Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

This is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Not only was this my first time using the ice cream maker that’s been sitting in our basement for a year, but it was my first time ever making homemade ice cream and the first I’d even touched a vanilla bean.

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It felt like a literal recipe for disaster. It felt like diving blindfolded into an ocean infested with sharks with open wounds. It felt like sword-fighting a pirate with one arm tied behind my back and an inch of wood beneath my feet. It felt like…well, you get the picture.

That aside, the world didn’t end. Yes, it was a struggle. There was a little bit of screaming, a little bit of lip-biting, and a good many frustrated sighs.

I’m not selling this recipe very well, am I?

But look at you. You have the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth – yet there’s that upturned chin, that grin of impetuous youth. Oh, I believe in you. (Whoops, I have How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on the brain! The whole musical is on my iPod. Hee hee.)

Really, though, I believe in you. If I can handle this, so can you.

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Truly, in retrospect, it wasn’t bad at all. Making food brings out the perfectionist in me almost more than any other activity, especially when dealing with long direction lists and expensive ingredients like vanilla beans.

(Admittedly, I am a disgusting perfectionist to a fault. To. A. Fault.)

Here’s a run-down (along with additional commentary mostly based on the things I muttered to myself under my breath). After combining the milk and heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) in a sauce pan (see, that’s easy!), you take the vanilla bean, use the sharp tip of a knife to slice it open lengthwise down the middle, and scrape out the little black seeds into the pan with the milk and cream. Don’t forget to add the pod in, too! After you bring it to a boil, let it simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Take a breather. Do some jumping jacks. Feed your cat.

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When the time for simmering is nearly up, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until thick and smooth. The egg yolks will make it incredibly thick. Gently pour in one cup of the hot milk liquid in with the eggs, mix it together, and return it to the sauce pan. Don’t cry when you spill. Stir, stir, stir. Ah, yes, success! It’s starting to look like ice cream. And smell like ice cream. Except it’s not quite ice cream. Yet. Patience.

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(You can’t tell, but I was using a Winnie the Pooh measuring cup. And proud of it.)

Once it’s really thick, transfer it to a bowl and let it come down to room temperature before adding the vanilla extract to ensure the best flavor. From there, allow it to chill completely – up to 6 hours – before allowing the ice cream maker to do its thing.

Thus, one mental breakdown, lots of shouting, many drips, and an infinite number of hours later (ok, maybe only 24 hours)…

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Literally the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The creamiest, the tastiest, the sweetest, the most flavorful – just the best. Vanilla bean ice cream is my favorite to begin with, but this is a whole new level of yum. Beautiful little vanilla bean flecks, although virtually undetectable when going on feel alone, are the key to turning (or should I say churning?) this frozen treat from good to great.

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All that stress for nothing.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (printable recipe here!)
from the Cuisinart’s Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker recipe booklet
makes about 14-1/2 cup servings

[NOTE: Keep in mind that most ice cream maker freezing bowls need to be frozen for up to 24 hours before you make your ice cream, or at least the amount of time it takes to completely freeze the coolant liquid. The maker won’t do its thing unless the bowl is completely frozen.
You can substitute a lower-fat milk for the whole milk (I used 2% since I couldn’t find whole milk) or half-and-half for heavy cream. Keep in mind that this will change the texture and taste of your ice cream.]

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine the milk and cream in a medium sauce pan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise; use the blunt edge to scrape out the seeds into the sauce pan with the milk and cream. Stir in the bean pod as well.
  2. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently (but not constantly).
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Using a mixer, beat on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until the mixture is smooth, thick, and pale yellow, similar to mayonnaise.
  4. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk/cream mixture; discard. Measure out one cup of the hot liquid. With the mixer on low speed, pour the liquid into the egg mixture in a slow stream.
  5. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan; stir to combine with the remnants of the cream.
  6. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla extract. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap placed directly on the custard; chill completely.
  7. Once chilled, pour the custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on, and let mix until thickened, approximately 25-30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refirgerator. Remove from the freezer and allow to warm at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving. Devour.

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