Is there any more enjoyable summer treat than a bowl or cone of delicious ice cream?? I have to admit that I absolutely love a bowl of “real” ice cream, and in fact I rarely keep it in my house because, well, I just can’t leave it alone if it’s there. Last summer our family spent the Canada Day weekend in Ottawa as is our tradition, with a dear friend that I have known since high school. While we were there she served up some homemade coffee ice cream that she had made with the ice cream maker attachment for her Kitchen Aid mixer – and I was hooked. I ran right out and bought the attachment, but fear of late night ice cream binges kept my new attachment from fulfilling it’s ice cream destiny until I finally cracked it open and made my first batch this past weekend. Stretchy pants, here I come…
Before I tackle any project, whether photography related or otherwise, I generally spend time doing some research. My ice cream project was no different, and I spent quite a bit of time looking at different recipes and techniques for ice cream, gelato, and sorbet before I settled on what to make for the maiden voyage of my new ice cream maker. I figured that a good place to start was with a classic vanilla ice cream. Vanilla ice cream is great on it’s own, and goes so nicely with many other things as well, like fresh fruit, warm seasonal pies, chocolate, caramel…I could go on here for awhile. I quickly realized that there are a couple schools of thought on how to make a good vanilla ice cream, and so I thought that a little vanilla ice cream throwdown was in order to choose the best homemade vanilla ice cream recipe.
For my recipe throwdown, I decided to go with the big guns – first, a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe by David Lebovitz. His qualifications? He is a professional chef and baker, has won many awards and been featured in the biggest food magazines, and he has written 6 books including the one most related to this post called The Perfect Scoop. The challenger is a Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe by Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, written specifically for an article in Food & Wine magazine. Jeni also has a recipe book called Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Click here for a blog post written by Jeni about the Food & Wine article, with more detailed recipe instructions.
|DL’s Vanilla Ice Cream
(Adapted from here)
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
A pinch of salt
* I used vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla bean and vanilla extract in both recipes
1. 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.
2. Heat the milk, salt, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan. Remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Gradually pour some of the warm milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, and then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.
|Jeni’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
(Adapted from here)
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 ½ ounces cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds.
3. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the salt.
5. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.
The main difference between the two ice cream recipes is that David Lebovitz’s recipe uses eggs yolks and a custard as the ice cream base. Jeni’s recipe uses cornstarch, which she believes creates a smoother, less icy texture in the final ice cream as well as a small amount of cream cheese and corn syrup. I didn’t find that the recipes differed too much in terms of effort – both required some babysitting by the stove, as well as a cooling and refrigeration stage.
The final verdict in this throwdown?? When I served both ice creams to my kids, they happily gobbled them up and declared them to be yummy. In terms of appearance, the custard-based ice cream was a bit yellower, but I couldn’t see any texture difference between the two. I could taste a slight difference in flavour due to the egg custard base of David Lebovitz’s recipe, and the Jeni’s recipe had a slightly mellower, more subtle flavour.
I think that I would probably use the Jeni’s recipe as my go-to in the future, but overall both batches turned out an ice cream that is absolutely delicious. Not sure that I can go back to store bought ice cream ever again…
All photos by Anita Woo.