Vanilla Ice Cream Scoop

What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than making some homemade ice cream? I can still remember the sound of my parent’s wooden ice cream maker churning away on the porch for what seemed like hours. As a kid, I never understood how the thing worked or why the heck you’d need salt to make such a sweet treat. It was magical to me. After recently unearthing some unused gift cards from Christmas’ past, I acquired an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer. It’s my new favorite thing.

Ice Cream Ingredients
I was seriously bummed to recently learn that Breyer’s Natural Vanilla Ice Cream, a long time staple in my freezer, is not “all natural” as it’s packaging claims. Aside from using dairy products from cows treated with Bovine Growth Hormone (called rBGH or rBST), a new ingredient has been added in the past few years: tara gum. It is no longer the ice cream I grew up eating. Generally speaking, if I don’t know what an ingredient it is, I try to avoid it. It turns out that tara gum actually is all natural in the strictest sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean it should be in my ice cream any more than any other ground Peruvian shrub should. I would prefer my ice cream to taste creamy by using, um…cream.

Ice Cream Churning

Lola Patiently Waits for Ice Cream

Lola patiently waits for the ice cream to freeze.

Which leads me to David Lebovitz’ recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s so rich and creamy with such a wonderful vanilla flavor, it makes me question how vanilla ever got the reputation for being plain or boring. You may be tempted to douse it with chocolate sauce or some other topping, but it’s so good on it’s own, I highly recommend having at least one serving sans accoutrements. Real vanilla beans are the key here. So don’t skimp and just use extract and expect the same results. You want to see the little black specks in all the creamy goodness.

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

About 1 quart (1l)


1 cup (250ml) whole milk, preferably organic

A pinch of salt

3/4 cup (150g) sugar, preferably organic

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 cups (500ml) heavy cream, preferably organic

5 large egg yolks, preferably organic and locally farmed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour (I may have rushed this part a little..shhh).

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. (Do not walk away! Seriously, stir constantly or you will end up with an overcooked goop).

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight. (I cheated and only let it chill for a couple of hours. No one noticed. Note: be sure to rescue the vanilla bean pods from the strainer and return it to the custard mix.)

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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