No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream | the custard version​

March 19, 2021 | © 2021 Biterkin

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This No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream, apart from vanilla, requires only three main ingredients: cream, egg yolks and sugar. And no, it does not require condensed milk or any special folding skills. It is very easy to make and a far cry better than the usual no-churn ice cream recipes you can find, as it uses only fresh, flavourful ingredients. 

The process is simple: you make a custard by boiling the cream with the sugar and pouring it over the egg yolks. You then chill it until it is thoroughly cold. After this you whip it with a mixer, a hand-held one is just fine. That’s it, now pour it in a container and freeze it until set.

The best part is its versatility, as apart from freezing it to scoop out and serve it, you can also use it as a filling for ice cream pops or ice cream tortes, thanks to its rich body which makes it easy to use in moulds.

And for a perfect vanilla flavour, choose the best vanilla extract you can afford. You will find everything you need to know in the Biterkin details below, plus a secret to boosting the vanilla flavour.

The Biterkin details for a No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream:

When making custard-based ice creams at home, you may be asked to use an instant-read thermometer to check if the custard has reached the right temperature, which is around 80ºC/176ºF. This is the temperature at which the custard is thickened; also, at this temperature, the eggs are perfectly safe to eat. But! While it is good to have a thermometer, it is only natural that you may not have one at home.

For this reason I have developed a very simple method, which uses the laws of physics to guarantee that the ice cream mixture is cooked to the right temperature.

It is also the least labour-intensive one, as it does not require you to stand over the stovetop stirring until the custard is thickened. 

Instead, you only need to bring the dairy and sugar to a full boil and then pour the mixture onto the cold egg yolks, while whisking vigorously. It works every time, because by combining the right amount of boiling dairy with the right amount of fridge-cold egg yolks you have a perfectly cooked custard.

For this method to work, you have to make sure that:

  1. the ingredients are properly measured; it is important that the ratio of “cold egg yolks to boiling dairy” is right
  2. egg yolks are cold from the fridge (4ºC; 39ºF), and
  3. you bring the dairy to a full boil (100ºC; 212ºF) and immediately pour it over the egg yolks, while whisking vigorously. 

Your best option is vanilla extract labeled as “pure vanilla extract”. Always check the ingredients; it should contain water, alcohol and vanilla bean extract. Try to avoid the ones containing sugar or any other ingredients; they may seem like a bargain as they are cheaper, but in fact you pay for a diluted product, resulting in a weak vanilla flavour.

If you don’t have pure vanilla extract, refer to the ingredients section below, where you can find information on other forms of vanilla and how to use them. 

This is totally optional, but you can replace regular sugar with a good-quality raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado. These are sugars which are very aromatic, thanks to their natural content in molasses, which gives them an earthy, slightly caramelised aroma.

By replacing regular sugar with a raw cane sugar like the above, you boost the vanilla flavour of the ice cream, creating the ultimate vanilla ice cream experience.

In order for this to work, the raw cane sugar you use should be of good quality. To evaluate the quality of the sugar, you only have to sniff it; it should smell divine.  In my experience, the best Demerara sugar comes from the island of Mauritius.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

to show the ingredients for no-churn vanilla ice cream custard

Every single ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Ice creams are all about balance, both in terms of ingredients, as well as their quantities. Do not play around changing the proportions of the ingredients or trying to use low-fat versions of dairy and sweeteners, such as stevia/other decreased-calorie sugars. Look out for these:

The recipe at a glance:
No-churn Vanilla Ice Cream | the custard version
Ingredients:

For best results, use a scale and measure the ingredients directly into the utensils, when you need them.

Avoid weighing in one utensil and transferring to another, as this causes a small, but important loss of quantity, especially in liquids.

Use heavy cream suitable for whipping, with 35-36% fat percentage.

Do not use lower fat versions, or else the custard may not whip.

Do not use any kind of non-dairy cream. 

If you live in the UK where heavy cream is not available, you can combine double cream and milk to create heavy cream.

For 500 gr heavy cream you will need:

  • 350 gr double cream (with 50% fat)
  • 150 gr/ml regular milk (3.5% fat)

To make the heavy cream, put the double cream in a large bowl, then pour in the milk, a little at a time, whisking smoothly after each addition until just incorporated. Do not over-whisk, or else it will turn into whipped cream; stop when the cream is smooth and preferably with a pourable consistency.

Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 500 gr heavy cream needed. All the other ingredients -milk included- remain the same.the 

Use regular sugar (white granulated sugar).

You could use a raw cane sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado, which will enhance the vanilla flavour of the ice cream.

Do not use sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia. Also, do not use confectioner’s sugar, it is not suitable for this recipe. 

it is recommended to weigh the egg yolks, because egg sizes (and their yolks) may vary from my country to yours. If you do not have a scale, use only egg yolks from eggs which are in the range of around 65 – 75 gr; 2.3 – 2.65 oz (whole egg, in its shell). The weight of the eggs is written on their packaging and they may be labelled as “large” or “extra large”, depending on the country they are sold.

The egg yolks should be cold when you pour in the boiling cream, or else they may be cooked.

TIP: to separate the egg yolk from the white, do it when the eggs are cold from the fridge, as the egg yolks are firmer and are easy to handle.

For a perfect vanilla ice cream flavour, prefer “Pure Vanilla Extract” over “Vanilla Essence”, if available.

You can also use “Vanilla Paste”; to do so, use the amount equivalent to 2 vanilla pods as written on the product’s label. 

If you want a natural vanilla flavour, avoid using “Imitation Vanilla Flavouring” and “Vanillin” in this recipe.

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for easily pouring  the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.

Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a towel under it, to keep it in place while whisking.

Instructions
Step 1: Prepare the custard

Prepare the egg yolks: put the cold egg yolks (100 gr; 3.5 oz)  in a large bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Put them in the fridge to keep them cold, keeping the whisk in the bowl. Do not do this ahead of time, as the egg yolks dry quickly.

Boil the cream and sugar: place the heavy cream (500 gr; 17.6 oz; 2 cups & 2 Tbs.) and the sugar (130 gr; 4.6 oz; 1/2 cup & 2 Tbs.) in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring often with a silicone spatula, until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat to high and remove the egg yolks from the fridge. 

Pour the boiling cream in the egg yolks: when the cream comes to a full boil (large bubbles cover the surface), remove it from the heat, and immediately start pouring it in a steady stream into the egg yolks with one hand, while whisking them vigorously with the other.

Stir: with a rubber spatula, stir well and thoroughly for one minute, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. 

You have to stir the custard with a rubber spatula while it is still hot, thoroughly scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, where residues of egg yolk lie. Those residues, which you cannot see, are there and they should be incorporated into the rest of the mixture, while it is still hot. Stirring also makes the custard thicken slightly.

Step 2: Chill the custard

Cool it down: prepare an ice bath by putting ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl and carefully nest the bowl with the custard in it, taking care that no water slips into it. Leave it to cool down for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Strain and chill thoroughlybefore you whip it, the custard should be thoroughly cold. To chill it, use one of the two methods below (click on methods to read more):

Personally, I prefer the slow method, as during the refrigeration process the custard matures and the flavours improve. However, most people do not notice this flavour improvement, therefore feel free to follow the method which is more convenient to you.
Another thing to consider in choosing the fast method is whether you have enough ice to fully submerge the bag with the custard.

Step 3: Whip the custard

Pour the chilled custard into the bowl of a stand or hand-held mixer. 

Add the vanilla extract (2 Tbs.).

Whip the custard: with the whisk attachment on, start whipping at low speed and gradually increase the speed to high. Beat until soft peaks form and it is dollopable: this is when the waves that the whisk leaves on the surface of the cream stay there, instead of disappearing in the cream.
Step 4: Freeze until firm

Transfer the whipped custard into a freezable container. Cover well and put it in the freezer until completely firm and set, preferably overnight. 

If using as a filling in a mould, ice cream sandwich or a torte, use it directly after whipping. Freeze for 24 hours before cutting/unmoulding.

The setting time for this no-churn ice cream depends on your freezer. It is most likely that it will take 6-8 hours, but it is recommended to let it fully set overnight; you can tell if the ice cream has properly set, if you insert a knife into and it is hard to go all the way to the bottom*. When it is set, you can soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, by putting it in the refrigerator for one hour, which will finally give the best texture and mouthfeel to this ice cream. 

* if the ice cream is not ready yet, when you insert a knife, it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down. In this case, you have to let it set for longer.

Storage and serving

Storage: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells.

Scoopingbefore serving, soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, by putting it in the refrigerator for 1 hour (or 30 minutes if it is freshly made).

Use a rubber spatula: 

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Use a saucepan with a long handle:

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for easily pouring  the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.

Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a towel under it, to keep it in place while whisking.

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