In my humble opinion, there’s ice cream, and then there’s
The standard frozen confection is usually pretty good; you can buy it at the grocery store in tubs ranging from smaller than your hand to bigger than your head, or at the local Baskin Robbins or Dairy Queen or what-have-you (and if you’re lucky enough to live in Ontario, Canada, the local Laura Secord or Kawartha Dairy). Don’t get me wrong; they’re all reasonably delicious in their own ways. HOWEVER, I am quite confident in stating that no ice cream tastes as good as the one you make yourself.
I have posted about frozen confections before, when I made this delicious strawberry sorbet; however, this custard-based ice cream recipe is a different animal altogether. A very yummy animal. I highly recommend you try this! Please note, this recipe does require the use of an ice cream maker for best results.
Rich French Vanilla Ice Cream
The very best ice cream has very few ingredients in it; this French Vanilla ice cream is the richest-tasting vanilla I have ever had or made. Don’t be concerned by the presence of (so many) egg yolks in this recipe; they are what give this recipe its rich mouth-feel, and they are cooked out to a safe temperature over a bain-marie (water bath).
- 2 ½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Pour cream and milk into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ¾ cup sugar. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean with the tip of a small knife into pan; add bean to pan as well. Stir and heat until steam rises from milk mixture and small bubbles begin to form along edges; do not let it come to a boil. Remove mixture from heat; cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place yolks, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and salt into a large bowl that will fit over a medium saucepan containing about 1 inch of water without touching the surface (definition: bain-marie). Off heat (important!), beat the yolk mixture with a whisk until it has tripled in volume and can hold a ribbon on the surface for a couple of seconds.
Remove vanilla bean pod from milk mixture and slowly pour 1 cup into yolk mixture while whipping yolk mixture continuously; (definition: tempering), so it doesn’t curdle. Add the remaining milk/cream mixture in a slow stream, mixing to combine thoroughly. Meanwhile, turn heat on under saucepan containing water until boiling, then turn heat down to simmer and place bowl with combined yolk mixture on top. Heat yolk mixture, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and a thermometer registers 180˚F; this should take 10-12 minutes. Congratulations; you have now made vanilla bean custard!
Carefully set bowl in an ice-water bath. Let mixture cool completely, stirring often. Remove from water bath, place plastic wrap directly over custard (touching the surface of the mixture to avoid forming a “skin”), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Serve immediately if you prefer soft-serve style ice cream, or unmould into an airtight container and freeze for a minimum of 1 hour to harden.
- If you accidentally curdled your egg yolk mixture, you may still be able to save it; strain the mix through a fine-mesh sieve and whisk the remaining liquid vigorously.
- The colder your finished custard is, the better your finished ice cream will come out from the ice cream maker. It will also take less time to make!
- You can replace the vanilla bean with other flavourings of your choosing; try maple, butterscotch, rum raisin, cherry, orange creamsicle, chocolate, or even chocolate mint! Add any desired “pieces” or chunks to the final minutes of mixing time in the ice cream maker.
Good luck, and as always, send me links to your own ice cream making successes!