The Best Vanilla Ice Cream
Who doesn’t love the divine, inimitable flavor of pure vanilla ice cream? While it goes with everything – pies, cakes, tarts, cobblers and more – it’s perfect just by itself or with a lovely caramel or fudge sauce. Yummm!
Unfortunately, finding pure vanilla ice cream has become a bit of a challenge. With a new generation of imitation flavors made with rice bran extract, even some of the high-end commercial vanilla ice creams are labeled “natural flavors” or “other natural flavors.” In other words, not pure vanilla ice cream!
Now, a new “natural flavor” is coming on the market, which is a complete game-changer. Made from highly genetically-engineered plant stock, this new flavor will likely be listed as vanilla flavor. Is it the real deal? That is the question and is causing great debate.
The point here is that if you want to make certain that the vanilla ice cream you eat is made with pure vanilla, purchase small-batch, artisan vanilla ice cream. Or, make your own!
Anne Bourget offers her recipe for pure vanilla ice cream using a vanilla bean. You can also substitute freshly ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract or vanilla paste, or you can use a combination of the choices if you want a truly richly-flavored frozen dessert.
Personally, I would use 1 vanilla bean plus a teaspoon extract as I want my ice cream very fully-flavored. The bean definitely gives a full spectrum of the true flavor of vanilla. The extract simply backs it up.
To substitute freshly ground vanilla beans, add 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon of ground vanilla bean to the heated cream. It will flavor the cream blend overnight. You can blend ground beans and extract as well.
If you wish to use our vanilla paste, you will need 1- to 1-1/2 teaspoons of the paste, added after the cream has been heated. Our paste is a blend of a triple-strength vanilla and freshly ground beans with only xanthum gum that acts as a binder. There is no sugar or corn syrup included in the paste.
And if you use our extracts, then add 1 tablespoon to the heated cream. Doesn’t taste quite strong enough? Add a little more.
You can use this recipe as the basis for making other flavors as well. Add very ripe fruits, crushed peppermint plus a little pure peppermint extract, chocolate chips or whatever else you’d like just as the churning liquid is starting to look like ice cream.
If the recipe looks a little too rich for your taste, use 3 egg yolks instead of six and use more light cream and less heavy cream. You can also substitute low-fat milk. The ice cream will taste fine but might develop ice crystals fairly quickly or be a little grainy if you don’t eat it within a day or two.
- 1 vanilla bean open lengthwise
- 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- Put half-and-half, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup sugar into a saucepan, then scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into liquid and then add the vanilla bean to the mixture. Gently warm over low flame until the sugar has dissolved.
- Place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and beat until the mixture thickens and turns a pale yellow.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture and heat until blended. Gradually add the rest of the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks, beating continually. Return the custard to the saucepan and cook gently until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. (Note: Don’t rush this process as the custard will curdle. Stir constantly as the custard thickens.)
- Remove the vanilla bean from mixture then strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Scrape the remaining seeds from vanilla bean into the custard mixture and stir until well blended.
- Allow custard to chill thoroughly then make ice cream according to the directions of your ice cream maker.
- Makes 1 quart ice cream
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