Spice Trader’s Reserve Vanilla Ice Cream

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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.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Ok... it's posts like this that make one want to chuck it all and purchase an ice cream maker! Wow. I simply love vanilla ice cream and the taste and texture sensations you set off in my mind with this offering are simply tremendous. :) Thank you for sharing. I will shortly be going out to purchase the ice cream maker attachment for my mixer...
  2. Oh, yay! And good luck! If you're talking about the ice cream attachment that goes on a Kitchen Aid mixer, let me know how it goes! I have a Kitchen Aid and have always wondered about those worked. I put off ice cream making for years, because honestly, until recently, I had the smallest freezer known to man, so I never had the room to properly freeze the bowl. I'll poke around in my notebooks and dig up a few more recipes for you. :D
  3. Hmmm. You can definitely get them online from Penzey's (www.penzeys.com). That's where I get mine, and they're always great. You could try The Spice House (www.thespicehouse.com), but I haven't ordered from them yet, so I can't vouch for the quality. If you want to get and inspect them in person, Penzey's also has a physical store on Mass. Ave. in Arlington (kind of a drive from Salem, I know). They sell 3 beans for $7.25. I've also been able to find them sporadically at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. I called the Trader Joe's in Peabody for you, but they only carry them from October through January, which the gal dubbed "baking season." The Williams-Sonoma in Peabody sells 2 for $8.50, which is kind of way more than you should pay. For the money, I'd hit or order from Penzey's. :D