Friday, November 19, 2010

Glace à la Vanille - Vanilla Ice Cream

A recipe for vanilla ice cream? In mid-November? Yes, I know it seems a little bit off-season, (well, let me see, how off-season are the strawberries and raspberries I just saw at the supermarket the other day? Yeah, right. You see my point!) There is no season for ice cream in the US anyway ; there is only an annual peak in Summer months, that's all.  Numbers speak for themselves : on average, Americans (and 90% of American households eat ice cream!!) eat 21.5 quarts of ice cream per person per year. That's a little more than 20 liters (for my metric system-readers) per person per year (as opposed to less than 7 liters or 7.4 quarts in Europe!!) That's a lot of ice cream on the American market, so it'd better be spread over 365 days! But if so much ice cream gets eaten annually in the US, why don't Americans make more of their own?

My take on this is that ice cream is not considered a true dessert on its own in the US. It's an add-on to a dessert (the irritating ubiquitous "à la mode" option (which does not make any sense in French if you ever wondered)), a small treat, or worse, a snack after dinner! As a direct consequence, making your own ice cream is not given the same credit than baking another dessert from scratch! Nobody expects you to make your own (I can't remember eating homemade ice cream since I moved to the US) and if you do and serve it along a pie, chances are that people are not going to notice it. So why bother, really?  Well,  I think that it should change and that homemade ice cream for dessert should be re-instituted.
Yes, making ice cream (or sorbet) requires planning because you have to make it a few days before. It's also best if you have an ice cream maker... but at the end, it DOES taste better (not to mention the lack of additives/artificial ingredients) than any other commercial ice creams available around. And it costs much less than the Premium brands, even if you make it with organic ingredients. So why not try to make your own? Thanksgiving being around the corner, it would be the perfect dessert to serve instead of sugar-loaded pies! Put vanilla ice cream at the center of desserts.  Simple. Easy. Elegant... and made in advance! What else do you want? Bon Appetit!
Recipe by David Lebovitz
- 500 ml (16.9 Fl oz) Whole Milk
- 150gr  (5.29 oz) sugar
-  pinch of salt
-  250 ml (8.45 Fl oz) heavy cream
-  5 egg yolks
 - 15 ml (1 Tb) Pure vanilla extract
-  1 vanilla bean, cut open and scrapped

  • In a pot, heat the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean to a boil. Reserve and let infuse for one hour.
  • Prepare an ice bowl and pour the heavy cream in it. The bowl has to be able to accomodate the milk as well so use a large one.
  • Re-heat the milk. Pour it over the egg yolks and put the pot back on the stove . Over low heat, stirr constantly until the liquid thickens enough to coat your spatula.
  • Pour the custard over the cream and mix well. Add the vanilla extract and stirr.
  • Place in the fridge over night to cool
  • The next day, remove the vanilla bean and make the ice cream in your ice cream maker.
My Personal Comments:
  • Chilling the custard is key. 
  • You could make it 'lighter" by using half-and-half instead of the cream but the final texture will not be a rich. 


  1. Love to make ice-cream but I suck at the custard bases like this one. I always end up over cooking the custard:-(

  2. Thanks for a great feast for my eyes. Now I am ready to cook! Happy Thanksgiving!