Growing up, I was always the boring kid who only liked vanilla ice cream. I don’t think it was necessarily that I disliked the other flavors as much as it was that I just loved vanilla, and I didn’t see any reason to eat any other kind. I had a friend who gave me such a hard time about it. She and I played softball together, and often after practices or games we would go to get ice cream. She would order really fun flavors and I would ALWAYS order vanilla. Vanilla is so simple and perfect. It’s smooth and creamy, without swirls of goo or hard chunks of candy or nuts. I love it. She did get me to order peppermint once and I did enjoy that, but ordering something different was always short lived and I would find myself reverting back to vanilla time and time again. There’s really no beating it.
I’ve tried many different brands and love Edy’s, Haagen-Dazs and the other super smooth and thick varieties. I’ve never really been a big fan of home-made ice cream either. Something about the process seemed so… not worth it. If you are able to go to the store and pick up a tub of insanely delicious and smooth wonderfulness for $5.00, then why go through all the effort and end up with a vanilla flavored ice cup, which is more of a slushy consistency than you’d like? It just didn’t make sense to me. Of course, that was because I had never tried really good home-made ice cream.
That all changed when I met Brian’s family. Brian’s mom has made home-made ice cream on several occasions with great accomplishment. Recently though, Brian decided he wanted to learn how to make ice cream, and I was extremely skeptical that he would be able to pull it off. His mom is great at it though, and I thought maybe with a few tips from her he could, with time, generate something that would be semi-worth the effort. He read through some recipes and decided on Alton Brown’s Vanilla Ice Cream from the Good Eats 2 Cookbook. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention at all to how he did it. I don’t know if it’s hard to do or not, or what the steps look like as you do them, but I do know with certainty that the ice cream he made is one of my favorite vanilla ice creams on the planet. My view of home-made ice cream has changed forever.
In order to make ice cream you need an ice cream maker, which we don’t have. We do, however, have a KitchenAid Mixer and Brian’s mom let us borrow the ice cream maker attachment. I don’t know if the brand of ice cream maker affects the outcome, but whatever the KitchenAid ice cream attachment did was perfect.
Hurley really wanted some. He watched Brian the entire time he ate.
Here is the recipe from the Good Eats 2 Cookbook. The result is a mouthful of joy.
Vanilla Ice Cream- makes 1 1/2 quarts (enough for 8 people to eat it with pie and still have some left over)
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
9 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Combine the half and half and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. Whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color. Gradually whisk the sugar into the yolks until smooth.
3. Slowly ladle one thrid or the hot dairy into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. (This is the tempering part.) Return this mixture to the pot containing the rest of the dairy. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the custard thickens slightly, enough to coat the back of a spoon (170- 175 degrees F).
4. Wash the original mixing bowl. When the custard is ready, transfer it to the bowl, stir in the vanilla, and cool at room temp for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until the temperature drops below 40 degrees F. Best to let it chill overnight.
5. Pour into a prepped ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Within 25 to 30 minutes the ice cream will attain a classic soft-serve consistency. Enjoy it as is or move it to the freezer to harden for another 3-4 hours.