Vanilla Ice Cream | with corn starch (eggless)

March 14, 2021 | © 2021 Biterkin

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This is a plain eggless vanilla ice cream recipe flavoured with vanilla extract and thickened with corn starch (aka corn flour). It is very easy to make: you just boil the milk with the sugar, then thicken it on the stove with the corn starch. After this you add the heavy cream and chill the mixture, then churn it with the ice cream maker. 

The reason we use corn starch to thicken the ice cream mixture is to add body to the ice cream; this will make it churn beautifully and will make it more resistant to melting while you serve it. 

The secret for the perfect vanilla flavour lies in the vanilla you use; for a perfect vanilla flavour, use pure vanilla extract, rather than vanilla essence. You can take the vanilla flavour a step further by replacing regular sugar with a good quality raw cane sugar. You can read more about this in the Biterkin details section below. 

The Biterkin details to a perfect eggless Vanilla Ice Cream:

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, with vanilla tones.

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.

For best results, 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.

All vanilla ice cream recipes out there require that you add the vanilla extract right after you prepare the ice cream mixture and before chilling it in the refrigerator. Personally, I prefer to add the vanilla extract during the last minutes of churning instead, which helps the vanilla flavour to come out bold and shining. Just set a reminder to add it then, as you may forget it – especially if you are used to adding it at the beginning.

Another reason for adding it then, and not at the beginning, is that the alcohol and sugar content of the vanilla you use may vary; this can disturb the balance of the recipe and get in the way of proper churning, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. a fluffy ice cream. To avoid this, we add it after the ice cream has fluffed up and turned creamy.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

to show the ingredients for vanilla ice cream with corn starch (eggless)

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:
Vanilla Ice Cream | with corn starch (eggless)
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.

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 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. 

Use heavy cream with 35-38% 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.

For 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream you will need:

  • 350 gr double cream (12.3 oz.) (with 50% fat)
  • 150 gr/ml regular milk (5.3 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. You need the cream to be smooth and preferably with a pourable consistency. Resist the urge to  whisk, as it may turn it into whipped cream.

Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream needed.

* these 150 gr milk (5.3 oz.) are additional to the 325 gr milk (11.4 oz) asked in the recipe. This means that you will need in total 475 gr; milk (16.7 oz.), from which:

  • 325 gr (11.5 oz.) are for the recipe; and
  • 150 gr (5.3 oz.) are to mix with the double cream.

For a perfect vanilla ice cream flavour, prefer “Pure Vanilla Extract” over “Vanilla Essence”, if available. If not, a good quality vanilla essence is the next best option.

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 using Vanilla Paste, add it on step 2 (instead of step 3 as you would do with the vanilla extract), after the ice cream mixture has cooled down and before you chill it. Whisk well to dissolve.

Avoid “Imitation Vanilla Flavouring” and “Vanillin” in this recipe, if you want a natural vanilla ice cream flavour. If this is the one you have and prefer, use it, but you have to find the quantity to use to obtain the desired flavour by trial and error.

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.

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for easily pouring  the boiling milk with one hand, while whisking the cornstarch slurry with the other.

Bonus tip: put a towel under the bowl, to keep it in place while whisking.

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: Prepare the ice cream mixture

Have a rubber spatula and whisk ready on a plate, close to you.

Make a corn starch slurry: in a large heatproof bowl, put the corn starch (25 gr; 1 oz; 4 Tbs.) and add two tablespoons of the cold milk (30 gr; 1 oz.) over it. Whisk to dissolve. Set aside.

Boil the milk and sugar: in a medium saucepan put the rest of the milk (500 gr; 16.6 oz.; 2 cups) and all the sugar (200 gr; 7 oz.; 1 cup) and warm over medium-high heat, stirring often.

Bring to a boil and let it boil briefly for 5 seconds; at this time give a last whisk to the corn starch slurry, to dissolve any corn starch stuck to the bottom of 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.

Pour the milk in the corn starch slurry: pour the boiling milk over the corn starch slurry, whisk well and return everything back to the saucepan and over medium-high heat.   

Cook until thickened: cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan, until you see the first bubbles appearing on the surface; at this point the milk will thicken. Immediately remove from the heat and pour it back into the large bowl.

Add the heavy cream (500 gr; 17.6 oz; 2 cups and 2 Tbs,) and stir thoroughly.

Step 2: Chill 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.

Strain and 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: 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. 

Churn: give the ice cream mixture a nice and thorough stir. With the machine running, pour the chilled ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker. 

Leave to churn until almost done. Remember that you have to add the vanilla extract before it becomes too thick.

Add the vanilla: add the vanilla extract, when the ice cream mixture is no longer liquid and has turned creamy and fluffy. Leave to churn for 8-10 minutes more, until the vanilla extract has been fully incorporated and the ice cream is ready (see notes below).

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 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 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 :

  • anywhere from 1 to 4 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. For example, with my Cuisinart ice cream maker, it takes one hour for the ice cream to set, whereas with the Krups ice cream maker it takes 3 hours. 

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. You can still bring it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, just read the troubleshooting guide 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 many 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 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 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.

Use a saucepan with a long handle: 

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

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

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