Classic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Ahhhh~~~ ice cream… Nothing beats hearing the familiar tinkling of a bell rung by the ice cream man, and then licking a ball of ice cold milky cream topped on a crispy golden biscuit cone. Walk under the blazing sun and fret over the sticky liquid going all over your fingers. It’s okay if it got messy, the sweetness of the dessert will solve it all. Drop it and it’s the end of the world (I have too many of such memories in my childhood to understand its traumatic effects).
With our current freak weather (Singapore’s getting too hot for comfort these days), ice cream is our only solace to calm our nerves and cool our souls. It is odd how such a simple item can bring so much joy and satisfaction into our lives. Try walking down the street with a cone of ice cream or a ice popsicle, then, be very aware of the stares you get as you walk by. The ice cream can be a very good attention-seeking tool.
When we got our little sticks of vanilla, we knew we had to make our own stash of vanilla ice cream. It might be the most common flavour but I swear that using proper real vanilla is a whole new world altogether. The flavour of the vanilla deepens and the intense smokey notes have a stronger presence that is usually overpowered by the cream. For once, we could appreciate vanilla ice cream as the main star rather than the accompaniment it has always been.
Classic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz (The Perfect Scoop)
Makes 1 litre / 1 quart
250ml milk, full-fat
A pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, spilt lengthwise
500ml heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk, then add the vanilla bean pod to the milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over low heat, then remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl, until pale and creamy. Pour the milk slowly, like a ribbon into the egg mixture, whisking well as you do so.
Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart / 2 litre bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the small bowl and pour the heavy cream into the bowl.
Return the egg mixture to the pan and place over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the mixture reaches 85C or the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. (To test, lift the spatula out of the custard and draw a line down the back of the spoon. If the line stays clean, the custard is ready.) You have just made crème anglaise / custard!
Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill for 2-3 hours.
Remove the vanilla pod and transfer the chilled mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer, with plastic wrap on the surface, then covered with a lid.
You can wash and dry the vanilla pod and keep it in a jar of sugar, which will give you vanilla-flavoured sugar for use in all your baking.
It is essential to cook the custard at low heat and to stir it constantly to prevent it from scrambling. It will definitely take some time before the custard reaches the ready stage but you should never leave its side – they are needy in that way.. Be patient and keep standing by their side, cheering them on by stirring and you’ll get the most amazing custard ever.
If you’re making custard / crème anglaise, you can stop before you strain it into the heavy cream. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with cling film to prevent it from forming a skin, then store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Custard / crème anglaise can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Vanilla ice cream can be kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Do note that if the ice cream spends too long in the freezer, the texture can change and if not covered properly, they can get icy and pick up other flavours from the freezer. Always cover with plastic wrap on the surface, then cover with a lid.