Every good cook needs a go-to dessert recipe. Homemade vanilla ice cream is a great choice during the summer.
Making ice cream from scratch isn’t difficult. Though it does require some attention to detail, the technique itself is rather simple: carefully cook the custard on the stove, allow it to cool, churn it in an ice cream maker, and then let it freeze fully. Once you have learned the basics, you can easily customize your ice cream with add-ins: caramel sauce and pretzel pieces, chocolate chips and crispy bacon… the possibilities are nearly endless.
We’ve put together some tips for each step in the ice-cream making process. Pair that with a great homemade vanilla ice cream recipe and you’ll be making dessert like a pro in no time!
Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream:
Step 1: Prep
Tip: Freeze the bowl. Whether you’re using a stand mixer with an ice cream attachment or a commercial ice cream maker, it’s usually best to freeze the bowl for a full 24 hours before use. Simply wrap the bowl in plastic and place it in your freezer one day in advance.
Step 2: Combine the Ingredients
Tip: Temper your ingredients. It’s important to introduce hot ingredients (like scalded milk) to the egg yolks very slowly, whisking constantly, to prevent curdling.
Step 3: Cook the Custard
Tip: Test the custard for doneness using a wooden spoon. Simply dip a wooden spoon into the custard, use your finger to trace a horizontal line along the back of the spoon, and watch to see how quickly the line fills itself back in. If the custard immediately fills the line back in, keep cooking it. If it takes a few seconds to fill the line, the custard is done.
Tip: Strain the custard. After your custard is fully cooked, it’s a good idea to strain it through a fine mesh sieve. This will ensure that there are no pieces of curdled egg in the ice cream.
Step 4: Chill the Custard
Tip: Enhance the flavor. If you’re using a vanilla bean (instead of vanilla extract) you can leave the pod in the custard while it cools; it will add extra flavor. Just be sure to remove the vanilla bean pod before pouring the chilled custard into the bowl of your ice cream machine.
Step 5: Use the Ice Cream Machine
Tip: Don’t overfill the mixing bowl. It’s necessary to leave some space in the bowl since air will be incorporated into the custard during the spinning process.
Step 6: Freeze the Ice Cream
Tip: Take measures to prevent ice crystals from forming. Layer the ice cream and any desired add-ins into a container, press plastic wrap up against the surface of the ice cream and seal the container before storing it in your freezer.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.