We’ve tried a lot of vanilla ice cream recipes and certainly none of them have ever been rejected, but once we’d tasted this recipe, we realized we’d never need another. This recipe comes from The New Best Recipe book from the people from Cook’s Illustrated, and it’s a custard-style ice cream, which means it’s made with lots of egg yolks. So if you’re in the country and have access to fresh, free-range eggs (and there is a difference, believe me) and raw milk, this recipe is the way to go. We use a hand-crank ice cream freezer because we like for everyone to earn their ice cream, but the same outcome can be had with an electric ice-cream freezer.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half and scraped out, or 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
Fill a sink or large bowl with ice-water and have a strainer ready over another large bowl that will fit inside the sink or large bowl. Heat the milk, cream, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the vanilla seeds and pod (if you’re not using a vanilla bean, wait until later to add the extract) in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to bread up the vanilla seeds, until steam appears and the milk is warm, about 175 degrees, which takes around five minutes. Do not boil the milk.
Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl until combined and pale yellow. Whisk half the warm milk mixture into the beaten yolks, 1/2 cup at a time, until combined. Whisk the milk-yolk mixture into the warm milk in the saucepan over medium heat amd cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until steam appears, foam subsides and the mixture is slightly thickened or measure 180-180 degrees. Do not boil or eggs will curdle. Immediate strain the mixture into the bowl you have ready and set it in the ice-water bath. Cool and stir until it comes to room temperature. Cover, refrigerate, and chill until it gets down to 40 degrees, 3-24 hours.
Remove and discard vanilla pod. If you’re not using a vanilla bean, add the vanilla extract now and stir well. Pour the custard into the ice-cream freezer and churn following the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid, at least a few hours, depending on the freezer. We usually wait until the next day to serve it. It will keep up to two days.