Vanilla Bean Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style

May 22, 2021 | © 2021 Biterkin

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This Philadelphia – style Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is the simplest ice cream you can make at home with your ice cream maker. You only need milk, cream, sugar, and a vanilla bean. It is so easy to prepare: you just warm the milk with the sugar to fully dissolve the sugar, add the vanilla bean and the heavy cream, then chill the ice cream mixture thoroughly, before churning.

Compared to other Philadelphia – style ice cream recipes you can find elsewhere, this recipe has one extra step in the process: before pouring the ice cream mixture in the ice cream maker, you blend it for one minute. This is a small trick which makes for the best ice cream body possible, but if you do not feel like pulling out the blender, you may as well skip it. 

Vanilla beans are considered a rare treat, especially the top-quality ones, which can be rather expensive. This Vanilla Bean Ice Cream will put your vanilla beans to good use, as their lovely, luxurious flavour will shine loud and clear through the milk and cream.  

for a richer ice cream, try this custard version, made with egg yolks

for a more stable body make this; it is thickened with corn starch

no ice cream maker? make this perfect no-churn ice cream with cream, sugar, egg yolks. 

no vanilla bean? this philadelphia-style uses only vanilla extract

or see all options here

Philadelphia – style Ice Cream is the simplest kind of ice cream you can make at home. 

But why is it different from other kinds of ice cream? In other kinds of ice cream, we thicken the ice cream mixture before churning to create a more stable ice cream body which:

  1. churns flawlessly in the ice cream maker
  2. melts slowly and uniformly during serving; and
  3. keeps well in the freezer for longer.

Thickening the ice cream is usually done by cooking the ice cream mixture with egg yolks or cornstarch (aka cornflour) .

Philadelphia – style ice cream does not require you to thicken the ice cream mixture, so it is the kind of ice cream you can make quickly, using the least number of ingredients possible. In comparison to the thickened versions, it melts faster during serving and it may not keep well in the freezer for too long, but it is still really good and everyone will love it. It will become your go-to ice cream when you are short of time and still want to make a crowd-pleasing ice cream.

The Biterkin tricks for a perfect Philadelphia-style Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:

Here are some tricks which can take this vanilla bean ice cream to the next level. You can choose the one which suits you most; or if you want to experience the ultimate vanilla bean ice cream, do them all.

However, if you choose to keep things simple and skip them, rest assured that everyone will love this vanilla bean ice cream nevertheless. 

Although one vanilla bean is enough to flavour this ice cream and everyone will love it anyway, you can add two vanilla beans if you feel like making a top-notch ice cream. This is the extra mile and I rarely do it, with vanilla beans being so expensive, but sometimes I want to create a “fine dining restaurant” experience for my guests and then this vanilla seeds-loaded and vanilla flavour-bursting ice cream is the one which perfectly suits the occasion.

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, giving the final ice cream an aroma similar to that of vanilla’s.

By replacing regular sugar with a good quality raw cane sugar, you boost the vanilla flavour of the ice cream, which takes the vanilla-ness to the next level.

You will need a good-quality raw cane sugar to obtain the best results. 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, so I always check the packaging for the origin.

This is a small trick you can use to adjust the level of vanilla-ness of the ice cream to your likings.

All you have to do is make the ice cream mixture using the vanilla bean and decide whether to add the vanilla extract or not during the last stages of churning, when the ice cream is nice and fluffy, by tasting a spoonful of it. Chances are that you will love the flavour nevertheless; however if you decide to further boost the vanilla flavour, go on and add one teaspoon vanilla extract in the ice cream, with the machine running, then leave it to churn for 5-8 minutes more. You can go up to one tablespoon of vanilla extract; just keep in mind that the flavours will reach their full potential after a few hours of sitting in the freezer, so do not be tempted to add more than that.

If there is one downside with Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream recipes out there, it is that the ice cream will appear grainy during churning, due to the absence of a thickening agent. This happens because the fat in the dairy tends to separate from its water. 

To avoid this and achieve a flawless churning and a smoother finished ice cream, you can simply blend the chilled ice cream mixture for one minute just before you pour it in the ice cream maker. 

This step is totally optional, but highly recommended.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

to show the ingredients for vanilla bean ice cream philadelphia-style

Every single ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Ice creams are all about using the right ingredients, in the right quantities. Do not play around increasing/decreasing one ingredient 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:
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style
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.

For cup measurements:

If using cups to measure the ingredients, make sure that you thoroughly scrape the cup every time you empty it.

This recipe yields 1.2 lt/qt ice cream mixture, which is perfect for ice cream makers with 1.5 litre/quart capacity and up.

However, if you own a smaller ice cream maker, or if you do not want to buy more than a pint (or 500 ml) of heavy cream, you can still make this recipe, using these quantities:

  • 300 gr milk (10.6 oz; 300 ml; 1⅓ cup)
  • 145 gr sugar (5.1 oz; 3/4 cup)
  • 500 gr heavy cream (17.7 oz; 1 pint; 500 ml; 2 cups and 2 Tbs.)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Any deviation on conversions above, are intentional and do not affect the outcome of the recipe.

Use regular, whole cow’s milk, fresh, with around 3,5% fat.

Do not substitute with skimmed milk (lower fat) or non-dairy milk, like nut milk. Both the fat and the milk proteins are needed for the recipe to work. 

Use regular sugar (white granulated sugar).

You can 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. 

For best results, use heavy cream with 35-37% fat percentage. It should be of pourable consistency. Do not use lower fat versions. 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.

To make 635 gr (22.4 oz) heavy cream you will need:

  • 440 gr/ml double cream (15.5 oz) (with 50% fat)
  • 190 gr/ml regular milk (6.7 oz.) (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, stirring smoothly with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Stop when the cream is smooth and preferably with a pourable consistency. Resist the urge to whisk, which may turn into whipped cream. 

Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 635 gr; 22.4 oz. heavy cream needed.

* these 190 gr milk (6.7 oz.) are additional to the 380 gr (13.4 oz) asked in the recipe. This means that you will need in total 570 gr; milk (20.1 oz.):

  • 380 gr; 13.4 oz for the recipe; and
  • 190 gr; 6.7 oz to mix with the double cream.

A good vanilla bean looks fresh and plump. The plumper the vanilla bean, the more the seeds which hide inside it are; and the more flavourful the ice cream will be. 

Although one vanilla bean is enough for this recipe, you can use up to two vanilla pods if you feel generous. 

Tip: when it is time to remove the vanilla bean from the ice cream right before churning, give each halved bean a last scrape with your fingers (clean hands, please), holding the halved bean between your thumb and index finger and gently sliding it lengthwise over the ice cream mixture, to remove any seed residues which are attached on the pod, and add them in. The reason to do so, is that the vanilla bean softens after steeping in the ice cream mixture and any seeds which are still attached to it are easy to remove and add to your ice cream.

It is optional to add vanilla extract, as the vanilla bean should provide enough vanilla aroma to the ice cream, especially if it is a good-quality one.  

TIP: you can further enhance the vanilla flavour to your liking, by tasting the ice cream during the last stages of churning, when the ice cream is nice and fluffy. If upon tasting, you feel like levelling it up, add up to 1 Tbs. in the ice cream with the machine running and leave to churn for 10 minutes more for the vanilla extract to be fully incorporated. Do not be tempted to add more than 1 Tbs of vanilla extract through, as the ice cream’s flavours will reach their peak after it sits in the freezer for a few hours.

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.

Fact: When you boil milk, it curdles.

But when you add sugar, you can safely bring milk to a boil; just make sure that all the sugar has dissolved before raising the heat to high. To achieve this, gently warm the milk with the sugar  over medium heat, stirring often to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved; then you can raise the heat and safely bring it to a boil. If the milk boils before all the sugar has dissolved, it will curdle.

Instructions

Before starting, make sure that your ice cream maker is ready for churning when needed. This means that if it has a removable freezer bowl, it should be put in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer, usually 24 hours.

If you intend to transfer the ice cream to a container to store the ice cream, put this container in the freezer well ahead of time, too; this will prevent the ice cream from melting upon contact with it.

Step 1: Make the ice cream mixture

Put the heavy cream (635 gr; 22.4 oz.; 2¾ cups) into a large bowl.

Boil the milk and sugar: in a medium saucepan put the milk (380 gr; 13.4 oz.; 1⅔ cups) and the sugar (185 gr; 6.5 oz.; 3/4 cup and 1 Tbs.)warm over medium-high heat, stirring often. 

Bring to a boil and let it boil briefly for 10 seconds; remove from the heat and pour the hot milk over the heavy cream and into the bowl.  Tip: do not let the milk boil before the sugar fully dissolves, or the milk may curdle. Stirring often helps the sugar dissolve efficiently.

Scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean directly into the ice cream mixture and whisk to combine. Αdd the vanilla bean, too. 

Step 2Chill the ice cream mixture

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 ice cream mixture in it, taking care that no water slips into it. Leave it to cool down for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chill thoroughly: when you churn it with the ice cream maker, the ice cream mixture 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 ice cream mixture 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 ice cream bag.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your ice cream mixture should always be thoroughly chilled. Otherwise, your ice cream maker may not be able to churn the ice cream to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. a fluffy ice cream.

Step 3: Blend and churn the ice cream

Check the ice cream mixture if it is thoroughly chilled, before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (or if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–8ºC / 39ºF-46ºF).

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Remove the vanilla bean from the ice cream mixture; add the vanilla extract (1 tsp -if using).

(optional, but good to do) Blend the ice cream mixture (with a blender or a stick blender) for 1 minute and immediately proceed to churning.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the chilled ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker and leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy; depending on your ice cream maker this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

this vanilla ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy. This could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending your ice cream maker.

To evaluate if it’s ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If, upon lifting some ice cream with the spoon, a pool immediately starts forming on its edges, you will have to churn it for longer. 

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer. 

So, stop the ice cream maker when it is thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Step 4: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or removing it to a container for storage, you have to put it in the freezer to set. Remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the vanilla bean ice cream) from the ice cream machine, cover with a lid and put it in the freezer to set. Setting time depends highly on the type of ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

This can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative, actual time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it every one hour or two, while it sits in the freezer. To evaluate if the ice cream has properly set, insert a knife into it, all the way to the bottom:

  • if it is properly set, it will be soft enough for the knife to be inserted into it, and yet have the same consistency from top to bottom
  • if it is not ready yet, it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if it is too hard for the knife to insert, you may have left it in the freezer for too long. Do not worry through, read what to do below.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and will be difficult to remove or serve.

Do not worry though, you can still make it scoopable by leaving it in the refrigerator to soften. This can take :

  • 4-6 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, actual time may vary depending on a number of factors, so do check it once in a while while it sits in the refrigerator).

After this, the ice cream will be easy to scoop and transfer to another container; or serve directly from the ice cream maker.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it directly in the freezer for 4-5 hours after churning, will help it set and reach the right consistency.

Then you can serve it or transfer to a sealable container for longer storing.

Storage and serving

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

Scooping: this vanilla bean ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term. To soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for one hour. 

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.

How to boil milk (because it is a fact; when you boil milk, it curdles.):

But when you add sugar, you can safely bring milk to a boil; just make sure that all the sugar has dissolved before raising the heat to high. To achieve this, gently warm the milk with the sugar  over medium heat, stirring often to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved; then you can raise the heat and safely bring it to a boil. If the milk boils before all the sugar has dissolved, it will curdle.

Sugar