ice cream is, without a doubt, one of my favorite foods ever. that’s probably because when i was growing up, we generally had ice cream for dessert every single night after dinner. my brothers and i still joke about the fact that even today, my parents have no fewer than three (usually more) different flavors of ice cream in their freezer at any given time. that’s right – two people, at least three flavors. and they don’t buy them in the pint sizes – they go straight for the 1/2-gallon cartons (or is it 1/3-gallon these days? what a travesty it is if ice cream companies are trying to dupe us into buying less.).
but can you blame them? honestly, is there anything not to like about ice cream? and i’m sorry, but if you don’t eat dairy, you don’t get a vote on this one. let’s discuss just some of the many virtues of ice cream, point-by-point:
- texture. creamy and dreamy. rich, yet light. like if a fluffy cloud and a roll of silk had a baby.
- temperature. it’s the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. but even if it’s cold out, the way ice cream starts out cold, but starts to melt into a puddle of delicousness the second it hits your mouth is a delight for the senses.
- taste. a good ice cream has the perfect level of sweetness, and forms the base for just about any sweet flavor profile out there.
- limitless possibilities. in addition to the ice cream itself being able to take on an endless array of flavors, it can also have pretty much any flavoring elements mixed into it – cookies, candy, fruit… throw them all in!
- uplift your dessert. ice cream can be served any number of ways. it is perfect in a bowl by itself, but also uplifts any other dessert. it can be scooped onto a warm pie or served alongside cake with a good sauce. it can be served with fruit, or pressed into a crust to make a pie. it can even be blended into a beverage. is there anything this stuff can’t do?
have i made it clear to you how much i love ice cream? so it’s obviously only natural that i should learn to make ice cream from scratch, right? i figured vanilla was the appropriate place to start, since in addition to being completely delicious on its own, vanilla ice cream seems to be the base for almost every other ice cream flavor out there. i did a little research, and it turns out that the vast majority of recipes that i looked at all pointed back to david lebovitz, who really knows his stuff – especially when it comes to ice cream. so i used his recipe as a guide and got started.
this ice cream is fantastic. it is decadently rich and creamy, but somehow also light and fluffy, with the perfect balance of flavor. it is wonderfully sweet but not cloyingly so, and the vanilla is really the star. i know i just said that vanilla is the perfect base for other flavors, but the idea of adulterating this ice cream’s delightfully pure taste and texture seems almost blasphemous as i think about it. but whether i am going to add to it or enjoy it in it’s natural state, i am so glad that i started with this recipe.
rich, creamy, and indulgent vanilla ice cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- a pinch of salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and with the seeds scraped out
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- put the milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod in a saucepan over medium heat. stir and cook the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and it just reaches a simmer. remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for about an hour.
- meanwhile, put the heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
- after the milk has infused, put it back over low heat to re-warm. in a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. stirring constantly, very slowly pour ½ to 1 cup of the warm milk into the yolks. pour this mixture back into the pot with everything else. continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- carefully strain the custard into the heavy cream. mix everything together, then add the vanilla. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge until it is completely chilled.
- freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.