Think of this Vanilla Custard Ice Cream recipe as the golden gateway to an infinitely customizable ice cream adventure. Rich with egg yolks, cream, and sugar and delicately flavored with vanilla bean, this offers the simple yet perfect scoop of ice cream.
- 1⅓ cups (320 grams) heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
- ⅔ cup (134 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 (7½-inch) vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) egg yolks (4 to 5 large egg yolks)
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together cream, milk, ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar, vanilla bean and reserved seeds, and salt; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until steaming. (Do not boil.) Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 45 minutes.
- Wring out vanilla bean, extracting as much liquid as possible; discard vanilla bean. Heat cream mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until steaming. (Do not boil.)
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar. Gradually add half of warm cream mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Add egg yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture in pan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until an instant-read thermometer registers 178°F (81°C) to 180°F (82°C). (Mixture will lightly coat the back of a metal spoon and hold a trail when a finger is run through.) Remove from heat; pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium heatproof metal bowl set over an ice water bath. Whisk until cream mixture is room temperature (70°F/21°C); cover and refrigerate overnight. (See Notes.)
- Place mixture in bowl in an ice water bath until an instant-read thermometer registers 35°F (1.6°C) to 37°F (2.7°C). Whisk chilled ice cream base, and pour into ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions until thickened to the consistency of soft serve. (See Notes). Spoon into a chilled, airtight, freezer-safe container, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of ice cream; freeze until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.
Churning times may vary depending on the model of ice cream maker. When freshly churning, the base may not look completely smooth, but it will have a very silky, velvety texture and will freeze beautifully.
PRO TIP: From the parts of your ice cream maker to your storage container, it’s important to keep your tools properly chilled when making and packing your ice cream.
A few classics and a number of twists on the Vanilla Custard Ice Cream formula
STRAWBERRY: Skip vanilla bean in the ice cream base. Increase kosher salt to ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams); make base as directed. Trim and chop 12 ounces (340 grams) fresh strawberries (about 2¼ cups). In a medium saucepan, combine chopped strawberries and 6 tablespoons (72 grams) granulated sugar. Let stand for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring frequently and gently mashing berries, until mixture is deep red and the thickness of honey, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl, and refrigerate until completely cool before whisking into chilled ice cream base. Churn as directed.
CHOCOLATE: Skip vanilla bean in the ice cream base; add ¼ cup (21 grams) sifted Dutch process cocoa powder to cream mixture and increase kosher salt to ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) before warming in step 1. Cook as directed. Whisk 2 ounces (57 grams) melted 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate (about ⅓ cup) into warm cream mixture. Whisk in ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla extract. Strain into a medium heatproof metal bowl. Chill and churn as directed.
COOKIES & CREAM: Make Vanilla Custard Ice Cream as directed. Add ¾ cup (75 grams) to 1 cup (100 grams) roughly crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies during final 2 minutes of churning.
MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP: Skip vanilla bean in the ice cream base; cook and cool as directed. When base is completely chilled, whisk in ½ teaspoon (2 grams) peppermint extract and ¼ to ½ teaspoon (1 to 2 grams) vanilla extract. Whisk in green gel food coloring (we used Wilton Kelly Green Icing Color) until desired shade is reached. In the top of a double boiler, combine 2 ounces (57 grams) finely chopped 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate (about ⅓ cup) and 2 teaspoons (10 grams) refined coconut oil; cook over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Spread chocolate mixture to 1/16-to ⅛-inch thickness on a small parchment paper-lined baking sheet; freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using parchment, crush chocolate into pieces of desired size; add to ice cream during final 2 minutes of churning.
LEMON WITH SPECULAAS COOKIE RIPPLE: Skip vanilla bean in the ice cream base, and add 3 tablespoons (13 grams) packed lemon zest instead. Heat as directed; cover and let stand for 15 minutes or until desired flavor is reached. Strain cream mixture; make and cool ice cream base as directed. When base is fully chilled, add up to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) fresh lemon juice for a tarter ice cream, if desired. This lemon ice cream is great paired with 1 cup (80 grams) crushed speculaas cookies, added during final 2 minutes of churning.
RUM RAISIN: In a small jar or airtight container, combine ⅔ cup (110 grams) assorted raisins and ½ cup (120 grams) dark rum. Let stand at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, shaking container halfway through so raisins are evenly soaked. Drain thoroughly, reserving rum. Once base is completely chilled, add up to 3 tablespoons (45 grams) rum to taste. (Alcohol lowers the freezing point of a liquid, so adding more than the recommended amount can impact how your ice cream sets up). Churn as directed, adding drained raisins during final 2 minutes of churning.