A Simple Pleasure – Vanilla Bean Ice-cream

Some of you may recall the trouble I encountered with my KitchenAid ice-cream maker when attempting to make raspberry sorbet for the baked Alaska. I am pleased to say that I eventually managed to get the right parts for free and everything is now functioning perfectly. Happy days!

The first time I attempted making ice-cream in it was to make David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel. Let’s just say it didn’t go quite to plan. Firstly, when I was cooking the custard, I didn’t read the instructions properly, so instead of heating it to 160-170 F, I tried to heat it to 160-170 C! I realised my mistake early on, but it had gone way past 71-77 C, which I think affected the way it froze (or didn’t). Then I burnt the caramel and, on re-making it, I didn’t measure the salt properly, which resulted in a semi-frozen way too salty caramel ice-cream. It wasn’t pretty.

So, for my next attempt, I decided to go back to basics and make a simple vanilla bean ice-cream. D and I recently went to Tahiti and Bora Bora where I managed to pick up some beautiful vanilla beans, so I figured I should put them to good use in a recipe that would make them the hero. I like to think of it as killing two birds with one stone!

The end result was a fantastically smooth and creamy ice-cream, perfect for any reason really. If only I had a freezer big enough to store it, I would always, always keep some on hand.

Recipe (as per David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)


  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup (250ml) cream and salt in a saucepan and turn the heat off. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk and then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for 30 minutes.

2.Pour the remaining 1 cup (250ml) cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Just before the infusing time is up, prepare an ice bath by filling a larger bowl (larger than the one with just the cream in it) partially with ice and water as you’ll need it for step 5. You might like to test that the two bowls work together and that you haven’t filled the bottom bowl up too much – the last thing you want is the ice water overflowing into the top bowl and ruining your hard work.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Check the temperature of the milk – if it has gone cold, re-warm it a little. I found it to still be quite warm and used it straight from the pot. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour – the whisking is important here – if you don’t do it, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture constantly over a low-medium heat to cook it, scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula – you’ll know it’s cooked if you can run your finger through the custard on the back of the spatula and it draws a line.

5. Strain the custard into the bowl with the cream. Stir over the ice bath for 5-10 minutes until cool, add the vanilla extract and then refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight. I always put clingwrap on top of the surface of the custard (not just covering the bowl) so that it doesn’t form a skin.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I gave it 25-30 mins and the result was pretty near perfect, even if I do say so myself! You’ll get a perfectly smooth and soft ice-cream, which can be eaten (or taste tested) straight away, but for the best results, put it into the freezer for a few hours.

I think I’m ready to give the salted butter caramel ice-cream another go.


One thought on “A Simple Pleasure – Vanilla Bean Ice-cream

  1. Pingback: Choc Cherry Ice cream « Mmmm, Sugar

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