This is the story of a marriage. Ever since I bought a KitchenAid ice cream attachment last year, I always have homemade vanilla ice cream in the freezer. At first I used David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream recipe, which is pretty darn good. When I saw that Cook’s Illustrated had taken the recipe one step closer to perfection, I knew I had to try their methods to see if the recipe produced significantly different results.
My husband I have a long standing joke in our house. When I’m making dinner and the kitchen is a disaster and there are timers going off everywhere and I can’t even take a break to give him a welcoming kiss, he always asks, “Is tonight’s dinner a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated?” He knows their recipes are famously complicated and involve using waaaaaay too many dishes for our own good (which he, as resident dish washer, does not appreciate). We both agree that sometimes the extra steps are necessary for perfection (as in our favorite broccoli beef stir fry) and other times they feel a little more like hocus pocus (like in our favorite Scottish Oats recipe). This ice cream recipe fell somewhere in the middle, so I pared down the steps that I didn’t feel were necessary. Here is a very reasonable – and delicious! – alternative. I’d like to call it a marriage between the two vanilla ice creams. Try it and I guarantee you’ll love it!
By the way, you may be like me and fear the corn syrup in this recipe. Cook’s Illustrated noted in their recipe that they tried several alternatives, but only corn syrup provided the creaminess that they were aiming for.
homemade vanilla ice cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream (preferably organic)
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk (preferably organic)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar (divided)
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Place an 8- or 9-inch-square metal baking pan in freezer. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds. Combine the vanilla bean, seeds, cream, milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat.
While cream mixture heats, whisk yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk the heated cream mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 minutes. Prepare a large bowl with a fine-mesh strainer placed on top. Pour the custard into the strainer. Discard remaining bits in the strainer. Add vanilla extract to the custard in the bowl. Let the custard in the bowl cool until no longer steaming, 10 to 20 minutes. Transfer the vanilla bean to the bowl and cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Remove the custard from refrigerator and transfer to an ice-cream machine. Churn until the mixture resembles thick soft-serve ice cream and registers about 21 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to the frozen baking pan and press plastic wrap on the surface. Return the ice cream to the freezer until firm around the edges, about 1 hour.
Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.