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French Vanilla Ice Cream

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Ice cream comes in many flavors, but it typically starts with a vanilla custard base that includes egg yolks, heavy cream, milk and sugar, according to Ralph Kopelman, owner of Cranford Vanilla Bean Creamery in Cranford, New Jersey. Different iterations, from mint chip to caramel to dulce de leche, take off from there. Kopelman says it’s always important to source quality ingredients.

If you're not confident in keeping a close eye on temperature-sensitive ingredients, Kopelman says a double boiler is essential for making ice cream. No double boiler on hand? Go the DIY route: Take a pot, fill it with a few inches of water, and heat the water to boiling. Reduce the heat so that the water is barely simmering. Place a metal bowl on top of the pot of water to make your instant double boiler.

Vanilla ice cream

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Yields: about 1½ quarts

  • 8 oz granulated sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (16 oz) milk
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups (16 oz) heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Fill large bowl with ice water; place slightly smaller bowl over ice water and set aside. Heat water for double boiler to a simmer.

In top of double boiler, add sugar, egg yolks, milk and salt; stir with whisk until smooth. Place sugar mixture over simmering water and heat slowly but do not boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Boiling will scramble egg yolks. Cook just until mixture coats spoon. If you draw your finger through custard on back of spoon, it should cut a distinct path and liquid will not fill inside the line.

Pour custard into bowl set over ice water. Add heavy cream and stir until well blended. Place plastic wrap directly onto custard surface to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Stir vanilla into custard. Freeze in ice-cream maker as manufacturer directs. If ice cream is too soft to serve immediately, transfer to bowl or airtight plastic container; cover and freeze at least 30 minutes or until firm. Cover and freeze up to 3 days.


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