Friday, May 21, 2010

"Plain" Vanilla Ice Cream

The phrase "plain vanilla" will always seem sacrilegious to me now.  Once you make vanilla ice cream with a generous helping of vanilla extract and the seeds of a vanilla bean, your vanilla ice cream will be anything but plain.  I had always been somewhat daunted by the prospect of buying and using a vanilla bean, but I'm not sure why.  I'd seen the Barefoot Contessa cut one open and scrape out the seeds plenty of times.  Wanilla beans are most likely found at gourmet markets (Whole Foods probably has 'em).  Mine came in a packet of three for about $3, which seemed pretty reasonable to me, considering all the flavor they pack.  And now that I've conquered my fear of vanilla beans, the world is my oyster.  Ugh, but I'd have to conquer my hatred of oysters first, I suppose.

Another simple ice cream recipe - all you need for this Philadelphia-style ice cream is 3 cups heavy cream, 3/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 vanilla bean, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Whole Foods sells a straight-from-the-farm type of cream that works great for these types of recipes where your simple ingredients really matter.

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add 3/4 cups sugar and a pinch of salt.

Split the vanilla bean from head to toe and then scrape out the seeds into the sauce pan.  Those little buggers are tiny!  Then place the vanilla bean in the saucepan to add extra flavor.

Once you mix it around the bean will become a little less unruly.

Warm the pot over medium and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  This took a surprisingly short amount of time for me - perhaps 5 minutes or less.

What an appetizing mixture!

Now add in the remaining 2 cups of cream and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Feel some relief now that your ice cream isn't so gross looking.

Pour everything (including that bean) into a large bowl, cover, and place in the fridge to cool before freezing.

When you're ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean because your ice cream will look a little funny with a stick in it.  Churn according to your machine's instructions.  I let mine go for 40 minutes or so.

And John and I were greeted with the most perfect, simple dessert of all.  Freshly churned vanilla ice cream.  I topped mine with chocolate sauce the first couple of days, and then for the last two I decided I wanted the unadulterated vanilla flavor and went "plain vanilla."  I hope everyone isn't tiring of my ice cream posts, because this summer, I'm hoping to make ice cream every weekend.  Or sorbet.  Or sherbet.  Or frozen yogurt.  Yum.

Vanilla Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style

Makes about 1 quart/liter 

3 cups heavy cream (or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup heavy cream into a medium saucepan and add 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt.  Split a vanilla bean from top to bottom and scrape out the seeds with a knife.  Add the seeds to the pan and then add the empty vanilla bean.  Warm the mixture over medium heat, mixing thoroughly until the sugar dissolves (about 5 minutes).  Remove the pan from heat and add in 2 additional cups of cream (or 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk) and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Chill in the fridge for a few hours and then churn in an ice cream maker according the machine's instructions.  Enjoy "plain" or with chocolate sauce.  


  1. If anyone tries to talk Kathy out of her current love affair with all things ice cream, I will hurt you. I am not kidding.

  2. that looks good. i love vanilla ice cream. my dad has a great chocolate sauce recipe using butter, but it hardens on the ice cream. thats the one downside


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