This vanilla bean ice cream is a classic, perfected. Yes, we know, you’ve been promised this before by others. But we mean it.
Those of us who crave vanilla ice cream know that sometimes you don’t need a lot of bling. Sometimes it’s nice to just let your spoon sink into something that tastes pure as the driven snow. Okay, vanilla-enhanced snow. Indulgently rich, creamy, sigh-inducing, vanilla-enhanced snow. This vanilla bean ice cream recipe is for those times. Of course, if you wish to stir in whatever at the end–some crushed black raspberries still warm from the garden, a package of chopped peanut butter cups, a swirl of fig preserves, a handful of chopped nougat–we’re not going to stop you. Not even going to try.–Renee Schettler
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker (optional)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Remove and discard the vanilla bean from the infused milk. Gradually blend the infused milk into the yolk mixture, using a wooden spoon or a whisk, then set aside while you wash and dry the saucepan you used to infuse the milk.
- Return the milk mixture to the clean saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened sufficiently to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl and let it cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap directly against the surface of the custard to prevent a film from forming, then refrigerate until chilled through, maybe 4 to 6 hours if you’re impatient or, preferably, 24 hours if you're the sort who can tolerate a little anticipation. (Here's the thing. The longer the custard stands in the refrigerator, the more flavor will develop.)
- Stir the cream into the custard. If using an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s directions. If using your own devices, transfer the mixture into a shallow freezer-proof container, such as a roasting pan, and freeze until ice crystals form at the edges, about 2 hours. Turn it into a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk. Pour the mixture back into the container and return to the freezer. Repeat every 2 hours until the ice cream is completely frozen.
Can I vary this vanilla bean ice cream?Here's just a handful of the infinite number of variations you can conjure... Honey Ice Cream: Stir in 2 tablespoons of honey when you add the cream. Nutmeg Ice Cream: Stir in 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg when you add the cream. This is also very, very good with cinnamon. Fruit Swirl Ice Cream: Stir in a couple of spoonfuls of fig jam or strawberry compote after taking it out of the ice cream maker.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Vanilla bean is my favorite ice cream flavor. This version is pretty great. I’m a big texture person and I love the rich creamy base and the crunch of the seeds from the vanilla bean. I can see making the custard in the morning (or even the night before) and mixing in the cream and churning when we’re ready for dinner...I mean dessert. The ice cream doesn’t need to be hardened–it’s perfect to eat just out of the ice cream maker. However, I might decrease the sugar just a bit and add a pinch of salt as it’s a bit on the sweet side for me.
I LOVE ice cream. I’m not one of those fair-weather ice cream eaters, who only indulges in a cone when it’s a perfect, say, 80°F day on the boardwalk. I am a harsh critic, and, to be honest, vanilla doesn’t usually jazz me too much. I’m much more a chocolate gal. But this rich, creamy, easy-to-make ice cream is fantastic. It’s no more labor-intensive than any other ice cream and tastes just fine without superfine sugar (I didn’t even blitz my granulated sugar in the blender and the ice cream came out fine). It takes about five hours to be completely chilled. I will say, as is the case with most homemade ice creams, that it's best the day you make it. This isn’t uncommon, though.
Originally published May 25, 2012