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If you know me, you know I have a love for ice cream. And this love isn’t relegated to summer. No, any time of the year is the right time for good ice cream. But, there is a definite difference in ice creams and not all are created equal.
Growing up, we made ice cream in a White Mountain freezer for special occasions: birthday parties, family get-togethers, and Christmastime. Iowa is cold at Christmas, but one side of my family always has ice cream. Why mess with a perfect tradition, right? A White Mountain makes six quarts of ice cream, but you have to crush a lot of ice and pack it around the cylinder with salt.
Nowadays, many of us have smaller countertop ice cream freezers. You do not need to crush ice, but instead, freeze the canister for 24 hours. It’s easy and almost mess-free, especially when you have the perfect recipe!
What is a true ice cream?
Depending on where you are from, ice cream can have different meanings. In the United States, the most common type of ice cream is from a french custard base: a mixture of milk, cream, egg, and sugar, all cooked together. Once chilled, the mixture is churned at a below-freezing temperature. Air mixes in as it churns and creates… ice cream!
Using this method, the ice cream needs to be churned quick enough and cold enough that the ice crystals stay as small as possible. Otherwise, the texture will seem grainy or icy.
How does ice cream thicken?
Traditionally, egg yolks are used to thicken the ice cream base, upwards of five to eight eggs for a single quart of ice cream. The egg yolk adds richness, but I find with the yolk alone, I never achieve the thick consistency and smooth texture I’m looking for.
Instead, I use a hybrid method consisting of some egg yolk mixed with cornstarch. The addition of cornstarch helps temper the egg yolks so they whisk into the hot ice cream base easily. The cornstarch also thickens the base to help create a perfectly smooth finish.
Watch how to make this vanilla bean ice cream
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp whole milk
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
For the fudge sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the ice cream
- In a 4 quart kettle, combine the 2 cups milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, 5-8 minutes.
- While heating, whisk together the remaining 2 tbsp milk, egg yolks, and cornstarch.
- When the milk and cream mixture begins to simmer throughout, remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return to medium-low heat and whisk until simmering throughout and slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and add the vanilla bean paste. Whisk to combine and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill 6-8 hours.
- Once chilled, pour into the freezer and follow the manufacturer's instructions. This usually takes 20-25 minutes. After churning, the ice cream can be immediately enjoyed as soft serve or poured into a container and frozen for an additional 4-6 hours for a harder consistency.
For the fudge sauce
- In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the water, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Heat in the microwave in 30-second to 1-minute increments until thickened, stirring between heatings, 2-3 minutes in total.
- Once thickened, add the butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Heat slightly before serving.