Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with (or without) Chocolaty Inclusions

My daughter likes vanilla ice cream. NOT chocolate ice cream. Vanilla. And although I would prefer to rant about how unfair it is that my chocolate-loving genes were not passed down to her, I decided to accept it, and instead learn to make the best vanilla ice cream possible. And potentially add in some chocolaty bits that would be acceptable to her, and satisfy my chocolate needs.

Truthfully, I like vanilla ice cream. but only when there are real vanilla bean specks in it and when it is rich and creamy.  Ten years ago when I lived in France, I noticed that vanilla ice cream always had specks of vanilla bean in it.  And when I tasted it, it compared to no other that I had tasted before. But when I came back to Canada, it took another few years before some producers on this side of the ocean figured out that real vanilla bean is better.

By making my own ice cream, I can make it healthier and all natural, and I can make it just as tasty as the stuff at the super market. And my little home ice cream maker (I have a Cuisinart), is all I need to make great ice cream.

So after many, many experiments over the last several weeks (and yes, I've eaten most of the experiments, but this stuff really must be healthier because I've lost a few pounds at the same time!), here is my super healthy, real vanilla bean ice cream recipe that has no cane sugar, is all natural, and of course, super delicious.

Please note:  The recipe below can exclude the corn starch and the simmering, so you can simply mix all the ingredients together and pour into your ice cream maker right away (with no waiting time for the mix to cool!), BUT your ice cream will not have the same creamy texture.  It will still be creamy tasting, and quite delicious, but with an imperfect texture. Think 'frosty dairy dessert'.

Recipe: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with (or without) Cookies and Cream or Chocolate Chunks

Preparation Time: 8 hours and 30 minutes (if simmering for a smoother, creamier texture), or 30 minutes if not simmering and excluding the corn starch)

You need:
  • 2 cups of whole milk (homogenized makes it creamy, but you can use skim/fat free if you prefer, it just won't be as smooth and creamy)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup blue agave syrup (use regular or raw sugar, coconut sugar or honey if nothing else)
  • 1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean (or the scrapings of 1 or 2 vanilla beans)
  • 1.5 tbsp. corn starch (exclude if not simmering, see note above)
Inclusion Options: 1/2 cup Crushed Oreo Cookies, 1/3 cup (about 2 oz) milk chocolate or semi-sweet dark chocolate, melted (you can use high quality chocolate chips if you like, or broken up chocolate bars)

  1. Place the milk, whipping cream, agave syrup (or sugar), vanilla bean and corn starch into a medium sauce pan.  Stir with a whisk or an immersion blender until fully mixed. 
  2. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop over medium heat. Then let simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Cover and let cool in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Place ice cream into the ice cream maker for 20 minutes. 
  5. If you are not adding inclusions, either eat immediately for soft ice cream, or pour the ice cream into an air tight container and freeze until ready to use.

For Cookies and Cream Ice Cream:

  1. Crush your Oreo cookies in a sealed zipper sandwich bag and roll over the cookies with a rolling pin or strong cup to crush. 
  2. Pour cookies slowly into the ice cream maker in the last 2 minutes of ice cream making time (see above).

For Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

  1. Once you pour your cream/milk mix into the ice cream maker, measure out your chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. 
  2. Melt it in the microwave for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Place back in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir until smooth and set aside until the ice cream reaches about 18 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate very slowly into the top of the ice cream maker.  Use a spoon to separate it as it reaches the ice cream or you will have very large chunks. Once it is all in, stop the ice cream maker.
  4. Stir and place in an airtight container with a lid.  Freeze until ready to eat!
Now that you have the basics, it's time to experiment! Next week I'll be changing up the vanilla and agave for maple, honey, caramel, and maybe even peanut butter! 

To learn more about my ice cream adventures this summer, or to try other recipes, view these posts:

Make Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Instant Hot Chocolate Mix
Homemade Dark Chocolate Ice Cream



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