Vanilla ice cream is a timeless, classic dessert that has been enjoyed by people all around the world for centuries. It is made from a mixture of cream, sugar, and vanilla, which is then churned and frozen to achieve a smooth, creamy texture. The flavor of vanilla ice cream is derived from the vanilla bean, a tropical orchid native to Mexico and Central America. The bean’s seeds, or the extract made from them, impart a rich, aromatic flavor to the ice cream.
Vanilla ice cream can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to a variety of desserts, such as pies, cakes, and fruit. It is also used as a base for other ice cream flavors and can be dressed up with a range of toppings, such as chocolate sauce, caramel, and nuts.
Here’s a simple recipe to make homemade vanilla ice cream:
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- Pinch of salt
- Prepare the custard base: In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and milk. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. If using a vanilla bean, add it along with the seeds to the saucepan, allowing the flavor to infuse into the cream mixture.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, and, if using, the vanilla extract. Gradually pour about half of the warm cream mixture into the sugar, whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from curdling.
- Combine the mixtures: Slowly pour the tempered sugar mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly.
- Cook the custard: Heat the combined mixture over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This should take about 5-8 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture boil, as this can cause it to curdle.
- Strain and chill: Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. If using a vanilla bean, discard it after straining. Allow the custard to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight to ensure it is thoroughly chilled.
- Churn the ice cream: Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually for about 20-25 minutes, until it reaches a soft-serve consistency.
- Freeze: Transfer the churned ice cream to a lidded container and freeze it for at least 4 hours or overnight, allowing it to firm up to a scoopable consistency.
This recipe yields approximately 1 quart (about 1 liter) of vanilla ice cream. Homemade vanilla ice cream has a rich, authentic flavor that is sure to delight your taste buds. Enjoy it on its own or with your favorite dessert to create a memorable treat.