I’ve tried a host of vanilla ice cream recipes, but love this one—based on Johnny Iuzzini’s in Dessert Fourplay—best for making the vanilla ice cream that I have in our freezer at all times. It’s the first ice cream my son, T ever tasted. His little eyes lit up and he grinned in excitement when he registered its flavour, texture and temperature all at once for the very first time. That moment was truly priceless.
This vanilla ice cream remains scoop-able (thanks to the addition of invert sugar) without rapidly turning into a puddle and has the luscious, velvety mouthfeel that I adore in crème anglaise-based ice creams. Taking the time to let the vanilla infuse overnight (my tweak) and giving the finished ice-cream base yet another night in the fridge to let the flavours come together (Iuzzini’s generous sharing of a detail most pastry chefs practice) really makes for an ice cream that packs a powerful vanilla punch. The rather drawn out method also happens to work well with my current schedule as it means that I only need to spend a couple of minutes working on the ice cream each day as and when I can steal a little time to do so.
This is unquestionably my vanilla ice cream of choice when I’m serving ice cream sodas or floats, affogatos, ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, tarts or cakes; occasions when I want vanilla to be an equal, a flavour at the forefront rather than the backdrop of a dish. Because of that, I also prefer not to add mix-ins to it. In my book, this is the cashmere of vanilla ice creams. You have to try it!
Makes about 1 litre
360g (1½ cups) whole milk
360g (1½ cups) whipping cream
34g (2 tbsp) light corn syrup
2 vanilla beans
8 large egg yolks
20g (4tsp) invert sugar*
150g (¾ cup) castor sugar
a pinch of vanilla salt
*Invert sugar (makes about 400ml)
450g castor sugar
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make invert sugar, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat then simmer for 30 minutes. There should be no hint of acidity in the mixture by this point. Set aside to cool completely before using. Store in the fridge.
To make ice-cream, combine the milk, whipping cream and corn syrup in a saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the milk and cream mixture, add the vanilla pods then bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered, to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Bring the infused milk and cream mixture to a simmer once again. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, invert sugar, castor sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl until pale yellow. When the milk and cream mixture is simmering, remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk about 1 cup of it into the egg yolks to temper them (about 1 min). Scrape it back into the remaining milk and cream mixture in the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 80° Celsius (175° Fahrenheit). You’ll know it’s close to done when the colour of the foam on the surface turns the same colour as the mixture, and the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. But it’s best to use a thermometer.
Strain into a medium bowl set in an ice bath (I personally like using a tall metal container set in an ice bath). Return the vanilla pods to the ice cream base. Stir the base frequently and allow it to cool completely. Cover with cling wrap placed directly on the surface of the ice-cream base and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to churn the ice-cream base, remove the vanilla pods. Mix thoroughly with an immersion or stick blender then churn following the instructions accompanying your ice cream maker. Transfer into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.