Thursday, July 19, 2012

Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream

There are few things in life I enjoy more than ice cream. A close first would be carbs, but that's another post for another time.

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month? It is! And oh, what a marvelous month it is.

I received the ice cream maker attachment for my KA mixer for my last birthday, and I haven't been great about busting it out. But each time I do? Oh. My. Word. I'm amazed by how much better the ice cream tastes when it's fresh off the dasher and not loaded with preservatives from the manufacturer. It tastes like ice cream is supposed to taste, and I didn't know ice cream was supposed to taste this way!

Ever since my first timid baby steps into homemade ice cream were taken, I've kept my ice cream maker in the freezer. And when a craving for ice cream hits, there's always some homemade treats in the fridge. It's better, richer, and tastier than even the best stuff from your grocer's freezer.

This ice cream is mighty tasty. It's creamy and has a perfect texture. The vanilla flavor is strong, but not overpowering. It stands up well with sauces and sides. (More of those coming!) And how cute are those teeny flecks of vanilla seeds throughout?

Also, can I just whore myself out here and say how proud I am of me? When I first started cooking for myself, I never thought I'd ever feel comfortable enough to do this. Ice cream was one of those things that was reserved for "good cooks". You know, people with talent. People with the time to do these things. I never thought I'd be one of them. But here I am, 6 years out of college, making ice cream and desserts and planning meals with vegetables, starches, and proteins. Making things I could easily grab from the store. It really is insane how far I've come, and I'm darn proud of myself for that. And if you're someone who's been reading my recipe blog since the beginning, and didn't go away and find new blogs when I took multiple blogging hiatuses (hiati?), then thank you. I really do appreciate it.

Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream
(Barely adapted from David Leibovitz, Ice Cream Fantasticator & Creator of All Things Wonderful)

(I'm kind of a big fan.)

1 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 c. heavy cream, divided
Pinch table salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, 1 c. cream, and salt. Mix together. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean (and there will be a lot of them!) into the milk mixture. Drop in the vanilla bean pod, too. (For good measure.) Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. You do not want the mixture to simmer, and you definitely don't want it to boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and  let the mixture steep for 30 minutes.

Pour the remaining cup of heavy cream into a large bowl, and set a fine mesh strainer over the top. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Take your warm milk mixture and s.l.o.w.l.y. pour it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. (I prefer to do this with a ladle.) This tempers the egg yolks so you don't end up with scrambled eggs later. You need to whisk constantly so your egg yolks don't get warm enough to scramble.

Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly--constantly!-scraping the bottom of the pan as you go.(Again, this is so your egg yolks don't scramble.) Do this until the mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon. (When it coats the spoon, you should be able to draw a line with your finger on the spoon, and the mixture won't run back together.)(I find it's easier if I use a thermometer clipped to the side of the pan. The custard is ready when the thermometer reads between 170 F. and 175 F.) Immediately pull the pan off the heat.

Remember the cup of cream in the bowl with the strainer on top? We're going back to it! Pour your custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir in the vanilla. Let this mixture cool a little (I wait around 10 mins.) and then cover and refridgerate overnight. (If you're doing this the same day, I'd recommend at least 8 hours between the time it goes in the fridge and the time you're ready to churn.)

When you're ready to make your ice cream, remove the custard from the fridge. Pull out the vanilla bean, and churn according to the manufacturer's directions for your ice cream maker. (For those with a KA attachment, your bowl must be frozen at least 15 hours straight, and the dasher must be moving before you pour in your custard.)

Store in the freezer. I use a tupperware container with a lid, or a loaf pan covered with plastic wrap, depending on what's available.

  • You'll see that this ice cream isn't pure white like most vanilla ice creams sold in stores. That's mainly due to the custard and the egg yolks. It's still delicious.

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