Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vanilla Ice-cream

You've seen my sago plum puddings and the spiced rum custard, but for me ice-cream is an essential component of dessert on Christmas day, especially since it is summer for us southern hemisphere folks. I adore having a range of textures and temperatures, so having hot pudding and cold ice-cream together just seems right to me - while I can live without it (just!) if the custard is thick and served cold, wouldn't it be much easier for everyone if I made some lovely, creamy vanilla ice-cream to go with pudding?

This is a David Lebovitz recipe, from The Perfect Scoop, which is a fantastic book for anyone who makes their own ice-cream (or wants to). I know the scope seems a bit narrow but it is so much fun - peanut butter ice-cream, cheesecake ice-cream, rice gelato, even basil ice-cream (which I haven't been brave enough to try yet - well, really, when the other options exist would you really expect ol' sugar-obsessed me to go for basil???). Anyway, though I will also make a slightly more exciting flavour for our Christmas table (you'll have to wait and see what that will be!) classic vanilla is pretty unbeatable.

The recipe is a bog-standard ice-cream recipe - warm milk/cream/sugar, and separately beat the eggs, then temper them by slowly adding the warmed mixture. Once that's done, return the lot to the pot and stir over a low/medium heat until it thickens, add to the rest of the cream and chill. Easy peasy! 

It took about half an hour from start to finish (finish being custard in the fridge - it then needs an overnight in the fridge, about 40 minutes churning in an ice-cream maker and another few hours in the freezer before it's actually ready to eat, but I figure with nine days till Christmas still I can handle that) - so not too time-consuming. If you're using a vanilla bean (which is better, but I didn't have any and vanilla bean paste is almost as good) there is a steeping phase before you start, which will add half an hour to the total time but you don't have to do anything in that period. 

Thickening it up is the most sensitive part - but so long as you keep stirring, don't turn the heat up too high when you get bored, and stop when it "coats the back of the spoon" (cook code-language for "gets thick enough to not all run off straight away" - test by running a finger through the thickened mixture - if the edges you create hold and it doesn't run back together you're good) it'll be all good. 

Coated back-of-spoon
It's important to strain it into the bowl, as no matter how amazing you are at custard there will probably be a few wee gluggy bits from where the egg has cooked a little too fast. 

And then it's ready to chill, churn, freeze and eat. We haven't done the churning step yet - we only made the custard tonight - so no pictures, but ice-cream really all looks pretty much the same, so if you click the ice-cream tag over in the sidebar there and check out some of my other ice-cream recipes you'll get a pretty good idea. ;-)

What cooking are you doing in preparation for Christmas? 

Vanilla Ice-Cream (from David Lebovitz)
1 cup milk
150g/3/4 cup sugar 
2 cups cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream and salt in a saucepan. If using a vanilla pod scrape the seeds into the pan, add the bean and steep for 30 minutes, then remove the bean and re-warm. If using vanilla paste add to the saucepan and omit the steeping step.

In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly add the warmed milk to the yolks, whisking constantly. When combined, return the mixture to the saucepan and stir constantly over low to medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Put the remaining cream and vanilla extract into a large bowl and strain the custard into this. Stir to combine. When cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Churn in an ice-cream maker until thick then freeze to firm up. Makes about 1 litre.


  1. Mrs Cake's MotherDecember 16, 2010 at 11:25 PM

    so how are you bringing it to Christchurch?

  2. in a freezer bag???? :) i was also wondering that!

  3. I brought ice-cream down last Christmas too; I have a mini chilli bin - just big enough for three 1 litre containers of ice-cream, maybe one or two other small items and a couple of ice-packs. A couple of hours in my suitcase and it'll be fine. :-)

  4. I love homemade ice creams! They are always the most delicious. This is going to be delicious.


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