You guys. I think I finally nailed it. After years of trying recipe after recipe, I came up with my own fool proof vanilla ice cream base.
And it’s just been such a trial and error thing. Vanilla ice cream base is a lot like chocolate chip cookies. The ingredients in chocolate chip cookies are pretty much the same across the board (with a few exceptions here and there) but it’s the ratio to ratio and method that sets each recipe apart from others and makes them unique. It’s like this with vanilla ice cream too.
I finally decided that I like my ice cream to have a little bit of milk, a little bit of cream, and even more half and half. I’ve tried adding 5 egg yolks, 6 egg yolks, and even as little as 2 egg yolks, but in the end, 8 egg yolks is what gives me the consistency and richness I like.
And it finally passed my picky daughter test who always let’s me know when my recipes are just not cutting it. But she LOVES this recipe.
So, just to warn you, I have ice cream recipes coming. Oh, do I have ice cream recipes coming.
But in my defense, I am just *so* excited about this recipe, that it is hard not to (over) share. #sorrynotsorry
This recipe is my building block recipe, the recipe I use as a base for all kinds of ice creams. It’s important to nail down a base that you really like.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! I have a BIG list of tips and trips for making homemade ice cream, so keep reading.
First of all, I use a Cuisinart two quart ice cream maker and I absolutely love it. (No one has paid me anything to say that but this is an affiliate link.) I no longer use the salt and ice ice cream maker models. This is all I need and want for the rest of my life and forever and always. I actually have two of them. So let me give you a few tips I have learned over the years about this particular model.
–The cylinder needs to be frozen in a deep freeze. It just doesn’t do as well in my regular freezer because I don’t set my regular freezer settings to freeze things super hard.
–When you store it in the freezer, you need to store it clean and ready to use. There is a reason for this. When you get it out of the freezer you don’t want to wipe it clean or wash it because a rag will stick to the inside of it because it is super cold. (Think about putting your tongue on a frozen faucet in the middle of winter. It will stick. Same thing here.) So this is what I do: I wash it, dry it, cover the the top with plastic wrap to keep out anything that would fall into it in the freezer, then secure with a rubber band. Then I place it in a plastic grocery bag with handles and it goes into the freezer. (After it is frozen, it is SUPER cold and the grocery bag just with handles makes it easier to carry so my hands don’t freeze.) When I want to use it, I just pour the ice cream base in feeling confident that it is clean and ready to go. I store it like this:
–The only thing I don’t love about this particular model is that two quarts is not enough ice cream for us. First world problem, I know.
Ice Cream Making Notes:
–Now, I have made all kinds of ice cream in my day, and I am certainly NOT going to turn my nose up at eggless recipes, but, in my humble opinion, an egg based recipe is always richer and smoother and has the edge over non-egg varieties. Do I still make non-egg varieties? YES and I love them. But this recipe is my current favorite.
–This. Is. Important. I strongly believe refrigeration time for the base is crucial to a smooth ice cream. At the very minimum, four hours, but I am telling ya, I always chill my base overnight, when no one is opening and closing the fridge to let all the cold air out and it can just set in there undisturbed and chill.
–Eggs are more easily separated when they are cold.
–I like to beat the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer to a pale yellow color. This is my preferred method to get them thick and rich, but you could use a hand whisk.
–A candy thermometer is a really good investment. I just heat my milk, cream, and half and half mixture to 170 degrees.
–Tempering the eggs is just getting the eggs used to heat a little bit at a time. Add about a half cup full of the hot milk mixture while whisking constantly until about a third of the milk mixture is added will keep you from having scrambled eggs.
–But speaking of scrambled ages, it doesn’t matter how well I temper the eggs, I always, always have a few little pieces of scrambled eggs at the end. This is why one of my final steps is to strain the mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer. See:
–Now, when you have added the egg mixture back into the milk mixture, just cook until the mixture thickens. It will coat the back of a wooden spoon and when you draw your finger across it, it will leave a visible mark.
–I like to use a tallish pitcher to strain my ice cream into. It doesn’t take up as much space in the fridge, and it has a pouring spout to make pouring it into the ice cream maker easy.
–I almost always make my ice cream base the day before I want ice cream. It’s such a cinch to pour it in and turn on the button. All of the mess has been cleaned up the day before. Yay!
–The amount of vanilla is adjustable. Sometimes I add a whole tablespoon.
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place the half-and-half, milk, and heavy cream in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to just a simmer, (just before scalding at 170 degrees on a candy thermometer), stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the the egg yolks on medium speed with a hand-mixer until they are light in color. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick and pale yellow in color.
- Temper the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture by gradually adding about ½ cup of cream mixture at a time to the egg mixture, until about a third of the cream mixture has been added, whisking constantly while you are adding the cream mixture.
- Whisk the egg mixture back into the cream mixture in the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or container with a pouring spout on it. Stir in the vanilla extract. Refrigerate for at least four hours to overnight. (Overnight is best and yields the smoothest consistency.)
- Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer to a freezer proof container (I like to use a loaf pan) and place in freezer to desired firmness is reached. About 2 quarts of ice cream.