I owe you a thousand apologies. For a large chunk of time, I thought that I had this – my very favorite recipe for homemade vanilla bean ice cream, which I make countless times per year – here on the website. I recently received an email from a reader looking for my vanilla ice cream recipe with a custard base (not the Philadelphia-style version I made a long time ago), and when I went to find a link I was appalled at myself for never having shared this recipe. It’s a staple in my freezer for most of the year and it’s been the building block of many of my favorite ice cream-based recipes, such as Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Sandwiches, Banana Split Ice Cream Cake, Homemade Klondike Bars and Fried Ice Cream. So, basically… you need this recipe in your life, and I’m terribly sorry for not sharing it with you sooner!
Philadelphia-style ice creams are made by churning together a mixture of milk, cream, sugar and flavorings; by contrast, custard-based ice creams (such as this one), are created by using egg yolks along with the milk, cream, sugar and flavorings (here, vanilla beans) for the base. This results in a much richer and creamier ice cream. While the former is quicker and easier to make (and a little lighter), there’s no doubt in my mind that custard-based ice creams are far superior in terms of taste and texture.
While I’ve used this vanilla ice cream recipe as a jumping point for many of the recipes mentioned above, it’s absolutely perfect for those spur of the moment, “I need ice cream right now” type of days. I’ve scooped it onto warm chocolate chip cookies and brownies, piled it on top of pies and cakes, and I’ve made impromptu sundaes that are absolutely phenomenal. You can’t beat this ice cream topped with homemade hot fudge, salted caramel sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry. Sprinkles make any day brighter, right?!
Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream and the salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture and add the bean to the mixture as well. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula, a few minutes. The mixture should register 170 to 175 degrees F on an instant-read digital thermometer.
Pour the custard through the fine-mesh sieve and stir it into the cream. Place the vanilla bean into the custard, stir in the vanilla extract, and place the bowl over an ice bath. Stir occasionally, until the mixture is cool. Cover and transfer the custard to the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean from the custard and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer.