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Nov 2, 2006 11:30 AM

Vanilla Ice Cream

Hey all

Looking for a top notch vanilla ice cream recipe. I'd prefer to use beans rather than extract, although if you could convince me extract is better, I'd do it.

Could I/should I just use my creme brule recipe and process it like ice cream??


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  1. Depending on your recipe, there may not be enough sugar in your creme brulee for ice cream. My favorite creme brulees aren't nearly as sweet as you need ice cream to be. The sugar in ice cream helps to lower the freezing point of those little crystals. With too little sugar, the resulting ice cream will be icy. Also, creme brulee would probably be too much custard than you need for ice cream (that is, too high in the egg to cream ratio).

    Here's my custard-based vanilla ice cream recipe. I assume you are looking for a custard one, given the creme brulee reference. It's simple but very, very good (if I do say so myself). If you can do creme brulee, then you can do custards well. And that means this recipe will be a total cinch.

    Adam’s Vanilla Ice Cream

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 cup milk
    • 6 egg yolks
    • 1 Vanilla bean
    • 3/4 cup sugar (plus some)
    • pinch of salt

    Make Custard:
    cut vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and put it all in a pot with milk, cream, 3/4 cup of sugar and pinch of salt. Heat slowly to 175 degrees. Turn off heat.

    Meanwhile, whip yolks and some sugar (I usually eyeball, but probably ends up being 2-3 tablespoons) until smooth and pale yellow. Temper yolks with small amounts of hot cream mixture (whisking, adding small amounts at a time). Once tempered, add egg mixture into pot with cream. Heat back up to 175, slowly, stirring constantly.

    Strain through fine meshed sieve. Chill to 40 degrees. Freeze in ice cream machine.

    11 Replies
    1. re: adamclyde

      Ya, see, this is what I'm looking for.
      I'm quite familiar with custards. Also make banana pudding and lemon meringue pie. My pumpkin pie filling is a pumpkin custard as well.
      I'm assuming you mean to put the pod in the pot as well. It would be what I'd want to do.


      1. re: Davwud

        I do throw the whole pod in there, along with the split bean and scraped out seeds.

      2. re: adamclyde

        Your recipe looks good, adamclyde. I like mine a bit less rich so use less yolks and equal parts cream and milk. I also use a touch less sugar and include both vanilla bean and extract.

        Anyhow, my question to you is this: Why do you scald the dairy up to 175F? I do bring my custard mixture up to 170-175F like you do in your second step, although I just scald til bubbles form along the edge and it starts to hiss. Just curious if your way has some impact that I didn't know about...I'm worried that the eggs would more likely curdle if the temp. was that high even if I slowly tempered.

        Also, I've been pondering this for some time and this seems to be a good time to ask: I've noticed that some people prefer to add the cold cream at the end (off the heat) after the custard has reached 175F. Some prefer to heat up the cream w/ the custard. I'm in the latter camp, and it looks like you are too. I believe that this will improve the texture and mouthfeel of the ice cream, but I really don't know why, scientifically speaking, this would be true. Thoughts?

        1. re: Carb Lover

          Carb Lover--Have you ever posted your specific vanilla recipe? I remember you working on this a couple of summers ago, and I know you posted a vanilla gelato recipe. Is that what you ended up settling on? Inquiring minds want to know!

          1. re: Carb Lover

            if scott123 chimes in, he's the food science guru of ice cream. but... to answer your questions, the reason I go to 175 with the cream at beginning is possibly habit. That's how I learned. I do seem to remember hearing that it does something to nuetralize whatever it is (enzymes maybe?), leading to more creaminess (less ice crystals, that is). (I think I heard it from CI or alton brown??) But I've never done a side by side compare to see if it makes any difference at all. Probably not a bad idea to try. As to it being too hot to temper, I've never had a problem. I add in drops at a time at first from a spoon, then add slightly more once that is whisked. I also keep tempering, probably ending up adding a full cup to the yolks before I add the whole thing back in the custard. once back in the custard, the whole mixture is usually around 150. then, of course, the slow rise to 175-ish.

            As to adding cream at the end... I suppose we need to test the first premise of why it's important to heat dairy at all before churning. If it is, it would seem adding cream at the end would defeat that. The only reason, to me, it would seem, is to quickly cool down the custard? But an ice bath does that well, it seems.

            You know, I just realized that in my creme fraiche recipe, I add in all the creme fraiche at the very end, once the custard comes off the heat. Not sure why I do that, but it's about the creamiest ice cream I make. hmmm... now I'm perplexed too...

            1. re: adamclyde

              A recent issue of Cook's Illustrated discussed scalding of milk, and at least for the recipe in question, they concluded that it's a habit originally borne of variable quality of dairy products, but is no longer necessary. In their tests, scalding made no difference.

              (I have yet to try it with a batch of ice cream, tho.)

              1. re: ricepad

                I think it must depend on the application. I know that CI did the same test and concluded that it *did* in fact make a big difference for biscuits, but haven't seen anything they said about its use in ice cream. was their discussion about scalding in the context of ice cream?

                1. re: adamclyde

                  No, it was for a chocolate custardy a burnt cream.

              2. re: adamclyde

                According to McGee, heating above 170F denatures the whey proteins, which helps minimize the size of the ice crystals. How exactly that works, he does not say.

                As for tempering into the egg yolks, I have no trouble with scrambling when I whisk the sugar and yolks first, then whisk hot cream into that. Seriously, I dump the entire pan of cream/milk onto the sugar/eggs, whisk, return to pan, cook until thickened then back to the bowl for an immediate ice bath.

                1. re: babette feasts

                  I'm with Alton Brown (and Ricepad) when it comes to scalding milk for ice cream. Here is an excerpt from a Good Eats show entitled "Churn Baby Churn II"

                  "Kick up your favorite neighborhood burner to medium, apply your favorite medium saucepan, and add both the cream and the half-and-half and let this come just to a simmer. Now this step is called "scalding the dairy", and although scientists are still arguing over what is actually achieved here, ...

                  SCIENTIST # 1: It's the proteins.
                  SCIENTIST # 2: It's the enzymes.
                  SCIENTIST # 1: The proteins!
                  SCIENTIST # 2: Enzymes!
                  SCIENTIST # 1: [hits #2's hand, takes his slide rule and throws it on the floor]
                  SCIENTIST # 2: Oww! [pushes #1]
                  SCIENTIST # 1: [pushes #2]
                  SCIENTIST # 2: [lunges toward #1, the camera pans back to AB]

                  ... personally, I think heat changes everything. But when you consider the fact that those dairy products over there have already been heated during pasteurization, ...
                  Named after the father of food science, Louis Pasteur. Yeahhh! [applause]

                  ... I suspect that the real reason has to do with generating enough heat to gently cook the eggs that we will soon be adding to that mixture. And of course, it has to do with extracting flavors, because now is the time that we would be extracting flavor from, say, vanilla beans, if we were using vanilla beans, but we're not using vanilla beans."

                  Taking the milk/cream to 175 is a good idea, as that's pretty close to the target temp for the final creme anglais. As long as you temper the eggs carefully (and it sounds like Adam is), it should save a lot of cooking time (as opposed to starting from a colder temp).

          2. Hey AC

            Thanks for the recipe. I made it yesterday. It is very easy to make. It set up well in my machine. I froze it overnight.
            We tried a little taste this morning before we go to the grocery store since we're serving it at a birthday dinner tonight.
            It's awesome. Rich, luscious, vanillay (What kinda word is that??) and the texture is spot on.

            Thanks again


            1 Reply
            1. re: Davwud

              So glad it turned out well for you. I know what you mean... the vanilla flavor is so fresh in it. Nothing quite like vanilla bean ice cream...