I’d purchased vanilla beans a while ago from my favorite spice shop, Penzey’s, and was waiting for the perfect occasion to make vanilla bean ice cream. When I decided on pecan pie for a Thanksgiving dessert I knew this ice cream would be the perfect companion.
Domestocrat’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (I made a double batch for Thanksgiving but you could halve this to make a single one.)
6 cups 2% milk
1.5 cups sugar
10 large egg yolks
6 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 vanilla beans, split and seeded
Basically I used my standard ice cream recipe (custard based) and added the vanilla to it. The absolute key to this recipe is real vanilla beans and good vanilla extract:
Start by making the base of your ice cream “batter”…
Combine the milk and vanilla in a deep sauce pot. Combine the sugar and salt in a separate bowl. Heat your milk and vanilla over low heat. When it just starts to steam, add in your sugar and salt. Stir to combine. After roughly 10 minutes the sugar and salt should have dissolved into the milk mixture.
While the sugar and milk mixtures are coming together, scrape the seeds from your vanilla beans. The Penzey’s container has a pretty good guide for doing this but since I’ve watched Ina Garten do it a million times, I didn’t really need it.
Get your sharpest paring knife, slit each bean down the center, spread open in half, and lightly scrape the seeds out with the edge of your knife.
Add all of the vanilla bean seeds to the dissolved sugar/milk mixture. Stir vigorously. As the vanilla bean seeds are stirred and warm up, they will separate. Heat for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat until the mixture just starts to bubble.
The next step is to prepare the eggs for tempering. Separate the yolks from the whites (I save my whites for omelets, etc.). Whisk the yolks together in a bowl.
To temper the eggs: Take a cup of the hot mixture and slowly pour it into the bowl of yolks, whisking quickly and constantly. You have to do this slowly or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. I mixed in just about 3 cups of my hot mixture before the temperature was up high enough to pour the entire bowl back into my saucepan without scrambling the eggs.
After the eggs are fully incorporated into the mixture, heat the mixture (now a custard, really) over low heat until it has fully thickened. This takes 15-20 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil. Stir continually.
When my custard was finished I let it cool on the counter (about 2 hours). I then covered it and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
I get the best ice cream results with a fully chilled “batter” and a totally frozen attachment bowl. According to your ice cream mixer manufacturer’s instructions, mix the batter until it becomes ice cream. For my KitchenAid, this takes 20-30 minutes.
When my batter had thickened and frozen in the ice cream attachment, I poured into tupperware containers and kept in the freezer until we were off to New Jersey! This was a great made ahead and the ice cream kept fine in an ice filled cooler in the trunk on our drive.