Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Voluptuous vanilla

Last week, we made our first ice cream of the summer. We've decided that we should be making it more often, so we have plans to make several different flavors as the summer unfolds. Homemade ice cream is just plain wonderful, isn't it? I'm loving it now, but I was really intimidated by the idea until a few years ago. It was the custard part that worried me, I think. I was concerned about cooking it wrong and getting scrambled eggs in sweet cream. But now I see that it's actually very easy and that having good recipes makes all the difference. Good ingredients matter too, of course, and when you make your own, you know exactly what's in it.

I prefer ice cream without lots of "stuff" in it, such as nuts, chocolate bits, candy, etc. I really love simpler flavors and smoother textures. Vanilla ice cream is actually one of my favorite kinds. I never tire of the scent or the flavor of vanilla. Everyone seems to enjoy vanilla ice cream; it's simple but versatile. We've made a lot of different vanilla ice cream recipes in our ice cream machine, some more successful than others. We tried a new one this time, from our favorite ice cream book, The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever by Peggy Fallon. This really is an awesome book, the title does not lie. I have the popular Ben & Jerry's book as well, but I think Fallon's recipes are easier and they just seem to come out better for me. I've loved everything I've made from Fallon's book, and have plans for several more of her recipes in the near future.

The recipe we tried this time is called Voluptuous Vanilla Ice Cream. One look at the recipe and you'll see why it has such a suggestive name. It's totally lush. It's a play on the standard French vanilla recipe, but with even more egg yolk. Lots of vanilla extract too, but not vanilla bean. I think this is because the richer base needs a stronger punch of vanilla flavor; vanilla bean's subtle flavor might be lost in all that egg. Anyway, there are different kinds of vanilla ice cream; this one is the rich, full-bodied, lush kind.

Voluptuous Vanilla Ice Cream (from The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever by Peggy Fallon)
Makes about 5 cups 

3 cups half-and-half or light cream
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, heavy cream, and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, 6 to 8 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the warm cream. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (at least 160 degrees on a candy thermometer), 5 to 10 minutes. Do not boil or the egg yolks will curdle.

Strain the custard into a bowl and partially cover. Let cool 1 hour at room temperature. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate, covered, until very cold, at least 6 hours or as long as 3 days.

Pour the custard into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a covered container and freeze at least three hours or as long as 3 days.

This was the best vanilla ice cream we've made yet, for several reasons. One, it was downright amazing. The richness of the eggs and the heavy scent and flavor of vanilla made it clear why Fallon calls it voluptuous. Also, the high proportion of half-and-half to heavy cream was a good idea. Other recipes which use more heavy cream have tended to be greasy, in my experience. They leave a coating of fat in your mouth. This felt lighter and cleaner, while still being lush. Finally, this ice cream didn't have that icy, brittle texture that some homemade ice creams develop. It only started to feel slightly icy after it had been in the freezer for a couple of days. Until then, it remained smooth and creamy, which was really nice. We will definitely make this one again.

Some notes and suggestions from my own experience with the recipe:

* Use the finest sieve or strainer you have (for removing bits of cooked egg from the custard). A mesh colander worked well for me.

* I've had bad luck with "coating a spoon" directives in ice cream recipes. Now I always rely on temperature (using my Thermapen).

* Use good-quality pure vanilla extract. There's a lot of extract in this recipe and you will want the best flavor.

* We chilled the custard overnight, as we usually do. The longer, the better, in our experience. We have an ice cream maker that requires ice and salt to achieve freezing, and it helps a lot to have the custard very cold when it goes in the canister. Your mileage may vary depending on your machine, of course.

* Don't skimp on any ingredients. When I first started making ice cream, I thought I could make it "healthier" by playing around with the cream amounts, to varying degrees of success (but mostly pretty low). I decided to be honest with myself: ice cream will never be a health food. If I keep it to an every-few-weeks treat in the summertime, it's okay to enjoy it in its full-fat, full-sugar form. And it makes ice cream that my family adores, and I don't feel I've wasted ingredients either. Everybody wins.


  1. WOW! Yummy! I love to eat ice creams.

  2. Home made ice-cream is the best isn't it. Your recipe sounds perfect. I like to have my own ice-cream a lot softer than shop-bought ones and I imagine that would work well with this one. It's not ice-cream weather here at the moment though - more hot soup weather today. Howling winds and rain lashing the windows. You'd love it as much as I do I think! CJ xx

  3. Sounds delicious, I've never made home-made ice-cream, must give it a go!

  4. Sounds delicious, definitely one I will be trying.

  5. I prefer vanilla ice cream too - then I can add all sorts of toppings to it if I want. :o)

  6. Oh how I wish I could eat dairy products! Yummy!

  7. Sounds so good, but quite a bit of work. I've never made ice cream where you had to cook part of it.

  8. We make ice cream all the time to use up alottment fruit from the garden but last week I made mango Ice cream because they were on offer in the shop. It was a smooth texture but it tasted a bit like cucumber! It needed passion fruit to lift the mango flavour. Keep posting. Jo x

  9. Oh my goodness that looks and sounds delicious! I love French vanilla ice cream. But I must confess, I love the fancier ice creams with all the things added. Nuts, marshmallows, Oreo cookies, cherries...just about anything! I've thought about getting an ice cream maker, but I eat too much ice cream as it is. I don't need to be making it. Ha ha! Have a lovely remainder of the week Jennifer.
    Blessings, Betsy

  10. It looks yummy. Have a great ice cream eating weekend. :) x

  11. I've never made homemade ice cream, but this sounds really good. I think I need the thermapen too!

  12. That looks delicious, I really don't think you can beat vanilla. I've never made homemade ice cream, we don't really eat enough of it to warrant buying an ice cream maker.

  13. This sounds delicious Jennifer. I prefer fruity flavours myself, wild strawberries ice cream being my favourite. I have only ever made sorbets but maybe this year, I am trying my hand at ice cream. Enjoy it while it lasts! x

  14. Homemade ice cream is one of life's frugal luxuries! Like you, vanilla is by far my favourite flavour, so I think I'll be giving your recipe a try. Have you ever tried scraping the inside of a vanilla bean into your ice cream mix? It's lovely to see all those little brown bits in your bowl when you serve it up.

  15. Loving your approach to the full fat ice cream! Yes, enjoy it in it's rich, lush glory, just don't eat it every day. This sounds amazing. Every summer we vow to use our ice cream maker more. Maybe this summer. X

  16. Loving your approach to the full fat ice cream! Yes, enjoy it in it's rich, lush glory, just don't eat it every day. This sounds amazing. Every summer we vow to use our ice cream maker more. Maybe this summer. X

  17. Yum! Making homemade ice cream is a happy social event to me, using a hand crank maker. Once the ice cream recipe has been decided on and followed then comes the fun of taking turns turning the crank to churn it! Who can crank the longest and fastest and who will be the one to be rewarded with realizing the ice cream is so hard one can stop cranking? xx


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