When purchasing an ice cream machine, making vanilla ice cream is the first thing you ought to do, for it is the epitome of homemade ice cream, the one that will prove to you that you are in the beginning of a beautiful journey.
Do not waste your time making something fancy, you need simplicity to build confidence. And do not choose a quick just-mix-and-churn ice cream recipe, you bough this ice cream machine to treat yourself to something special. Just-mix-and-churn recipes always fall into the mediocre side.
When making ice cream at home, custard-based ice creams are the way to go – the word custard implies the presence of egg yolks in the cream. Thanks to the yolks, it is velvety, fluffs beautifully when churned and retains its lovely texture in the freezer.
About the use of thermometers in ice cream recipes
– and why you will NOT need one here
In the making of custard-based ice creams, an instant-read thermometer is usually required. While it is advisable to purchase one for future use, it is only natural that you may not have one at home.
So in this recipe we use the laws of physics to guarantee that the ice cream mix is cooked..
The method is simple:
(1) we have the dairy, brought to a full boil
(2) we have the egg yolks, cold from the fridge.
By combining the right amount of boiling hot dairy (1) with the right amount of fridge-cold egg yolks (2) and returning it to the stove for 15 seconds, we have a perfectly cooked custard.
Vanilla Ice Cream
This ice cream is made with vanilla extract, rather than using vanilla bean, for the sake of simplicity. Should you like to use a vanilla bean instead, there are instructions included in the footnotes.
As you have read above, you do not have to worry about eating raw eggs in this recipe. Just do your best and whisk vigorously, so that you avoid scrambling the eggs when you add the boiling hot dairy.
- Freeze your ice cream machine’s container at least 24 hours before the time you plan to churn the ice cream.
- Make the ice cream base 12 hours before the time you plan to churn the ice cream.
- Let the ice cream sit in the freezer for 3-4 hours after churning, before you serve it
This batch is for an ice cream maker of 1.5 liter/quart capacity.
- 300 ml fresh whole milk ( about 13.5 fl. o. ; 300 gr )
- 180 gr demerara sugar ( or regular white sugar, see footnotes ) ( about 6.3 ounces; 3/4 cup and 1 Tbs.)
- 500 ml heavy cream ( about 17 fl.o. ; 2 cups )
- 5 egg yolks, Large, cold from the fridge ( about 90 gr, 3 ounces )
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract ( if you want to use a vanilla pod instead, check the notes on the bottom of the recipe )
Step 1 – Prepare the Ice Cream Base
Put the egg yolks in a large bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Put them back in the fridge, keeping the whisk in the bowl.
In a medium saucepan, put the sugar, milk and salt. 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. When the milk comes to a full boil, count 20 seconds. Remove 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. Without hesitating, return everything to the saucepan and back to the heat and keep stirring it constantly with a silicone spatula just for 15 seconds. Now pour everything back to the large bowl.
Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.
Step 2 – Cool the ice cream base
Place in an ice bath and let cool completely. Stirring always helps it cool down faster.
How to prepare an ice bath
You will need a large bowl, larger than the bowl with the prepared ice cream base. Put in some ice cubes and cold water. Carefully nest the bowl with the ice cream base in it. Pour more cold water from the sides, till it reaches the ice cream base in the inner bowl in height. Take extra care not to spill any water into the ice cream base.
Alternatively, first nest the bowl with the ice cream base into the empty larger bowl. Fill the sides with ice cubes and cold water, taking care not to let any water spill into the bowl with the ice cream base. This is my preferred method, as sitting directly on the bottom of the bowl, rather than sitting on ice cubes, is more stable.
When the ice cream base has cooled, put a mesh strainer over a container and pour the ice cream base through the mesh strainer into the container.
Add the vanilla extract and stir well. Cover with a lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight to cool.
In a hurry? Here is how to speed things up:
If you want to bypass the overnight refrigeration process and churn the ice cream immediately, you can put the ice cream in a sealable bag, place it in a large container, fully cover it with ice and let it chill for a few hours ( it may take up to 3 hours to properly cool ).
The downside of this method is that you will need lots of ice. And you will definitely need a thermometer to check if the temperature has reached the desired 4º C ( about 39º F ).
Step 3 – Churn the ice cream
Prepare the ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. With the machine running, pour the chilled ice cream base through the canister and into the ice cream machine. Leave to churn until nice and fluffy.
Remove the machine from the container and place the container, covered with a lid, into the freezer. Leave for 3-4 hours for the ice cream to set properly, before serving or removing to another container.
Storing the Ice Cream
This ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term.
To soften it before serving, remove from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator for half an hour.
It is at its best for one week in the freezer. After this, its texture starts to deteriorate. Discard after one month.
Demerara sugar is a variety of raw cane sugar and gives depth of flavour. You may use any kind of raw cane sugar you like, as long as it its light brown in colour.
Regular white sugar works well too, although it doesn’t help in building flavour.
If using a vanilla pod:
One vanilla bean is required for this recipe.
Split it in half lengthwise and using a knife, scrape the seeds directly into the saucepan with the milk and sugar ( step 1 ). Reserve the vanilla pod and proceed with the rest of the directions in step 1.
When you add the heavy cream ( end of step 1 ) add the vanilla pod, as well. Leave it in the ice cream base during the whole cooling process.
When ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla pod from the ice cream base and proceed.