Confession: vanilla ice-cream is my favorite dessert. When I was little, my father used to come home at the end of a long workweek with a massive bucket of ice-cream in one hand, and if I were lucky, there was a little extra something for me in the other. I remember one time in particular, when he brought home a gallon of his favorite flavor – cherry swirl. As he put it on the kitchen counter, out came a small bag from behind his back. In it was the softest stuffed animal I had ever laid my three-year old eyes on! I will always remember the little pink dog with floppy blue ears who was just big enough for me to snuggle with. I named him Charlie.
If memory serves me correctly, Charlie stayed with me throughout my childhood, as did my love of ice-cream. Maybe it’s because of its’ novelty in our freezer signified a special occasion, or maybe it was just that my sweet tooth was cultivated a little too early. Whatever the reason, my love of all things frozen, creamy, sweet has never gone away…
I’m a firm believer that most things taste better when made from scratch, and that especially holds true when it comes to ice-cream. I will challenge any assumption that it’s a hard dessert to make!
A simple custard that’s been cooked, strained, and churned until frozen, there are a couple of gadgets you’ll need to help ease you through the process. A candy thermometer and ice-cream maker, both of which can be found in most kitchen supply stores, don’t cost a fortune and will save you a lot of time and guesswork. I’ve been using an ice-cream machine with a freezable bowl for years. The only drawback is that you can only make one batch at a time. You can certainly invest a little more money and get one with a built in chiller if you have the counter space for it. Either machine will work and give you a great result.
This recipe tastes best the day that it’s made, although it will last up to a week stored in the freezer in an airtight container. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes (or longer depending on how frozen it is) before serving.
You will need:
- An ice-cream maker
- A candy thermometer
- A strainer (the finer the holes in the strainer, the better)
- Two large bowls, one to fill with ice, and one to put on top
- Six egg yolks
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out with the back of a knife
- Ice for cooing down pre-frozen ice-cream
Fill a large bowl or your kitchen sink with ice. Place a bowl large enough to accommodate your ice-cream over the ice. Place a strainer over the bowl.
Heat milk, cream, half your sugar, salt and vanilla pod (seeds and pod) in a pot. This must be heated until scalding – just under the boiling point. Remove from heat, put a lid on your pot while you get on with the egg yolk mixture.
With a handheld or standing mixture, start whisking your egg yolks. Gradually add the remaining sugar, and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to develop volume. This will take about five minutes.
Remove about one cup of the milk/cream from your pot and pour it into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk quickly until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and cream – this is your custard. Stir constantly over medium heat until your mixture begins to thicken. It’s at this point you must carefully watch your thermometer. When it reads 170 degrees F, remove the custard from heat. Immediately pour it through the strainer into your chilled bowl. Don’t worry if you have little bits of scrambled egg at the bottom of the bowl, this will be removed once you strain it.
Let your ice-cream base cool completely before pouring it into an airtight container and refrigerating for six hours or overnight.
Pour the custard into your ice-cream machine and churn until frozen. Note that the time it takes to freeze depends on what machine you use (typically, mine takes about 25 minutes). Also, if the receptacle in your ice-cream machine is small, you might need to churn your custard in two batches.
And there you go…homemade vanilla ice-cream ready to scoop, savor, and devour! Serve as soon as it is churned or freeze until ready to eat.