Monday, April 2, 2012

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream

Happy birthday to me!  My man is a smart one.  When I birthday rolled around a while back, not only had he been paying attention to my endless wish list of kitchen gadgets, he chose the ones that would benefit him and our friends the most.  Well, truth be told, any kitchen gadget is the gift that keeps on giving in our household.  If you show up, you are likely to be fed...

Enter the ice cream maker.

I pondered for quite some time about which concoction to tackle first.  So many wonderful ice creams, sorbets, gelatos and yogurts danced in my head.  And with our weather turning to summer in no time flat, chilly treats are certainly called for.

It seems only proper that the inaugural scoop be a classic vanilla.

David Lebovitz has many a wonderful recipe.  I felt confident heading to him for advice after perusing the little recipe book that came with the maker.  But I was stymied to see so much egg added to what he called an ice cream.  Call me a purist.  Call me a snob.  I adore custards and ice creams equally, but I was raised by a woman who took great pride in being a car hop at Zarder's in Milwaukee.  We had the differences between custard and ice cream drilled into us at a very young age...

So no egg.  Just cream, whole milk, sugar and vanilla.  I did follow Lebovitz's advice about using both vanilla bean and vanilla extract.

adapted from the Cuisinart recipe book included with the maker
 and David Lebovitz's classic vanilla ice cream recipe (sans egg)

yields about 5 cups

The Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup  sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

The Process:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the whole milk, salt and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Bring to a simmer, cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

After one hour, remove the vanilla pods* from the steeped milk.  Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

To make the ice cream, set up the ice cream maker, add the cream mixture and prepare according to the manufacturers instructions.  Once the ice cream reaches a soft serve consistency (about 20-30 minutes in my ice cream maker) transfer the mixture to a 5-6 cup container and freeze for an additional 2 hours. 

*keep the pods for other uses.  Rinse the pods of the cream mixture and allow them to dry out completely. Store in an air tight container to use in other recipe later on.  Or bury the pods in a jar of granulated sugar to impart a wonderful vanilla essence to the sugar.  Use the sugar in future baking to add an extra hint of vanilla to cookies, cakes and more.   They may also be submerged in a high proof flavorless alcohol (a high quality vodka or everclear) to create a vanilla extract.  The flavor will not be as potent as that of a whole bean, seeds still intact...but even the pod will impart a large amount of flavor to the alcohol.  Allow to sit for at least two weeks, shaking every few days, before use.  Use as you would regular vanilla extract.

The Review:
Breyer's has long been my favorite provider of classic ice cream flavors.  This was incredibly close to that pure ice cream ideal.  It was not as rich, creamy or heavy as the various custard varieties out there.  Nor was this ice cream lighter than air as some of the more adulterated varieties of ice cream (but I'm also not keen on adding hfcs, guar gun, carrageenan, mono and diglycerides or any other number of unpronounceable additive to my ice cream to achieve that artificially creamy quality...)

But pure simple vanilla flavor with a wonderfully smooth texture was dished up.  The vanilla flavor was beyond compare to other vanilla ice creams I've tried.  David Lebovitz has something going with the use of vanilla bean AND extract.  I did splurge and use Mexican vanilla extract.  Though I know the run of the mill McCormick vanilla beans I used were not the best quality out there.

Still amazing.  I look forward the other more involved ice cream concoctions that will come out of this birthday present!


  1. Beautiful ice cream! Nothing beats a classic, and this makes me wish I had an ice cream maker.

  2. This is the best ice cream ever! I'm glad you also love Mr. David Lebovitz!!