Thursday, April 17, 2008

Joyous Vanilla

My uncles love "white ice cream." Pass around a bottle of Brer Rabbit Syrup and they are the happiest men I've ever seen. Our family's favorite, as well as most of Little Rock's, when it came to ice cream was Yarnell's.

Sadly, I must admit that I have moved on. A friend and his family drove from Chicago to Louisiana. I told him that they had to stop in Arkansas and bring me back some Yarnell's. We did a taste test and my beloved Yarnell's lost to his Blue Bell. I was shocked. Then I looked on the back of the container and I felt like the little kids in the Breyer's commercials trying to pronounce the unnatural ingredients.

Okay. All of that was the setup for this vanilla ice cream. I've made vanilla ice cream before (and I still enjoy my Ben & Jerry's.) I knew that when I made the molten chocolate cakes, homemade vanilla ice cream was the proper accompaniment. I have just two ice cream books, William-Sonoma Ice Cream and Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book. Trust me. You won't need any other recipes. This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma. Here's the online recipe.

Start with the vanilla bean. Take a fresh bean and split it in half lengthwise. You know your pod is fresh if it is pliable. Older beans are dry and brittle. Try to buy beans in a jar, so that they are moist. Scrape the seeds out using the back of a paring knife.

Add the seeds and pod to a pot of dairy.

Heat on medium heat for five minutes, or until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Okay, so I had bubbles all over the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and remaining dairy in a bowl. Temper the yolks with the warm mixture.
Everybody back in the pool! Cook over low heat, stirring constantly. You'll know when the custard is thick enough because it will coat the back of a wooden spoon. When you draw your finger across the spoon, it will leave a trail that won't fill back in.

Now, set up a straining and rig: large bowl of ice. Smaller bowl nestled inside. (I like using an 8-cup measuring cup.) Place a strainer over the smaller bowl. Strain the custard.

Once it's strained, stir occasionally to cool (don't let a skin form.) When it's cool enough to refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Make sure the wrap is touching the top of the custard. Refrigerate overnight. Now you may entertain yourself by licking the spoon.

Time to break out the ice cream maker!!! I use a KitchenAid stand mixer and the Ice Cream Maker Attachment. This is a great combo if you are short on counter or storage space. I store the attachment in the freezer. That way it's ready when I need it. Turn the mixer on and pour in the custard.

After you've finished churning, you can eat it soft serve or freeze it. Here mine is dished up next to a molten chocolate cake.

Tools of the trade:

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