August 17, 2013

French Vanilla Ice Cream

In a small bowl, whisk vigorously to lighten the yolks (both in color and consistency):
4 egg yolks
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt

In a small pot, heat 'til steaming:
1 1/2 c. cream (half-n-half if you must*)
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. honey
1/2 vanilla bean, pod split

Pour about a third of the steaming hot cream/milk mixture in a steady stream over the sweetened yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the tempered yolks into the pot and heat to nappé. In other words, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Off heat, stir in:
1 t. vanilla extract (optional, in case you don't have a real vanilla bean)

Rapid chill and refrigerate overnight to ripen. The next day, strain through a sieve and churn. (Don't use a fine-meshed sieve; you want to catch the pod but not the seeds.) My Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker takes about 30" to bring the custard to soft-serve consistency. Containerize and freeze at least 3 hours before serving. This ice cream matures in the freezer and tastes best after 48 hours.

Makes a generous quart. To serve, garnish with Almond Brickle, recipe from the National Honey Board.

FOR A RICH CHOCOLATE VARIATION: add 3-4 oz dark chocolate, in small pieces, and 1/2 t. instant espresso to the milk/cream before heating. If you don't have an ice cream machine, this variation makes twelve Fantastic Fudge Bars.

FOR A PEACH VARIATION: toss together 2-3 ripe peaches (peeled and diced) with 1/4 c. sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Add to the churning custard at about the 25" mark.

TIPS: The used vanilla bean can be reused. Rinse lightly and let dry completely. My favorite re-use is to put it through the grinder with coffee beans. Makes that morning cup of Joe just a tad bit special.

You can use less sugar/more honey but be aware that all honey will produce an ice cream that doesn't freeze as hard, doesn't aerate quite as well, and is a little chewy.

*if you go the lower fat route, you might want to add a teaspoon or two of cornstarch. It'll help the lighter custard nappé before the yolks can curdle. Stir into the yolks before heating.


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