Gam’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Gam’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Cool Beans
This has been the Summer of Experimentation in my house. I am never quite sure what I will walk into when I get home. Because, for lack of a better term, my daughter is bored.

To battle this, she’s been spending her time watching food network and cooking. Her brothers (and their friends) are making out like bandits. By the time they get home from baseball, there are plenty of “snacks” for them to eat. Sometimes it’s cookies and sometimes it’s biscuit BLTs. Yesterday I came home to raspberry whipped cream filled cream puffs, because sure. Why not? It is for this reason that we made homemade ice cream for the 4th of July.

There is a history of ice cream making in the family. My grandmother used to make ice cream in the summer for Sunday dinner. It was really good but it was such a production. Gam had this Italian monstrosity of a gelato maker that she was incredibly proud of. But, it was so heavy she had to wait for my dad to get there so he could lift it onto the counter. Not gonna lie though, that machine made fantastic ice cream.

The Il Gelataio was also very loud. Gam fired that thing up right after dinner and made sure we were all waiting with baited breath listening for when the sound changed—meaning that the ice cream was almost ready. (Heaven forbid we actually talk to each other and not hear the sound change. That would be tragic.)

Her passion for the Il Gelataio was probably only matched by her strong opinions about the flavors of ice cream she would make in it. Coffee was one of her favorites as was strawberry or peach. But, if there was one flavor to rule them all it was Vanilla Bean. Not just vanilla. Vanilla Bean. She was adamant about that. (My sister is probably reading this with tears rolling down her face from laughter.) Gam was a bit obsessive about it. Even when Gam would buy ice cream at the store it would never be straight up vanilla. Nope. Vanilla Bean. (And don’t get me started on which brand she thought was the right one…)

For the 4th we made two flavors. The first is a coffee ice cream with crushed Oreos in it. The second, of course, will be vanilla bean.

I did mess with it a bit. Since it was served alongside some apple pie, I swirled some dulce de leche in when it was still soft and then threw it in the freezer to harden. It’s a nod to my grandmother with a hint of rebelliousness ‘cause nothing says Fourth of July like a little rebellion!

Gam’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart

Ingredients
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split, (or 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract for the less obsessive)
4 egg yolks

Directions
Heat the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla beans in a heavy-bottomed saucepan stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk briefly. While whisking, slowly pour 1 cup of the hot liquid in with the yolks. When the mixture is smooth, slowly pour it into the saucepan with the rest of the liquid, whisking constantly.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 8 minutes). Be careful not to let the mixture boil at any time or it will curdle.

Scrape the seeds from the beans into the custard base. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it to the base after straining.) Strain the mixture into a clean bowl and let cool.

This base can be made ahead and kept in the fridge overnight.

Pour the cooled mixture into ice cream maker and process according to device directions.

Note: If you wish to add dulce de leche to your ice cream, here are two good recipes. Or pick up a jar of San Ignacio Dulce de Leche—it’s with the ice cream sauces on our frozen aisle. 

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