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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is one of my favorite summer treats. Growing up my mom had one of those old fashioned ice cream makers that you filled the metal insert with the cream and such and then loaded up with ice and rock salt. The machine would churn for what seemed like hours - but maybe that's because it was super loud and mom always seemed to start it around 6 am - I truly have no idea how long it took to make. But it would turn out the best ice cream, super rich and creamy with the best texture.

As a wedding present, I got a KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer and I love it. All I have to do is remember to freeze the bowl over night (which is sometimes a challenge as I'm not the best at advanced planning all the time) and I'm just a few easy steps away from homemade ice cream.

For this one, I made a traditional custard base with egg yolks, half and half, sugar and vanilla. You can make homemade ice cream without the custard step but I think it adds a creamier texture and richness that's especially important when making vanilla. Good vanilla is also a must for this recipe - don't use the imitation stuff, if you have a vanilla bean, even better.

Traditional Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

2 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
4 cups half and half
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

In a large saucepan, heat 2 cups of half and half with the vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar until steaming. In mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until light yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Slowly stream in 1/2 cup hot half and half mixture to temper the yolks. Transfer egg mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly while slowly streaming the egg mixture in. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 degrees. Do not boil the custard. It will be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and if you drag your finger through it, the outline will remain.

Strain the custard through a mesh strainer into a glass bowl and stir in the remaining half and half. Cover and chill to at least 40 degrees or overnight. When cold, add custard to ice cream maker and mix according to directions. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze until solid.
I served the ice cream topped with simple ripe strawberries sprinkled with a bit of sugar.

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