Exceptionally Creamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I have made many tried and true dinners and desserts during this quarantine period- more than usual. I was surprised to realize that I’ve never posted our gold standard and absolute favorite ice cream. This is it. 🙂

The recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeni Britton. I have made it for years! According to the recipe, the ice cream is exceptionally creamy from the inclusion of cornstarch to help thicken the base and cream cheese to make it more scoop-able. I confirm the results. Fabulous.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.  (I use a stainless steel bowl.)
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds.
  5. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes.
  6. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  7. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
  8. Whisk in the salt.
  9. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  10. Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I churn it in the ice cream maker for 25 to 30 minutes.)
  11. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container or loaf pan.
  12. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid or with additional plastic wrap.
  13. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Note: 1 tablespoon of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste can be substituted for the split vanilla bean.

Vanilla Pudding Pops

These creamy popsicles are a great summer treat. The chilled pudding was also absolutely delicious prior to being frozen, making this a dessert that can be enjoyed year-round. 🙂

This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. An easy crowd pleaser.

Yield: 7-10 ice pops (depending on the size of the popsicle mold)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    1. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
    2. Gradually whisk in milk, mixing until ingredients are dissolved. Whisk in egg yolks.
    3. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble sputters. Reduce heat to low; continue to whisk, and cook 1 minute.
    4. Remove from heat, and immediately pour through sieve into bowl; stir in vanilla.
    5. Using a funnel, divide mixture among ice-pop molds.
    6. Chill in refrigerator until cool and thickened, about 1 hour.
    7. Insert pop sticks, and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours and up to 2 weeks.
    8. Dip molds briefly in warm water to release pops.

    Strawberry Ice Cream

    Speaking of strawberry cocktails… the added bonus of this amazing fresh strawberry ice cream is that the sweetened vodka-based macerating liquid makes a wonderful base for a celebratory summer cocktail. Nice! 🙂

    The texture and color of this ice cream was absolutely incredible. It was the perfect use for my precious, freshly-picked strawberries. The ice cream recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; I included a recipe for the bonus cocktail below.

    For the Ice Cream:

    Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

    • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 cups), plus 8 ounces more, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup low-fat milk
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for macerating
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 cup vodka or silver tequila
    1. In a blender or Vitamix, puree halved strawberries with lemon juice and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (You should have 1 1/2 cups of puree; reserve any excess for another use.)
    2. Combine milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
    3. Strain mixture into a bowl set in an ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 5 minutes.
    4. Stir in strawberry puree. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
    5. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vodka. Add chopped strawberries and macerate at room temperature at least 2 hours, or in the refrigerator, covered, up to 12 hours.
    6. Process puree mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it has the texture of soft serve, drain macerated berries (reserving syrup for another use) and fold into ice cream.
    7. Transfer to a loaf pan and freeze, wrapped in plastic, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
    8. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

    For the Bonus Cocktail:

    Yield: 1 cocktail

    • fresh juice from 1/4 large lime
    • 3 oz strawberry-vodka-sugar macerating syrup
    • tonic (for a sweeter cocktail) or seltzer (less sweet), as desired
    1. Combine lime juice and macerated strawberry syrup in a glass.
    2. Fill with ice and top with tonic or seltzer, as desired.

    Fresh Strawberry Gelato

    I am always a little apprehensive to make strawberry ice cream. In the past, I’ve tried various strategies to keep the berries from becoming icy and hard in the finished product. Pureeing the berries in this gelato was the perfect solution. My beautiful freshly picked berries may have helped too. 🙂

    This recipe was adapted from Katrina and Carmelo Turillo, owners of La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans, via Bon Appetit. I didn’t strain the puree, chilled the base overnight in the refrigerator, and churned the gelato for 25 minutes in my ice cream maker. I may add some vanilla extract next time. It was excellent!

    Yield: Makes about 4 cups
    • 3/4 cup sugar (preferably organic)
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
    • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, optional
    1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
    2. Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream.
    3. Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl.
    4. Immerse bowl in prepared ice water to cool, stirring occasionally.
    5. Puree strawberries in processor. Stir into gelato base.
    6. Mix in pomegranate juice and vanilla, if using.
    7. Chill 3 hours or overnight.
    8. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 to 30 minutes.
    9. Transfer to container. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and the container lid; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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    Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

    Forget banana bread, this ice cream is the perfect use for super ripe bananas on the counter! 😉

    I know that the trend is to make healthy banana ice cream, but this one is the real deal. It has puréed bananas in the custard base instead of milk. I added vanilla extract and chocolate chips to make it even more special. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. SO so SO creamy!!

    Yield: About 1 1/2 pints

    For the Fruit:

    • 4 very ripe medium bananas
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • pinch of coarse salt
    • ½ cup buttermilk

    For the Base:

    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 6 large egg yolks
    • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    To Prepare the Fruit:

    1. In a blender, purée bananas, sugar, lemon juice and salt until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

    To Make the Base:

    1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
    3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
    4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
    5. Stir buttermilk and the fruit purée into base. Add the vanilla extract. Cool mixture to room temperature. (I place the bowl into an ice bath.)
    6. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. (I place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the base before placing in it into the refrigerator.)
    7. Churn the base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of processing, add the chocolate chips; continue processing until evenly incorporated.
    8. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed. If storing in the freezer, directly cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap before covering with the lid in order to prevent icing.

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    Two Years Ago:

    Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

    I shared this ice cream base recipe with a friend early in the summer – of course with plans to try it soon myself. When she raved about the strawberry and chocolate versions that she had made, I had to move it to the top of my “to make” list!

    I used the custard base from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark, and added vanilla extract and crushed cookies to make it into one of my favorite flavors. I also chilled the base in an ice bath after cooking in lieu of refrigerating overnight before freezing. We wanted to enjoy it the same day!! 🙂 Very tasty! 🙂

    Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 pints

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 6 large egg yolks
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 20 chocolate cookies with vanilla creme filling such as Oreo cookies or Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s
    1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
    3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
    4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set in an ice bath. Add vanilla extract and stir to mix. Stir intermittently until base is chilled. (Alternatively the base can be cooled to room temperature and the covered and chilled at least 4 hours or overnight.)
    5. Meanwhile, place cookies in a gallon-size zip-lock bag. Crush with a mallet until pieces are desired size.
    6. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions. At the end of churning, add crushed cookies to the machine. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

    One Year Ago:

    Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

    IMG_9538

    Why did I not think of this concoction myself? Ice cream sandwiches are one of the best summer treats. The combination of brownies with ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, and, of course, I am a fan of the “chipwich.” This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. I couldn’t wait to make them after seeing the recipe!

    Even in the freezer, the brownies stayed soft and chewy and were absolutely delicious in this upgrade of an ice cream sandwich. I used salted caramel (slow-churned “light”) ice cream- so many other flavors would be wonderful as well.  I think we will try cookies and cream next time. 🙂 SO GOOD!

    Yield: Makes 12

    • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 pints ice cream, softened
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 10-by-13-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides, then spray paper.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together butter and sugar, then whisk in eggs and salt.
    3. Add flour and cocoa and mix until just smooth. Spread in pan. Bake until brownie is dry to the touch and edges have begun to pull away from pan, 8 minutes (on convection) to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Using paper overhang, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
    4. Transfer brownie to a work surface and cut in half crosswise. Cover pan with a large sheet of plastic wrap and place one cake half on it. Spread with ice cream, invert remaining brownie half on top, and wrap tightly in plastic. After wrapping, gently push the softened ice cream to fill to the edges of the brownie.
    5. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Unwrap, cut into 12 pieces, and serve.

    IMG_9542

    One Year Ago:

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