A Perfect Birthday Present

A few weeks ago I had a birthday, and for that birthday I received two perfect gifts. One of them was a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer, and the other one was an ice cream maker attachment for it. My parents and David collaborated on these two perfect gifts, and David is already reaping in the bounty of homemade ice cream since just the other night I made my very first batch. What fun, this machine does all the stirring and the cranking for me!

I grew up with a hand cranked ice cream maker. Summertime dinners often ended with my sisters and I passing the ice cream maker around, impatiently waiting the requisite three minutes between each turn. Three sisters. Three turns of the crank each way. Three minutes to wait. I should have been practicing my multiplication tables, but instead I would sit and anxiously wait, scolding my little sisters if they tried to give the handle an extra turn. I thought that somehow if we missed a beat our ice cream would fail. I’m sure we missed a lot of beats, but we never did mess up the ice cream. No more counting turns for me now though! I’m looking forward to a summer of new ice cream flavors… but to start, here is an old favorite and a timeless classic: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I cut the amount of sugar down for my version, so if you like your ice cream especially sweet I would toss in a bit extra. Vanilla bean can easily be substituted with 2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract, but then you don’t get the fun little black dots in your ice cream.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
makes about 1 pint

2 cups heavy cream
1¼ cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out into the mixture, then toss in the pieces of the pod. Heat the mixture over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until just mixed.
Gradually add half of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then return the mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, about ten minutes.
Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the mixture through it in order to catch the pieces of the vanilla pod and any bits of egg that might have cooked.
Allow the mixture to cool, and then chill in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 3 hours and up to two days ahead of freezing it, and then freeze according to the instructions provided with your ice cream maker.

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