Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Home made Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

pears and ice cream

Roasted Pears with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Two weeks ago, my friend Katie dropped by and joined us to watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I had been talking about trying an ice cream maker, and since she had one, she brought it by so that I could have a go at making my own ice cream. Perfect timing since Jamie had talked about how beaver anal gland is used in the cheaper ice creams, which completely disgusted everyone in our family.

Ice cream has a bit of a finicky relationship with the guys in my house. John can't have sugary items, so he rarely ever touches the stuff. Kevin LOVES ice cream, but because he has some issues with dairy products, he can never eat very much of it. Cheap ice cream never seems to like his stomach that much, and the expensive ice cream is...well...expensive! I can't bring myself to pay $7 for a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

So basically we don't eat a lot of ice cream, except in the summer when I break down and buy it.

One batch of home made ice cream later, and now I covet that ice cream maker so much that when we go to the USA this summer I am going to scope one out. There is nothing like home made ice cream, and I don't think I could ever go back to the store bought stuff again. The best part is, Kevin can eat it with no issues-which has made me wonder if it really is an issue with dairy products that he has, or rather an issue with food additives and preservatives.

Don't let the idea of home made ice cream scare you into thinking that it's a long, drawn out, scary process. Basically all you do is make a custard and chill it. Then you pop it in the maker, turn it on, and presto! Ice cream! If you can stir, you can make this. The only problem is you need an ice cream maker. Do I recommend you go out and buy one? If you eat a lot of ice cream or don't want to have food with weird additives, then I say yes.

Now, a bit of advice before you start. I believe that in this case, you want to use the very best ingredients possible. Don't use the cheap fake vanilla extract or cheap milk, but rather the very best you can afford. It makes a huge difference in your end product. I used Madagascar vanilla beans from The Vanilla Food Company, along with a bottle of their real vanilla extract, and the flavor was just incredible.

Also, home made things are way more satisfying. One small scoop of this stuff was enough-it's so rich and creamy, it doesn't need toppings or anything. Maybe just a little fresh fruit.

Adapted from Cuisinart

2 1/3 cups whole milk
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Stir the milk and cream together in a medium sized pot. Cut your vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, scrape out all the seeds in the middle, and add them to the pot along with the pod. Give it a stir. Don't worry if the seeds are a bit clumped together, they will separate on their own.

Turn the heat to medium and stirring, bring the mixture to a slow boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1/2 hour. Stir it occasionally so nothing burns, and keep an eye on it.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and egg yolks. Mix them on low to medium until they become thick and pale yellow, almost like mayonnaise, or a pudding. It takes about 2 minutes or so.

When your milk is finished, remove from the heat, fish out the vanilla pod and discard. Pour 1 cup of the hot milk/cream into a measuring cup. With the motor of the electric mixer running, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. This is called tempering the eggs, which means it slowly warms them up so that when you add them to the hot milk/cream mixture they don't scramble on you.

Once you have added the 1 cup of milk, stop the mixer and take the bowl to the stove. Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk, mixing as you go. Turn the heat to medium low and, stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula, cook until the mixture will coat the back of a spoon.

Well, I reasoned, how the hell am I supposed to figure THAT out?

Basically I stirred and stirred, and stopped when I could dip in a spoon, turn it over, run my finger through the mixture on the back, and it left a good line. Does that make sense? If not I'll post a picture.

Take your custard off the heat and pour into a a bowl. Cover with cling film that is directly touching the custard (so no skin, right?) Set the bowl in the fridge to chill.

Now at this point, you need to churn it according to your personal ice cream machine's instructions. With the one I was using, I had to set the freezer bowl in my freezer for a few hours and then pour in the custard, and churn it for about 30 minutes.

Put the finished ice cream into an airtight container and into the freezer for about 2 hours for it to firm up a little more before you serve.


Kevin enjoying home made ice cream
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