Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Yesterday I went for a run. I was about ten minutes in when it dawned on me that lying on the beach would be more fun. Yes, it was actually warm enough to lie on dry, warm sand and listen to waves while the spring sunshine dusted my nose with freckles. It was heavenly. The hope that summer is around the corner induces butterflies in my stomach, like a 13 year old who knows her crush is coming to the party. I live for sun. Maybe Vancouver isn’t the best city for me. Or maybe I should just transplant myself to Mexico for the 5 rainy months of the year… not a bad idea, really…

Anyway, with the breath of sunnier months warm on my cheek, I think it is appropriate to share the summer anticipation with a recipe for ice cream.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Photo by Nico Alary.

This vanilla ice cream is the ice cream that gives my ice cream machine most of its exercise. Wow ice cream three times in one sentence. Too lazy to change that.

Even now that my machine is broken, it still faithfully churns out this incredible manifestation of what this ice cream is meant to be. The store-bought stuff doesn’t hold a candle. The recipe I am devoted to is by Mr. David Lebovitz, the god of the frozen dessert in most opinions, my own included.

Vanilla has an unfortunate reputation of being boring. If you are of that persuasion, I’m sure that this recipe has the power to change your mind. It is custard based, starting with vanilla bean-infused milk, thickened with egg yolks and strained into a generous volume of heavy cream. It is then hit with another dose of vanilla, in extract form, and churned in a machine to produce the creamiest, most luscious vanilla ice cream you’ve ever tasted.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Photo by Nico Alary.

In other news, I am getting my photo taken tomorrow. It’s time for a real headshot. The talented Nico Alary, my co-chef in the making of those incredible pear fritters and this ice cream, is lugging over his fancypants equipment and I’m going to have to make my prettiest smile and try not to be awkward and cheesy. No easy task.

I don’t know what it is about a camera that makes me panic. I’ve got a fairly high embarrassment threshold. Just the thought of my face being frozen forever in that moment gives me serious performance anxiety. And the photo shoot will take place at 10 am. Hardly an appropriate time of day for tequila shots. Hmm… an idea just dawned on me. Tequila-lime ice cream. That should happen. Not tomorrow morning, of course, just in general. Anyway, here’s me getting sidetracked from my sidetrack. On to the Vanilla Ice Cream…

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

From David Lebovitz’s website.

The recipe calls for the vanilla bean to be infused in the milk for one hour before making the custard. I always omit this step, simply adding the seeds into the milk and starting on step 2, and I’ve had delicious results.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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.