If there’s ever a good reason to celebrate, it might as well be this: July is National Ice Cream Month. President Reagan first designated the national event in 1984, declaring that it, as well as National Ice Cream Day on the third Sunday of July, should be celebrated with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” So with that, I ceremoniously submit to you a recipe for classic vanilla bean ice cream.
If you have only one ice cream recipe in your repertoire, it should be vanilla bean. It’s the perfect dessert for nearly any occasion, from birthday parties to barbecues to traditional dinner parties. Serve it on the side of cakes, pies, cobblers, and crisps; make ice cream sundaes or floats; or simply use it to dress up plain fruit.
Classic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
1 cup whole milk
2 cups whipping cream
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 1 TBSP vanilla bean paste
4-5 large egg yolks (save the whites for deep, dark chocolate cookies)
1 TBSP vanilla extract
Heat the milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
If using the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean and add to the pan along with the bean itself. Cover, remove from heat, and allow the vanilla to steep for 1 hour. Remove vanilla bean and discard. If using vanilla bean paste, skip this paragraph and go straight to the next step.
Place the remaining cup of milk in a large bowl and set a fine mesh strainer on top. If you’ve steeped the vanilla bean and the milk has cooled, reheat the mixture. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of the warm vanilla milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the eggs. When the eggs are warmed, pour them back into the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir into the chocolate mixture. Stir in vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste, if using.
Cover with plastic wrap, placing wrap directly onto the mixture’s surface to prevent a film from forming. Cool thoroughly in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When completely chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.