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    I agree with Gale that homemade ice cream is indeed an inexpensive, but oh-so-worth-it luxury, and since I got my first ice cream maker nearly 5 years ago, I must say that nothing quite compares to the real thing.

    Now that I have a dinky new Italian machine, I’ve been trying to find recipes to please the most fervent fan of ice cream in my household – my four-year-old daughter who insists that I only make vanilla. I have tried in vain to make other things, but this is mostly greeted with grumbling and a mommy promise to make vanilla tomorrow.

    But with this recipe below, I have high hopes that it may finally de-vanilla-ize my little one. Oh, and take Gale’s useful vanilla pod advice below – once you use those heady black beans, you wont ever buy those awful bottles again.

    Cookie Dough:
    8 ounces (2 sticks) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup chocolate chips

    Ice Cream Base:
    2 cups half-and-half
    2 cups heavy cream
    1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    9 egg yolks
    3/4 cup sugar

    Make the Cookie Dough: Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held beater) until soft and fluffy. Add both sugars and mix. Add the vanilla and 1 egg and mix. Add the remaining egg and mix. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix. Add the chips and mix just until just combined.

    Using your hands, roll the dough into a long thin rope; then cut into small bits. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Make the Ice Cream Base: In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the half-and-half, cream, and vanilla, whisking occasionally, to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer (do not let it boil), turn off the heat and let the flavors infuse for 10 minutes. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. In a thin stream, whisk half of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan containing the rest of the cream mixture.

    Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. At 160 degrees F., the mixture will give off a puff of steam. When the mixture reaches 180 degrees F, it will be thickened and creamy, like eggnog. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test it by dipping a wooden spoon into the mixture. Run your finger down the back of the spoon. If the stripe remains clear, the mixture is ready; if the edges blur, the mixture is not quite thick enough.) When it is ready, quickly remove it from the heat.

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