For years I have tried to make ice cream! Now really, how hard can it be? Hard! Either it’s too icy, too fatty or just not flavorful. However on a recent trip to Charleston South Carolina, I asked a pastry chef what was her secret? She said it’s in the milks and then in the bloom time-what is that? Walk me through the process, please. Would you believe it, she did! I learned that the French style (egg yolk based) is the best for ice cream. Half of the problem is the texture; and, that rich, creamy custard base is exactly what achieves the silky feel.
What to choose for the flavor; well, that is a tough pick. I’m a purist I prefer simple ingredients: vanilla beans that are plump and have possibly been sitting in a mason jar filled with Basil Hayden’s Bourbon for say maybe six months. Or, fruit picked at the peak of freshness and flavor. Peaches have just come into season here and they are amazing this year I see pints of peach ice cream in my future.
Now for the ice cream maker, long ago and far away, an old, banged up and battered, well-loved White Mountain hand crank ice cream maker was a staple during summer time. My backside would have frost bite from sitting on top of that machine for what seemed like hours. I’m going to pull a Sophia from Golden Girls moment on you. Picture it Ojai, California summer 1978 I’m three years old and it’s about 100° outside in the shade. My grandfather has just picked up ice and rock salt; my grandmother has just made the ice cream base. Outside on the patio, the ice cream making station was created. The frozen silver canister with its paddle was placed inside the wooden barrel ice cream maker, the ice cream base was added to that canister then the lid was attached and the sides were packed with ice and rock salt. A few folded burlap sacks sat on top of it keep it insulated. My Poppa would then grab a grandchild of his choice_ usually it was me_ and plop me on top of those burlap sack. Why you ask? Because my backside was small enough to sit on top of those burlap sacks on top of the ice cream maker holding the ice and salt in place. Poppa churned the ice cream until it was thick and frozen to perfection. When he was finished he, would throw me in the pool so my backside would warm up. Good times!
It was worth it! His vanilla ice cream tasted like nothing I have ever had. Unto this day I have still been trying to get it just right. So with the tricks of the different milks and the tip of bloom time (see recipe) I was given in Charleston by that pastry chef I came home and bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker and got to work. I came up with a recipe that used three different milk types: whole, half-and-half and whipping cream. It’s that balance it creates folds cream not milk crystals.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and please let me know how it works for you. I just visited the White Mountain ice cream maker website_ I’m thinking of getting one, I have twins their backsides are small just perfect for sitting on top of the ice cream maker! I could make a lot of ice cream this summer.
Real French Vanilla Ice Cream
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup half and half
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 whole vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
Optional: 1 cup chopped fresh fruit, ½ cup chocolate chips, 2 tablespoon fresh herbs, ½ cup jam or jelly, ½ teaspoon flavoring of your choice.
Combine all three milks, sugar, and the pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Split and scrape the vanilla bean place it in the pot too. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is warmed through, do not boil just tiny little bubbles should form around the pans edge. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth and pale in color. Slowly pour 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly this will temper the egg yolks so you won’t have scrambled eggs. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 170 F). Pour the ice cream base through the mesh strainer into the bowl; place vanilla pod back into the strained base, let the custard cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled (24 hours). Remove the vanilla bean before churning, add optional ingredients if wanted then follow the manufacturing directions of your ice cream maker and enjoy.