best flavor. Remember, you can buy good ice cream in the store, so if you’re making it yourself why not make it great?
Very Vanilla Ice Cream
(Adapted from the lord of ice cream himself, David Lebovitz, and also from The Fiancé)
1 cup (250ml) whole milk*
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream (or double cream)*
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
5-6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar**)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
*For a slightly lighter ice cream, you can change these amounts to 1.5 cups milk to 1.5 cups cream, or replace the cream with half-and-half. Note that this will affect the flavor and consistency of the finished product.
**Used vanilla bean pods can be washed, dried, and added to a bin of granulated sugar. Keep refilling with more sugar and fresh bean bods for an on-going supply of vanilla sugar.
In a sauce pan, combine the milk and cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and add the seeds and pod to the pot. Add a small pinch of salt, and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally until hot – you want the milk to be steaming, but not boiling. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
When the cream mixture has finished steeping, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and smooth.
Rewarm the cream mixture over medium heat (to about 125-135 degrees F.). Very slowly and gradually, pour (or ladle) the milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Be sure to temper the yolks slowly, and keep them in constant motion to prevent them from scrambling. Once about half of the cream is added, you can begin to pour in a slow steady stream, continuing to whisk all the while.
Return the cream and egg mixture to the sauce pan, and place over low to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until the custard thickens to coat the back of your utensil (usually when it reaches around 175-180 degrees F.). Do not let the mixture boil!
While stirring, be sure to continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the yolks from becoming lumpy.
Strain the custard into a bowl (glass, metal, or ceramic are best) set over a larger bowl full of ice. Straining the custard acts as a safeguard against any lumps or bits of untempered egg. Put the vanilla bean back into the custard after straining.
Stir the custard over the ice bath until cool, and add the vanilla extract. Cover, and refrigerate until completely chilled, or overnight.
Remove the vanilla bean pod (and rinse, dry, and add it to a bin of sugar if you like) and freeze the crème anglaise in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve immediately for a soft-serve consistency, or pour into a lidded, chill-proof container and freeze until firm.
Simple vanilla ice cream is the perfect start to many other flavors – in the last minutes of churning, there is no end to the things that could be added. Stay tuned for more ice cream recipes!
What’s your favorite flavor? Tell me in the comments below!