Follow Me Foodie to National Ice Cream Day!
I’m really excited about today even if you aren’t! I don’t know why you wouldn’t be though… unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case my deepest sympathy, but I will eat another scoop on your behalf. It’s National Ice Cream Day and I am celebrating with this post and with the kitchen store Call the Kettle Black!
**For today only (Saturday July 21, 2012) Call the Kettle Black is giving $20 off the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker (2 quarts) if you use the code word “Neopolitan“. This is an in-store offer only – see their locations here. Spread the word, spread the joy because we all scream for ice cream!
Frozen desserts. It’s a dangerous food group for me. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, and any frozen treat like that is probably my favourite category of desserts. There, I said it. I enjoy it more than cookies, cakes, pies and doughnuts… but don’t let them hear you because I still really like those too.
To be fair, all of those desserts are good in their own way as long as they’re made with quality ingredients, and what better way to ensure quality than by making it yourself! I definitely support the restaurants and vendors making good quality ice cream with good ingredients, but sometimes home made is best. And it’s fun making it too!
It took me forever to figure out what flavour I wanted to feature on National Ice Cream Day. I started with creative flavours like a mascarpone, pistachio and fig ice cream and then a blueberry, vanilla and lavender thyme ice cream, and then I eventually decided on a basic vanilla. I know. What a change. It’s kind of boring, but at the same time it is classic. It’s the Audrey Hepburn of ice cream flavours and therefore the perfect flavour to kick off with. If I can’t make a vanilla, I won’t be able to make anything else.
Vanilla is America’s favourite flavour of ice cream and it’s always the flavour I’ll order when I’m taste testing ice cream. You can usually tell if it’s going to be a good ice cream based on how they make their vanilla. What vanilla is to sweets, is what salt is to savouries.
When you’re looking for a good vanilla ice cream make sure you clarify whether it’s French vanilla ice cream of vanilla bean ice cream. If it’s vanilla bean the seeds have to be flavourful and fragrant and not dried out or stale. Although there are decent non-custard based ice creams, I find custard based ice cream even better if it’s made from good quality dairy. It shouldn’t have a greasy aftertaste or the butterfat is too high, or it has additives, but it should still have high butterfat. Again, yes it’s higher fat, but stick to good quality cream. Good ice cream shouldn’t be fluffy either or it means there is being a lot of air mixed in and you’re actually getting less ice cream. There are a lot of factors that go into making an excellent vanilla ice cream, and it’s really more than meets the bean.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Recipe
The reason I like this recipe is because it uses vanilla beans and vanilla extract. Both have different flavours and they work in perfect harmony together. I also learned from this article, that “alcohol (which most vanilla extracts contain), even if cooked off, improves the way we sense the taste of things.”
I also always prefer a custard base ice cream recipe. It takes more time and effort, but the end product is worth it. Generally with ice cream recipes, the less ingredients the better, but invest in quality ingredients and do it the old fashioned way. The custard base results in a creamier, richer, smoother and more flavourful and decadent ice cream. It’s how an artisan ice cream should be made. You can use dairy with less butter fat, but then it’s more of an ice milk which can be still good, but less of an ice cream and the texture is icier.
This is a very rich ice cream, but once you have it nailed you can go almost anywhere from here. Add whatever fruit and/or toppings you want and the vanilla will just enhance the flavours and make it even better. I wouldn’t go crazy with the fruits because you don’t want to water it down, but a vanilla ice cream is a good base for most ice cream flavours you want to do later on. And this is just the beginning for me. More ice cream AND gelato recipes to come!
About 1 quart (1l)
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)
For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks. For a less-rich custard, substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream, realizing that the final texture won’t be as rich or as smooth as if using cream.
1 cup (250ml) whole milk (I prefer Avalon milk)
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar (I use **vanilla sugar)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise ( I prefer Mexican)
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream (I prefer Avalon milk)
5 large egg yolks (I prefer organic)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I prefer Mexican)
I prefer using organic old fashioned Avalon milk and yes it does make a difference. You might not be able to tell without a back to back comparison, but once you have the back to back comparison, it’s hard to go back. The top of the Avalon Whole Milk will come with a piece of cream on top, which is basically the milk fat that rises to the top (see above).
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.
6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
**It only took 25 minutes in my Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker. Remember that Call the Kettle Black is offering an in-store promotion for this machine for National Ice Cream Day! Get $20 off by using the code word: Neapolitan.