The Quintessential Summertime Treat!

This week we’ve gotta talk ice cream. It’s officially summer now. Yes, solstice, sure. But as a kid it always felt like summer started once the 4th of July came. Then it became (officially) ice cream season—at least for those of us who are (and always have been) food-focused.

At this time, I happen to be about 7 months pregnant with my second child. And let me tell you, nothing tastes as good as ice cream to this pregnant lady. My problem is. . . I’m someone who usually tries to eat healthily. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I eat a lot of veggies. I eat organic whenever possible. I don’t even eat that much dairy. You’d think this effort would be stronger when pregnant. You know, you wanna feed that little growing dude good stuff. And I do. But man. Ice cream sure tastes good. And it doesn’t help that it’s 90 degrees here in my corner of New England right now!

Ice cream is one of the most satisfying things to make yourself because home made tastes so infinitely better than anything you can get at the market. Even the basics—like vanilla (recipe to follow). I’ll never forget the first time I made my own ice cream. Strawberry. I think I exclaimed after EVERY bite “this is so freakin’ good.” Your own ice cream will blow anything by Ben and Jerry or Hagen Daaz away, I tell you. So, do yourself a favor and invest in an ice cream maker. Later in the week I’ll post about the different kinds that are out there.

In the meantime, here’s some silly fun—you can go HERE to find out “what kind of ice cream” you are. Apparently, I’m rocky road. The funny thing is, I don’t think I have ever eaten it. And what’s that say about me, anyway? I have to ponder that one. . . .Onto the creamy goodness for today:

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAMbulkpeppercorns.jpg
Far from boring. . . especially if you add some berries or chocolate sauce. . . or both. . .

Don’t try using vanilla extract. Spring for the beans. It’s just the right thing to do.

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half and half (or as my husband would call it, “whole.” He’s all, “Don’t 2 halves make a whole?”)
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

1. Pour the both creams into a heavy saucepan. Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the tip of the knife or small spoon to scrape the seeds out of the bean, then add the seeds and bean halves to the creams. Bring to just to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 25-30 minutes. This is how the vanilla flavor becomes infused into your scream.

2. Over medium-high heat, bring creams a simmer again. While it heats, grab a metal bowl and whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until well blended. SLOWLY and gradually pour the hot cream mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture, and whisk like crazy.

If you perform this part too quickly or put too much cream in at one time, the eggs will get cooked from the heat of the cream. And nobody wants scrambled egg ice cream.

3. Pour the new mixture into your saucepan and warm over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. It will leave a path when your finger is drawn through it. This should take about 5 minutes. Whatever you do—don’t let the custard come to a to boil. Patience, young Skywalker.

4. Pour your custard through a sieve set over a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that it’s touching the custard—this will prevent a skin from forming. Poke a few small holes for the steam to escape, then refrigerate your yummy goodness until thoroughly cold or overnight.

5. Pour custard into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions—you want your ice cream to be set, but not firm—it’ll firm up in the freezer. Scoop the ice cream to a freezer-friendly container and freeze for at least 5 hours or up to 5 days for best flavor. Should make about 5 cups.

Let me know how it turns out! Williams-sonoma.com has some really helpful tips for those new to the ice cream-making scene.