If there’s one thing that I love, it’s ice cream.
I think I learned my love for ice cream from my dad. I remember going for ice cream in the summer. We’d all get cones, and he would always finish his first… And then selflessly volunteer to “help” us with ours. (I did sometimes let him help a bit, especially if it was a hot day and the ice cream was melting faster than I could eat it.) These days, though, I’m perfectly capable of finishing my ice cream all by myself. A little too capable, actually.
A while ago we decided to get an ice cream maker. This was a surprisingly hard task. We found one at Sears that was really tiny. I also liked the idea of the ice cream maker bowl and paddle for our Kitchen Aid mixer, but the price was a bit steep.
We eventually stumbled upon a huge cache of ice cream makers at Home Outfitters. We bought the Deni Ice Cream Maker (with candy crusher!) and brought it home to try out right away.
It took some trial and error to find a recipe that we liked. I didn’t want to have to bother with recipes with eggs (and besides, that’s not ice cream – it’s frozen custard), so we set about figuring out the best combo of ingredients for our tastes. One recipe was too crunchy – it was more frozen milk than ice cream. Another tasted like sugary butter – very, very rich, and not really to my tastes.
Finally my husband broke out an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the optimal percent of butterfat that our mixture should have (gotta love being married to a geek!) The resulting flavours and mouthfeel are just perfect. Now that we have a good base down, we’re set to experiment!
To make my husband’s vanilla bean ice cream, you will need:
* 1 whole vanilla bean (look in a gourmet food store or the baking section of a well-stocked supermarket)
* 1 1/2 cup whole milk (3.25%)
* 1 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 pinch salt
Mix the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low-ish heat. You want to be able to control what temperature the milk gets to, and if it heats too quickly it may scald.
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and flatten it out. With the back of the knife, scrape the inside of the vanilla bean out. (You’ll get lots of seeds and pulp. It’s good, good stuff.) Put the seeds and pulp into the milk mixture as it heats. Toss the emptied vanilla bean husk in too, why not!
Carefully heat the milk mixture to 170°F. My husband uses his handy-dandy touchless IR thermometer from Think Geek, but you can also use a candy thermometer. Constantly stir the milk so that no hot patches form in the liquid. As soon as the milk mixture reaches 170°F, remove it from the heat.
Allow the milk mixture to cool a bit, then pour it into a container with a lid. Store it in the fridge overnight to let the mixture chill completely and the flavours mature.
When you’re ready to make ice cream, remove the ice cream maker bowl from the freezer (you did remember to freeze it overnight, right?) and assemble the appliance. Remove the vanilla bean husk from the milk mixture. Turn the machine on and slowly pour the milk mixture into the machine.
It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the ice cream to reach soft-serve consistency. Using a spatula, pour the ice cream into a freezer container. Freeze the ice cream for a few more hours to give it a more firm texture.
Scoop and enjoy.