Making French-style custard ice cream (avec machine)

Those of you who’ve made pastry cream before will likely recognize this process, for indeed the steps are almost identical — especially since I’m making vanilla bean instead of peach (what can I say, I waited too long and they rotted…oh well!). Start by splitting your vanilla bean in twain like so:

Scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife…

…and scrape once again into the saucepan containing one cup of milk and one cup of cream. Why such a short knife for handling a vanilla bean? Partly control, mostly to keep from accidentally flicking my little mound of seeds all the way into the living room.

Give the dairy ingredients (plus vanilla) a good whisk and set the pan on medium-high to scald (not boil).

In the meantime whisk together four egg yolks and four ounces of sugar…

…until it looks like this:

When the cream is just below boiling, pour about 75% of it into the yolk and sugar mixture.

Whisk briefly to combine them.

Strain the whole mess back into the sauce pan through a fine sieve…

…and put the mixture back on medium heat — but be sure and watch it closely, since it won’t take long at all for the mixture to reach 175 degrees…probably only thirty seconds to a minute. At which point your custard ice cream mix should be the perfect consistency. To double check, dip a spoon in the mixture and run your finger down the back of it. This is what you should see:

At this point you’ll need to let your mixture cool for a hour or more, then put it in the lowest shelf in the fridge in the very back to chill. The next day simply pour it into your ice cream machine and let it run per your machine’s directions…usually about half an hour…

…until it looks like this:

A bit like soft serve. And while it may appear a little grainy, trust me, it isn’t. The uneven consistency is due to slightly firmer bits in the semi-frozen mix. Now’s the point where you want to hustle your ice cream into a container and put it in the freezer to firm for a least a couple of hours, or overnight.

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