Investing in a personal ice cream machine may seem like a frivolous expense, but when you compare the cost and quality of making your own against what’s available from the store, it’s worth another thought. That is, if you’re serious about good ice cream.
I’m guessing that most people who attempt to make the homemade variety give up after the first try, primarily because they are relying on a sub-standard piece of equipment to freeze and churn a well-prepared custard base into the smooth and dreamy stuff they yearn for. These low range machines, with removable metals cores that need to be frozen in advance for the process to “work” are a waste of time and money. I have never seen one work, and more often than not, the thought of ever making homemade ice cream again is thrown out along with the machine.
It’s a shame because with a proper piece of equipment the start to finish procedure of making ice cream is one of the simplest and most rewarding of all culinary feats. While it has a shorter shelf life than what you can buy in a plastic tub, it also quite certainly does not have the verbose list of indistinguishable additives and fillers that come along with it. If you have never checked the ingredient label of your favorite ice cream, you may be in for a shock. You are paying for (and ingesting) a lot more than just milk, sugar and eggs.
Granted, there are some so-called premium pints of ice cream that keep artificial ingredients to a minimum. I have never been fully satisfied with these options either, principally because I have tasted my own version, but also because the portion size is so meager. If you consider how many pints (which decisively serves two at max) you buy over the course of a year, it is arguably well worth the upfront small fortune of a decent ice cream machine. I promise that you will reap the benefits over time in both money and flavor. Now, while you are mulling over that purchase, take a look at how easy this recipe is and be on the lookout for more flavors to come.
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 ½ C heavy cream
1 ½ C whole milk
½ C sweetened condensed milk
½ C sugar
6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean (preferably from Madagascar) split lengthwise
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Have a smaller bowl and fine mesh sieve close by.
Heat the cream and whole milk together in a pot with the vanilla bean over a medium setting. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it into the yolks. Turn the burner to a low setting, pour the cream and egg mixture back into the pot and cook it over very low heat, stirring constantly with a high heat rubber spatula. After about five minutes, the liquid should start to thicken slightly so that it thinly coats the side of your spatula. You do not want to boil or overly cook the eggs here, so be prompt in removing your pot from the heat, Pour the ice cream base through the fine mesh sieve into the smaller bowl, and place it over the ice bath to cool. Stir it occasionally until it has chilled throughout. Pour this into your ice cream maker and operate the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve the ice cream immediately from the machine, or store in your freezer for up to one week. Note: Because there are no additives in this recipe, the ice cream will be noticeably harder the next day when you remove it from the freezer, so allow additional time for it to soften slightly before serving.