Thursday, June 28, 2012

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Even though school doesn’t officially end until the end of June, for us students, summer starts the second we finish our last exam. Last year I’d had a measly five exams, which ended the first week of exams. This year, I had six exams—seven if you count the English exam I’d already written in May—spaced out in the span of two weeks.

By the time I completed my second last exam, I was pretty worn out. My last exam—biology—was the next day, and I’d only covered half the text-book, but my heart wasn’t it in. After two weeks of committing myself to the desk, studying, I felt restless. My fingers itched to play with Jenny’s ice cream machine, which I’d borrowed from her.

After staring aimlessly at my textbook for twenty minutes, I decided that I’d be able to study more efficiently if I made some ice cream first. My brother Kyle and I went to work, separating the eggs, cooking the custard, and preparing the ice bath. An hour later, we had luscious soft serve French Vanilla Ice Cream, a beautful ice cream yellow from the egg yolks and flecked with flavourful vanilla bean seeds. This ice cream is so rich and creamy that it tastes pretty much like creme brulee, but frozen. 

I have to say that it actually was easier to study knowing that I had homemade ice cream waiting for me in the freezer, should I succumb to another ice cream craving. 


French Vanilla Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 quart (1l)
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream


Heat the milk, salt, and vanilla extract in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Let the milk come to a simmer.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks and sugar. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight. (If you are impatient like I am, then just skip the overnight chill. Keep in mind that your ice cream will be softer.) Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop the ice cream in a plastic container with a lid and store in the frezer. 

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.


  1. Ooh! Yum. I bet I could study a little bit easier with a batch of this in the freezer!

  2. Making dessert definitely adds to productivity - I can vouch for that ;-)
    Your ice cream looks gorgeous. I have placed my ice-cream machine canisters in my freezer permanently because I never know when the urge to make a batch might hit me. Who cares if it's now too cold for ice cream?


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