Well, we took the new Cuisinart ice cream maker on it’s maiden voyage this weekend, and I have to tell you – it does a marvelous job. Even if I didn’t get to make what I had originally planned (and was really looking forward to).
You see, we’d just bought blood oranges last weekend and one of the first recipes I found was for a blood orange sorbet. Just the thought of it made my mouth water, so I went on a quest Saturday to buy some. Alas, there were none to be found. Apparently, their time at market is extremely short, leaving me extremely disappointed.
So, I went to Plan B: Vanilla ice cream and a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Separately, they were delicious – combined, they can make you weep. It was that good.
The recipe I’m presenting here is adapted from dessert master David Lebovitz’s recipe. It is rich and creamy with an intense vanilla flavor, and simply the best vanilla ice cream I have ever tasted. The Young One apparently agreed, since he literally licked his bowl clean.
The ice cream isn’t exactly inexpensive to make, to say nothing of being diet-friendly – it contains whole milk, heavy cream, several egg yolks and calls for both a costly vanilla bean as well as high-quality extract – so it’s not something I will make every week. But it is definitely a treat worth making (to say nothing of eating) occasionally.
If you’re apprehensive about the expensive vanilla bean – two cost me $13 – Mr. Lebovitz has some recommendations about how to get the most out of one.
“Since vanilla beans are expensive, you want to get as much use out of them as possible. After use, rinse and dry your beans on a plate until they’re brittle, then burrow them in a container of sugar. Not only will they add their lovely scent to the sugar, but you can re-use the beans for anything, from adding to a pot of poaching fruit to jam-making. I also like to pulverize the dried beans with sugar in a food processor and use it in cake and cookie batters.”
Works for me – I’ve got them drying on a plate in my kitchen right now, and as soon as they’re dry they’re going in their own container of sugar.
Don’t have an ice cream maker? Don’t sweat it – go here for instructions on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker.
Vanilla Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lenghtwise
2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour. (I was in the middle of planting my vegetable garden when I started this and the milk/sugar/vanilla mixture acutally ended sitting for nearly two hours – it did not hurt the final product; if anything, it helped.)
To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. This will temper the eggs and help keep them from cooking into “scrambled” eggs as you make the custard. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.