Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Friday, May 29, 2009

One of my favorite things about summer is the homemade ice cream.  From the months of May through at least October I crank up (or rather, plug in) the old ice cream maker at least once every other week. And once you have the  ice cream basics under your belt, the flavor possibilities are endless.

There are a few things you should know before making ice cream:
1. You don't have to have an ice cream maker! (see my instructions below)
2. It's best to make your batch the night before you need it. Letting it sit in the fridge for 8 hours increases the crystallization and improves the smoothness of your ice cream.
3. If you like your ice cream harder (rather than like soft serve) allow it to sit in the freezer for one hour before serving.

Let's start with an easy vanilla ice cream adapted form Martha Stewart Living:

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

2.5 C Heavy Cream
2 C Whole Milk
1 T Vanilla Bean Extract (or paste)
8 Large Egg Yolks
1 C Sugar
1/4 t Salt

Put cream and milk into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vanilla and heat mixture until hot (do not let simmer), about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from heat.

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Put yolks, sugar & salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until yolk mixture has tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Ladle 1 cup cream mixture in a slow stream into yolk mixture to temper it. Add another cup of cream mixture; beat to combine. Transfer mixture to saucepan; cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and an thermometer registers 180 degrees (5 - 7 minutes).

Pour custard into a bowl set in ice water bath. Let cool. Cover with plastic wrap (making sure to rest the plastic wrap on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming). Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. If you are impatient you can take it out after several hours, but it's worth it to let it sit for the whole 8 hours.

Place in your ice cream maker, following instructions that come with your machine. Serve immediately if you want a soft serve consistency, or freeze in an airtight plastic container until ready to serve.

**If you don't have an ice cream maker, simply place the custard (after cooling overnight) in a freezer safe container. Place in the freezer, after 45 minutes check on it and stir it vigorously. Place it back in the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes. It will take about 2 - 3 hours to be ready.

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