I got an ice cream maker on Sunday (picture me doing a happy dance right now) as an early Chanukah present. In anticipation of that awesome gift, I picked up a book from the library that I had been hearing lots of good things about — Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
Let me tell you, it was love at first sight. This book is definitely going to be added to my ever-growing cookbook collection.
To start with, I love that her ice creams are made without egg yolks. I’m lazy, and I hate separating eggs. Instead, she uses cornstarch to thicken the ice creams (which also absorbs water, keeping your ice cream free of ice crystals), and a small amount of cream cheese to help bind the ingredients.
And the flavors of her ice creams? INSANE (and I mean that in a good way). Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Ice Cream. Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Red Cherries. Olive Oil Ice Cream with Sea-Salted Pepitas. And those are just a few of the many that I can’t wait to try out.
Despite all those awesome flavors, I decided to start with Vanilla Bean. I love vanilla. And since I just received an order of beautiful vanilla beans, I knew that this would be a perfect way to use one of them.
This recipe did NOT disappoint! It’s smooth, creamy, and not too sweet. It’s pretty much perfection.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (NOT high-fructose corn syrup! I used Wilton’s glucose)
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds and bean reserved
1) Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
2) Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and the vanilla bean and seeds in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the pan to the heat, and bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
3) Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon ziptop freezer bag, and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
4) Remove the vanilla bean from the mixture. Process according to your ice cream maker’s directions until thick and creamy. When done, transfer to a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Makes about 1 quart
Since I wasn’t in a rush, I didn’t bother putting my ice cream base into a ziptop bag and submerging it in an ice bath. I just put it in a storage container and left it in the fridge until very cold, and the processed it in my ice cream maker.
You can use a 3-quart saucepan to cook your base in, as I did, but be very careful to lower the flame as soon as your base starts boiling, or it will boil over. Trust me.
*Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer