How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream at Home
It’s not as scary as you think — and we’ll show you why
With the seemingly infinite number of ice cream flavors and toppings, we can understand why everyone is constantly screaming over it. And while a trip to your hometown ice cream parlor on a warm summer night is always enjoyable, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a scoop of your own, homemade ice cream at home.
To get that perfect scoop, you need to put the sprinkles aside and start at the beginning with a simple vanilla ice cream base, and we’re going to show you how. From start to finish, the process to make rich, velvety ice cream at home is fairly simple. Even better — we've made a few alterations to traditional ice cream recipes so that now it's even easier than you think.
Any ice cream recipe starts with a base, which is essentially milk and sugar, and sometimes eggs, that is cooked until thickened, cooled, and then frozen. If you've ever made a homemade custard or pudding, you're already halfway there. In traditional French recipes, egg yolks are added because they offer a thicker and more full-bodied texture to the ice cream, but it's easy to overcook the eggs. There is also Philadelphia-style or American-style ice cream, which is simply milk, sugar, and flavorings. This method is extremely simple, but doesn't give the ice cream a silky smooth texture. To get the perfect balance, we opted to replace the eggs with cornstarch. It's the closest and most reliable method to achieve the egg-like creamy texture, without the fear of scrambled eggs.
Once you've got the base down, that’s when the pinnacle of the ice cream process begins: the churning and freezing. The most common method to do this is to use a home ice cream machine. This is the easiest method because it does all of the work for you, but it does require a little investment. Another option, although it takes some serious elbow grease, is to pour the base into a chilled bowl and to alternate between freezing and whisking vigorously every 30 minutes until frozen. Whatever your preferred method, the constant stirring is important while churning in order to prevent ice crystals from forming — because after all of that work perfecting the base, nobody wants to end up with icy ice cream.
Once you have the basic steps down, ice cream's possibilities and flavor combinations are endless. Add in some coffee extract or caramel sauce, or stir in some fresh fruit or cookie crumbs. We think, however, the taste of homemade ice cream is so good, even plain-old vanilla is far from boring.
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