gosh i love a good vanilla bean. especially when combined with cream, sugar and eggs – what could be more heavenly? i have toyed around with a few different vanilla recipes, and i think i can finally settle with this one for a while. running your spoon through the creamy landscape, latching onto beans as you go – it seriously feels like a soft cloud at your fingertips. the vanilla i’ve used can be purchased from Vanilla Plantations and is A-Grade Ground Bourbon Vanilla Powder – so basically its the whole vanilla pod ground up with the beans and all. now, this makes your ice cream look speckled and slightly grey-tinged, but the taste is the same, if not better – you get a certain smokiness from the vanilla that i haven’t been able to attain through using the paste. and, this stuff works out to be a LOT cheaper considering a few teaspoons of the paste can cost you over $10! i love this stuff – it makes its way into my morning oats, into smoothies, desserts…it has rustic visual appeal. the original recipe calls for caster sugar, but try it with the raw stuff – you’ll get a more earthy flavour. my latest batch, i made with brown sugar and oh my! it imparts a subtle caramel flavour that really is something else. it is the perfect marriage with a rich brownie or even a lemon pudding.
smokey vanilla + brown sugar ice cream (adapted from Ice Cream – The Perfect Weekend Treat)
600ml whipping cream (or half single cream and half double cream – from experience, the former tastes better)
1 vanilla pod (or equivalent in powder/paste)
4 egg yolks
100g brown sugar (or raw caster sugar)
here’s what you do…
1. pour the cream into a large heavy-based saucepan with the vanilla. if you’re using the whole pod, scrape the beans into the pan and place the pod in there also. bring almost to the boil, then remove from heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
2. put the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, whisking together until mixture is pale and eggs leave a trail when whisk is lifted. remove the pod if using, then slowly add the cream to the egg mix, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.
3. strain the mix back into the saucepan, and cook over low heat for 10 or so minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. take care, as the mixture could curdle if left to boil.
4. remove custard from heat and immediately pour into ice-cream maker (my machine is one that doesn’t require the mixture to be cooled down beforehand – you may need to check yours is the same). churn, churn, churn (according to the manufacturer, of course). alternatively, freeze the mix, uncovered, for 1-2 hrs, or until an edge begins to form. turn the custard into a bowl and stir with a fork or beat until smooth, returning to the freezer for another 2-3 hours until firm.
5. enjoy many times over.