On the topic of vanilla ice cream, you can, of course, also make your own. It’s really easy to do.
I’ve found that the key to making really good vanilla ice cream is to start with the best ingredients you can get your paws on. If you can get your cream and eggs from a local dairy, that’s ideal.
This recipe makes a ridiculously rich ice cream that gets a double shot of luxurious flavor from vanilla extract and whole beans. It’s thick and creamy and flecked with bits of fragrant fresh vanilla bean.
A note on equipment
You’ll need a double boiler to make the custard. If you don’t have one, you can always improvise with a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
You’ll also need an ice-cream maker of some sort. I have a Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker, and it does a great job.
Spice Trader’s Reserve Vanilla Ice Cream
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup half-and-half
2 Tbls. butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 whole vanilla beans
Yields about 1 quart
Get your double boiler rolling
Fill the bottom of a double boiler about half full with water and set it on top of the stove on medium-high heat. Bring the water up to a boil while you prepare the vanilla beans and custard.
Prepare the vanilla beans
Slit each vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape each half to remove the pulp. It will be paste-y in consistency and almost black. Set aside in a little dish.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, this is a good video that illustrates how to cut and scrape the beans.
When you’ve removed the paste, save the pods. You can preserve them in a little vodka to make vanilla extract, or bury them in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar (great to bake with or to sprinkle on buttered cinnamon toast).
Start the custard
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together to combine. Beat until they’re light and fluffy.
Check to be sure that the water in the double boiler is simmering. (Wait to add the egg and sugar mixture until it is.)
Put the egg and sugar mixture into the top of the double boiler. Add the half-and-half and whisk gently until the mixture begins to thicken.
Add the butter and stir until it’s completely melted.
Remove from the heat (i.e. remove the top part of the double boiler) and set it aside for 10-15 minutes to let the temperature drop a little. Stir occasionally.
Finish the custard
Add the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla paste. Whisk gently to combine. You want to break up the chunk of vanilla paste and evenly distribute it.
Process and freeze
Add the mixture to an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.
For my Cuisinart, this means processing the ice cream for about a half an hour, then transferring it to an airtight plastic container and freezing for another hour or two before serving.