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Vanilla Ice Cream that does not Compromise Flavor

Vanilla Ice Cream.The first time I made ice cream with a real vanilla bean (pod) was in 1994. The recipe’s picture of the “Classic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream”, with little specks of vanilla in the off-white ice cream looked delicious. I carefully followed the recipe and what I ended up with was a very yellow ice cream with a strong custard flavor. It still tasted great, and the pure vanilla flavor was delightful, but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that the vanilla wasn’t the star of the show as I felt the recipe title implied. My wife and I had made vanilla ice cream (from extract) with eggs on many Backroads camping trips with no custard flavors, so what was different? The ice cream we made while camping on the North rim of the Grand Canyon with raw eggs was more Philadelphia style while the classic vanilla bean ice cream I just made was French style.

What’s all the fuss about style?
Philadelphia style ice cream typically refers to ice cream that contains no eggs. With no eggs, there is also less justification to cook the ingredients first, so some also consider the lack of cooking to be one of the primary traits of Philadelphia style ice creams. Nevertheless, some recipes with an unheated ice cream base and raw eggs are also sometimes referred to as Philadelphia style. Salmonella infection from raw eggs, although increasingly rare, should be taken into consideration when making ice cream with raw eggs.

French style ice cream typically refers to an ice cream that contains eggs and is heated with cream and/or milk to produce a custard base. This yields an extremely smooth, creamy textured ice cream with a custard flavor. The egg yolks also impart color, so the resulting cream is typically anything but white. It turns out that what I had actually made was a French Vanilla ice cream. Delicious, but not what I was looking for.

A compromise that yields the best from both styles.
What I really wanted was a recipe that had the creaminess associated with a custard base, but less eggy overtones. I experimented a little last year and came up with this recipe. With only 2 egg yolks, this recipe takes the compromise between Philadelphia style vanilla and French vanilla to the extraordinary.

Ingredients for Vanilla Ice Cream.

Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise with a knife and then scrape out the seeds.

Add milk, cream, vanilla seeds and pod to saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.

Add 1/4 cup of the sugar to egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy.

With mixer on low speed, slowly add hot milk and cream mixture to beaten sugar and egg yolks. Mix in remaining sugar.

Return mixture to heat, add vanilla bean and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 170° F.

Pour ice cream base through strainer or chinois to remove any egg bits and vanilla pod fibers.

Chill mixture in ice bath until colder than 45° F.

Pour chilled ice cream base into chilled canister.

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

After letting sit for 1 minute, ice cream should lift out easily with dasher.

Transfer ice cream to dedicated container to ripen in freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery—yes, this is a subset—can be found on the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe page.

  • There is nothing better than a wonderfully made vanilla ice cream with real vanilla beans. Oh my!

  • John Kanagaraj (HDS)


    I would have never guessed you were such an accomplished chocolatier (is there such a term? whatever – you know what I mean!) Your work is really professional – the photos and text are excellent! Have you ever considered writing a book?


  • Thanks for the great feeback, John. I think it’s a bit premature to talk about a book, but maybe someday!