Ice Cream |
with egg yolks (custard)

Vanilla Ice Cream | with egg yolks (custard)

March 3, 2021


© 2022 Biterkin

cover photo for Vanilla ice-cream | with egg-yolks (custard)

If you are looking for the perfect vanilla ice cream made with vanilla extract, with a loud and clear vanilla flavour, you are in the right place. This is a custard vanilla ice cream, which contains egg yolks, milk, cream and sugar. The word “custard” means that the ice cream mixture contains dairy and egg yolks; and it is cooked until thickened, which makes for the most perfect velvety ice cream.

Egg yolks have been used in the making of ice cream for centuries. They are the only natural ingredient which results in an ice cream with a luscious mouthfeel and also help retain its lovely texture in the freezer. 

In the recipe, you will find detailed instructions so that your vanilla ice cream comes out perfect every single time. The process is quite simple and, other than waiting, it requires little involvement. Although it is recommended to start by making the ice cream mixture the day before and leave it in the refrigerator to chill before churning, you are also provided with a faster way so that you can speed things up.

The Biterkin details to a perfect Vanilla Ice Cream:

Vanilla extract labelled as “pure vanilla extract” is the best. Always check the ingredients; it should contain water, alcohol and vanilla bean extract. If possible, 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.

You can replace regular sugar with good-quality raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado, which are very aromatic, thanks to their natural content in molasses and have an earthy, slightly caramelised aroma.
By replacing regular sugar with raw cane sugar like the above, you boost the vanilla flavour of the ice cream, creating the ultimate vanilla ice cream experience.
Choose good-quality raw cane sugar, one which smells divine when you sniff it. The best Demerara sugar is known to originate from the island of Mauritius, so check the label for the origin.

When making vanilla ice cream at home, most recipes ask you to add the vanilla extract into the ice cream mixture before churning it.
But if you are after an outstanding vanilla ice cream, prefer to add the vanilla extract during the last minutes of the churning instead, as we do in this recipe. When you add it into the just-frozen ice cream, its flavour comes out loud and shining, creating the absolute vanilla experience.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

to show the ingredients of vanilla ice cream with egg yolks (custard)

Every ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Do not attempt to reduce or replace anything; everything is there for a reason. Look out for these:

The recipe at a glance:

Here is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to making ice cream, read the recipe before proceeding.

Vanilla Ice Cream | with egg yolks (custard)
Vanilla Ice Cream
with egg yolks (custard)

For best results, use a digital kitchen scale and measure the ingredients directly into the bowl/saucepan, as you proceed with the recipe. 

If you have a kitchen scale, prefer to weigh the ingredients instead of measuring by cup; it provides accurate results, very much needed in ice cream making. If you do not have a kitchen scale, follow these guidelines:

1 cup (US) = 236 ml | 1 Tbs. = 15 ml

– for sugar: only use white granulated sugar (regular).

– for liquid ingredients: make sure that you thoroughly scrape with a rubber spatula the cup every time you measure something and empty it.

Use egg yolks from 5 eggs in the range of 65 – 75 gr; 2.3 – 2.65 oz, approximately (this is the weight of a whole egg, in its shell). These eggs are labelled as:

  • Large (L) in the UK
  • Extra-Large (XL) in the USA
  • Jumbo in Australia

If your eggs are smaller than this or you do not know their size, prefer to weigh the egg yolks. You need 100 gr; 3.5 oz. of egg yolks, but 10 gr more/less than that is ok, so do not stress much over accurate weight.

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

Only use whole milk (this is around 3.5% fat). Do not substitute with skimmed milk or plant-based milk.

Use heavy cream with 35-40% fat content and pourable consistency. “Ultra-pasteurised cream” and “cream suitable for whipping” with 35-40% fat are ok, too. Avoid any cream which contains sugar or other sweeteners. Do not substitute with low-fat cream or plant-based cream.

You can combine double cream with whole milk to make heavy cream for this recipe. To make 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream, you need:

  • 360 gr double cream (12.7 oz.) (with 50% fat)
  • 140 gr/ml whole milk (4.9 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 smooth. Avoid whisking, as it may turn into whipped cream.

The resulting heavy cream has 36% fat, perfect for this ice cream. Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream needed. 

*this 140 gr (4.9 oz.) milk is extra to the 400 gr milk (14.1 oz) asked in the recipe. So, if using double cream, you will need in total 540 gr milk (19 oz.), from which:

  • 400 gr (14.1 oz.) are for the recipe; and
  • 140 gr (4.9 oz.) are mixed with the double cream to make heavy cream

Use only regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or raw cane sugar such as Turbinado or Demerara, which enhances the vanilla flavours. 

Do not use:

  • sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • honey or other liquid sweeteners, natural or artificial

In order of preference:

1) use Pure Vanilla Extract for a perfect vanilla flavour

2) Vanilla Essence is the next best option

3) Vanilla Paste is great too; refer to the product’s label for the quantity you will use: you need the equivalent to 2 vanilla pods. Add it in the ice cream mixture right after it cools down and before you chill it, whisking well to dissolve-step 2 (as opposed to vanilla extract, which is added during the last stages of churning -step 3). Keep a note somewhere so that you do not forget to add it: you will not find a mention in the recipe for adding the vanilla paste.

4) If you want a natural vanilla flavour, avoid 

Imitation Vanilla Flavouring and Vanillin in this recipe.

A flexible rubber spatula is good for:
-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop.
-scraping residues from bowls, saucepans etc.
If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Plan ahead:

Make the ice cream mixture (steps 1 & 2) the day before churning it. 

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Make the ice cream mixture

Prepare the heavy cream: pour the heavy cream (500 gr; 17.6 oz) into a large bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over it. Set aside.

Prepare the egg yolks: put the egg yolks (100 gr; 3.5 oz.)  in a medium bowl, and whisk them lightly to break them down. Set the bowl next to the stovetop.

Warm the milk and the sugar: place the milk (400 gr/ml; 14.1 oz) and the sugar (185 gr; 6.5 oz.) in a medium saucepan. Warm over low-medium heat, often stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Pour the hot milk in the egg yolks: when all the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and steamy, remove it from the heat and pour a ladle or two in a slow, steady stream over the egg yolks with one hand while whisking them vigorously with the other. 

Give a thorough stir with the rubber spatula to the mixture, scraping the inside of the bowl.

Cook until thickened: return the milk/yolks mixture to the saucepan and over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with the rubber spatula so that the base doesn’t catch.
Remove from the heat when the custard starts to thicken slightly (this is at 80ºC / 176 ºF if you have an instant-read thermometer). Pour over the mesh strainer and into the heavy cream. Stir.
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. Let it cool down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chill thoroughly: the ice cream mixture should come to fridge-cold temperature before you churn it with the ice cream maker; to chill it, use one of the two methods below (click on methods to read more):

When you have time, prefer the slow method to mature the ice cream mixture and improve its flavours. If you are in a hurry, you will be happy to know that most people do not notice this flavour improvement, so feel free to shortcut.
When choosing the fast method, consider that it needs more ice than an average household usually holds.

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

Step 3: Churn the ice cream

Check the ice cream mixture if it is thoroughly cold before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–10ºC / 39ºF-50ºF). 

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

Stir: give a thorough stir to the ice cream mixture with a rubber spatula.

After chilling the ice cream mixture, it will be slightly thick. If the ice cream mixture is too thick (like yoghurt), stir it vigorously to loosen it or blend it briefly with an immersion/regular blender. Why do we do that? If the ice cream mixture is thick, it will quickly become too stiff during churning. The paddle will come to a stop before enough air is incorporated into the ice cream mixture, resulting in sloppy ice cream, which will freeze to a block.

So if you are after fluffy ice cream, take the time to bring the ice cream mixture to a pourable consistency before churning it.

If you feel unsure about the ice cream’s thickness, prefer to err on the side of fluid and give the ice cream mixture a blend nevertheless before churning it.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker.

Leave to churn until almost done; this is when it is fluffy and creamy. Remember that you have to add the vanilla extract before it becomes too thick.

Add the vanilla extract when the ice cream 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 

If the ice cream becomes too thick and the ice cream maker stops churning before the vanilla extract has been incorporated, stop the machine, remove the lid and give a good stir to the ice cream with a spoon, to help the vanilla extract mix in. 

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

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will be still soft like soft-serve ice cream. If you lift ice cream with the spoon and 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 to churn 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 thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Warning: some ice cream makers are programmed to automatically stop after a specific length of time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 4: Put in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so: 

  • remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
  • remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl
  • cover the ice cream bowl and put it in the freezer to set

Setting time depends on the ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times.

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

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

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

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors. Check it occasionally while it is in the freezer. To evaluate if the ice cream has set, insert a knife into it, all the way to the bottom: 

  • when it is ready, it is soft enough to insert the knife into it and yet has the same consistency from top to bottom. If you have a thermometer, this is approx. at -11ºC / 12ºF temperature midway through the ice cream,
  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to remove from the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Just read below how to soften it.

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 in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of an ice cream parlour’s.

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:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls which must be frozen before churning
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

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

After this, the ice cream will be easier to scoop and transfer to another container and store in the freezer or serve directly from the removable freezer bowl.

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 45-60 min (or if you have a thermometer, when it reads around -11ºC / 12ºF, inserted midway through the ice cream).

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the perfect serving temperature of this chocolate ice cream is when the thermometer inserted midway through the ice cream reads around -11ºC / 12ºF.this temperature, the ice cream is at its best to scoop and enjoy.

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