Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

This vanilla bean ice cream has been on my "to-make" list for some time now.  I'm definitely a chocolate person all the way, but I find a scoop of rich, pure vanilla bean ice cream completely irresistible.  Granted, I typically like my vanilla ice cream topped off with a generous drizzle of hot fudge, or a few spoonfuls of a freshly made berry compote, but every now and then I'll come across a vanilla ice cream that is just so good, it needs absolutely nothing else to finish it off.  It's the kind of ice cream that I just can't help but grab just a spoonful of straight from the container whenever I happen to pass through my kitchen.  This, is that kind of ice cream.  

This vanilla bean ice cream recipe comes straight from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, a book that any ice cream lover must have in their collection of cookbooks.  Whenever I decide on a recipe to try out, I typically will make a few changes here and there for the flavorings used to suit my own tastes; I'll add a little less sugar, a few more chocolate chips, swap in some buttermilk or Greek yogurt for milk.  I just like to play around with recipes and see what happens.  In this instance though, I knew from the beginning that I was going to leave this vanilla bean ice cream recipe alone.  My logic was that if it was written by David Lebovitz, then it needed no further tweaking.  Let's just say that I'm glad I left this recipe alone and made no changes to it...the recipe was perfect on its own!

Like I said before, this recipe was one that I had been meaning to try out for a long time.  I had actually been planning to make it during Mother's Day weekend to go along with my Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler, but when it came down to it, I ended up not having enough time or heavy cream to actually make the ice cream.  I was disappointed, but my laziness prevented me from leaving my house for heavy cream and I figured that not having enough time to make the recipe was my own fault for being so easily distracted and having poor time management skills.  It was my own fault!  For this weekend though, I made sure to plan ahead and buy my heavy cream in advance.  There was no stopping this vanilla bean ice cream from happening anymore!

Ice cream is one of those things that looks intimidating to prepare, but is in fact really not so bad to put together. I felt nervous the first time I made ice cream, because I couldn't help but think that I would end up with a huge saucepan full of milky scrambled eggs.  Once I learned the trick to avoiding the scrambled egg outcome, I've been making perfectly silky smooth and creamy ice creams.  My trick is simple: add the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks slower than you think you need to.  It's easy.  I pour the cream mixture into the eggs in a really, really, really slow stream.  I think that if anyone were watching me make ice cream they would think that I was being a little extreme in my efforts and overly cautious, but that would be perfectly alright with me, because in the end I'm left with perfect ice cream.  A little ridiculousness is worth it!

This vanilla bean ice cream comes together effortlessly.  Granted, there is a bit of planning ahead needed, but this is no different than any other ice cream recipe.  I like to allow my ice cream custard to chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, but if I can, I'll let it chill overnight in the fridge to really let the flavors develop.  This vanilla bean ice cream was perfect, and I say was because I don't have any left- that's how good it was.  This ice cream is rich and creamy and has a wonderful vanilla flavor.  It's the quintessential vanilla ice cream that will eventually become a staple in your freezer.  It's perfect for pairing with brownies, cobblers, pies, waffle cones, and banana splits, but it's also perfect for just enjoying a spoonful straight from the container.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
recipe from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz


2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract


In a saucepan set over medium heat, combine 1 cup of heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, and salt, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture.  Toss in the vanilla bean pod and cover the saucepan.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let the mixture steep at room temperature for thirty minutes.  In the meantime, pour the remaining cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and rest a fine-mesh sieve on top.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until they are pale in color.  Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks in a very steady and gradual stream, making sure to whisk the egg yolks constantly.  Pour this mixture back into the saucepan.  

Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape along the bottom of the pan as you stir.  The mixture will begin to thicken; remove the saucepan from the heat once the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. 

Pour the hot custard through the fine-mesh sieve and stir it into the cream (with the vanilla bean).  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Place the bowl with the custard into an ice bath, stirring occasionally until the custard has cooled to about room temperature.  Cover the custard with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, 8 hours or overnight. 

When you're ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean and pour the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, freezing according to your manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the soft ice cream to a freezer safe container, and let the ice cream sit in the freezer for a few hours to harden.  Enjoy!

Makes 1 quart ice cream


  1. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream, nothing better. And you did an amazing job with this recipe. LOVE the pictures!

  2. Hi! How much sugar is in your recipe? Because it just says "sugar" ;)

    1. Wow, I can't believe I forgot to add the quantity for such an important ingredient! Thanks for catching that! 3/4 cup of sugar is needed for the recipe.

  3. Well, I made this, and I am afraid I curdled the custard by putting it on direct heat (although on its lowest setting) Next time I will use a double boiler and a thermometer set-up, so that it doesn't exceed 170 F.

    1. Sorry to hear that it didn't work out for you. Hopefully everything will work next time- good luck!


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