Today was the first day that really felt like summer to me. It was gloriously hot and humid (yes, I admit to enjoying this kind of heat–especially early in the season), and we had a lovely, cooling thunderstorm in the afternoon. It brought just enough rain to make the gardens happy, and to leave us, heading into the evening, with the sun peeking out again, and that warm, humid, earthy smell that I love so much rising up from the damp ground. Yes, it is indeed summer! And when it is, I can’t help but think about ice cream. Not that I don’t love ice cream all year round….(are you kidding? I can’t seem to make it beyond two days without some!) It’s just that I especially enjoy the stuff in the summer. So, the boys and I made some. In keeping with hot summer weather, I opted for ease, and decided to go for a simple, straightforward vanilla. While many vanilla ice cream recipes use eggs, this one doesn’t, so it relies entirely on the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla for its flavor and richness. Because of this, the quality of the milk and cream you use will really be apparent in the final product. Perhaps it goes without saying, but the better the milk and cream you use, the better your ice cream will be–so go for the best and freshest stuff you can find. Enjoy!
Summertime Vanilla Ice Cream
1 large vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2cups heavy cream
1.) Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a sauce pan. Put the scraped bean into the pan as well.
2.) Pour the milk into the sauce pan. Heat the milk and vanilla on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Bring it to a simmer (or, about 180 degrees, if you are using a candy thermometer), and then immediately remove it from the heat. Do NOT let the milk boil.
3.) As soon as you remove the milk from the heat, add the sugar and mix well to dissolve.
4.) Allow the milk to cool to room temperature, then pour it through a mesh strainer to strain out the vanilla bean pods, and discard the pods. Then, add the heavy cream to the milk mixture, and mix well.
5.) Place the mixture in the refrigerator and allow to chill thoroughly. If you want to speed up the cooling process a bit, and are willing to watch it carefully, you can place the mixture in the freezer, but do NOT allow the mixture to freeze.
6.) Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled (the colder the better), proceed with the ice cream making process per the instructions provided by the manufacterer of your ice cream maker. (I have an ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. I freeze the mixing bowl ahead of time, attach it to the mixer, turn it on at speed 1, pour the mixture in while it’s running, and mix it on speed 1 for 15–20 minutes.)
7.) Once your ice cream is done being mixed, promptly transfer the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least three or four hours. Keep in mind that when the ice cream is done being mixed, the consistency will be fairly loose–kind of like soft-serve ice cream. The subsequent time in the freezer is what will harden the ice cream to normal ice cream consistency. If you keep the ice cream in the freezer for a long time and it becomes harder than you’d like, simply take it out ten minutes or so before serving to soften it up.