Thursday, August 19, 2010


I could live on a diet of frozen treats. Preferably this meal plan would consist of Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, Phileo taro flavored frozen yogurt topped with red bean followed by cake batter flavored frozen yogurt topped with graham cracker crumbs, Ryan’s Homemade Ice Cream praline and cream ice cream, and Il Laboratorio pistachio gelato. In college, I gained the Freshman 15 by eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every other day. I don’t regret a single pound of it-- most of the time.

I grew up eating Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream and what I loved about Breyer’s is that their ice cream had actual vanilla beans in it. I thought I was so much cooler for having ice cream with black little specks in it than my other friends who, I was sure, had pedestrian vanilla ice cream in their freezers. Now that summer is winding down, I don’t see that as a reason to start segueing into fall foods. Let’s celebrate the end of summer with more ice cream!

I hadn't had vanilla ice cream in awhile so I decided to try David Lebovitz's recipe since his recipes are so popular with the food blogging crowd. This one called for a vanilla bean, which was perfect given that I wanted black specks in my ice cream. There are few things better than fresh churned homemade ice cream. The texture is creamier than the store bought version, and it's richer. The addition of vanilla bean adds a robust flavor and I will add another one the next time I make this to give it an even more pronounced vanilla flavor.

This was my first time making a custard base ice cream and here are some things that I learned:
  • Temper the eggs slowly. In my excitement to have homemade ice cream as soon as possible, I poured too much of the hot cream into the eggs. I highly recommend starting off with a tablespoon or two in order to avoid scrambled eggs.

  • Alcohol is essential to achieve a soft consistency so I added a tablespoon of vodka. Without the alcohol, the ice cream will be rock hard.

  • If you don't have an ice cream maker (or if you break it like I did), you can simply pour the chilled custard into a shallow baking pan (I used an 8x8 and put mine in the freezer overnight) and stir every half hour. The key here is to break apart the frozen pieces which will give you a smoother consistency. Otherwise, your ice cream will be icy so be sure to mix thoroughly. For this recipe, it took about an hour for the ice cream to freeze.
Now that I've finally tried David's recipe, I'm certain that I will give the rest in his book, The Perfect Scoop, a try. Here’s to the “Quarter Life 15” I’m sure to gain; I’m going to revel in every pound.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Yields one quart

1 c. whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 c. heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. 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.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) 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.

3. 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. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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