Monica's favorite gear for
making Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
My recipe uses Jeni's simple tips and surprising ingredients that result in an amazingly smooth and creamy texture. This cookbook has lots of great flavors and tips.
I LOVE this thing! It is so easy to use. Pre-freeze the insert, add ingredients, and turn it on. Approx. a half hour later, the ice cream is ready to eat.
This is a vanilla syrup with real vanilla bean specks--an easy, less expensive way to add this authentic flavor and look to your ice cream.
This handy gizmo is like having two extra hands to hold open a ziploc while pouring in the ice cream mixture. I use it frequently when filling ziplocs with a variety of foods.
I mix and keep the ice cream mixture in these jars up to 3 days before freezing it. Love the make-ahead convenience

Smooth & Creamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


I took a breather this past week. Miss me? I'm back in the kitchen and taking photos, so I've got some good stuff to share in upcoming posts. I hope you'll try today's recipe. It's a goodie.

Here are the reasons for sharing this scrumptious ice cream recipe today:

  • July is National Ice Cream Month. We are required to eat ice cream this month. It's the law.
  • It's 100+ degrees in St. Louis and many places across the US this week. What better way to cool down than to eat a big bowl of cold ice cream?
  • I have tried some recipes and tips from a great new ice cream cookbook, and I can't wait to share them with you!

So, there you have it. We're all screamin' for ice cream, and I've got a yummy recipe to share. I'm starting with my new favorite vanilla bean ice cream recipe. A good basic vanilla ice cream is the perfect complement to so many desserts. Plus, vanilla is King-Man's favorite flavor. So I'm starting here. I'll share other flavors in upcoming posts.

I recently purchased a fabulous new ice cream cookbook called Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Jeni has several hugely popular ice cream shops in Ohio; the mothership is in Columbus. Reading her recipes makes me want to take a trip to Columbus just to sample all the varieties. Seriously. This is an amazing collection of recipes. Her path to business success makes for a good read, too. Instructions are provided for using Jeni's techniques for creating ice cream flavor combinations of your own. That's right up my alley.

Uncommon ingredients, uncommonly delicious results
What's unique about Jeni's approach is some uncommon homemade ice cream ingredients (small amounts of cream cheese, corn starch, and corn syrup) that lead to an uncommonly smooth and creamy texture and rich flavor. At least they're uncommon to me--I've never made ice cream that included those ingredients. Another surprise is achieving such rich flavor without eggs; this is not a custard-based recipe. Jeni uses these same base ingredients in every ice cream recipe in her book, even her frozen yogurt.

I made some minor adjustments, primarily increasing the quantities of ingredients--Jeni's portions resulted in a smaller batch than I wanted. Otherwise, I followed her lead. I've made 3 batches of this recipe and got consistently smooth, creamy, delicious results. King-Man (the resident ice cream lover) can't get enough of this stuff.

Plan ahead 24 hours
You'll need an ice cream freezer. I have a Cuisinart 2 qt. ice cream freezer. LOVE it. So easy to use. I do have to plan ahead, though. The container that fits in the center of the machine has to hang out in the freezer for 24 hours before you make ice cream in it.


Step-by-step photos for making Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

(Don't let the volume of photos mislead you into thinking this is complicated. It's really easy to make this ice cream. The detailed photos are to provide visuals for those who haven't made ice cream before. This mixture goes together very quickly. Honest.)

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients: whole milk, whipping cream, sugar, corn syrup (this is not the icky high-fructose kind), cream cheese, fine sea salt, corn starch, vanilla bean or vanilla paste (or you can substitute vanilla extract).


3 ways to incorporate vanilla into the recipe:

  • Use one whole vanilla bean, cut it open lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. These are pricey; if you can afford them, the flavor can't be beat. Many grocery stores carry these. Or, you can get them online from Penzey's or Amazon.
  • Use vanilla bean paste. This is a vanilla syrup that contains vanilla beans (see photo on the right below). It's available at specialty cooking stores and in 2 bottles sets from Amazon. Still pricey, but not as much as the whole beans. This is what I use in this recipe and some baked goods. It's an easy, less expensive alternative to the whole beans. I like having it on hand in my pantry.
  • Use vanilla extract. Not quite as good, but you can get great flavor from a good quality vanilla extract. This has the advantage of being more available and less expensive. Of course, you won't get the vanilla bean specks in your ice cream if you use this. 

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Step 2. Add cream cheese and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk it to soften the cream cheese and remove any lumps. Set that aside for now.

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Step 3. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch with some of the milk. Set that aside, too.

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Step 4. In a 5 quart pan, combine the remaining ingredients (including the vanilla pod and scraped-out beans, if using). Use medium-high heat to bring them to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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The photo below is what a rolling boil looks like--it is boiling/bubbling vigorously all around the surface, and you can't stir away the bubbling. Start clocking the 4 minutes of boil time when it looks like this:

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Step 5. Remove from heat, and whisk in the corn starch/milk slurry.

Step 6. Return to heat and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes; it will thicken ever-so-slightly.

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(If you're using a whole vanilla bean pod, remove the pod from the mixture and discard it now.)

Step 7. Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the cream cheese; whisk until smooth and no lumps are left before adding more liquid. Continue gradually adding and whisking hot liquid until all is combined and smooth.

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Step 8. The mixture has to be really cold before it can be added to the ice cream machine. If you want to freeze the ice cream ASAP, here's the way to chill the hot liquid quickly. Pour it into a 1-gallon ziploc freezer bag. I use a baggy holder rack to hold open the bag while I pour. Zip the bag shut--make sure there aren't any leaks.

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Step 9. Fill a large bowl 3/4 full with ice cubes and add water (it needs to be heavy on the ice cubes). Immerse the bag of hot liquid into the ice water. Chill it for approx. 30 minutes until the liquid is cold throughout, adding more ice cubes if needed.

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Make ahead tip: You can make the ice cream mixture up ahead, skip the ice water chill down, and chill it in the refrigerator (at least over night) until you're ready to freeze the ice cream. I made an extra batch of the mixture, poured into a 2-qt mason jar, and held it in the fridge for 3 days before freezing it into ice cream. Turned out great. No different from the ice cream I froze immediately after making the mixture.


Step 10. Time to freeze the ice cream. Follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. I removed my freezer bowl from the freezer (it had been there for the required 24 hours), inserted it into my machine, turned it on, and poured in the chilled ice cream mixture.


In my machine, it took 25 minutes for the ice cream to freeze completely. You know it's ready when the ice cream is pulling away from the sides of the canister. 

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The finished ice cream has a soft-serve consistency. It's smooth but slightly grainy at this point. The texture gets smoother/creamier/better when you put it in the freezer for a few hours.

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Step 11. Transfer the ice cream to a container. Tap it on the counter to remove any bubbles and level it. Cover the surface with a piece of parchment paper (or use wax paper; but, don't use plastic wrap--it can stick in the folds of the ice cream and be hard to remove). Put an air-tight lid on it.

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Step 12. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer for at least 4 hours.

Step 13. When it's time to serve the ice cream, remove it from the freezer & peel off the parchment paper. If it's too hard to scoop, let it sit out for 5 or so minutes--that will soften it enough to be scoopable.

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At last, time to sample this creamy goodness. Look at those vanilla bean specks.

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This is a great fix for the hot weather blues.


Try adding some berries or other favorite fruit or toppings. Try chopped fresh mangoes on this ice cream--to die for! Here are two more of my favorite toppings (from previous posts).

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This Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is totally delicious all by itself, too.

Better eat this before it melts.


Don't forget to eat ice cream this month. It's the law.

Make it a yummy day!


Looking for a fun wedding or summer gift?
Everyone loves ice cream. Here's a great 3-gift combo:
(click on images for links)

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  • Add to the gift with a basket of ice cream bowls & fixins -- cones, caramel sauce, fudge sauce, maraschino cherries, sprinkles, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, M&M's, etc.  FUN!


Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
By Monica              Servings: makes 5-6 cups
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons (2-1/4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; OR 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste; OR 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Add cream cheese and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk until cream cheese is smooth; set aside. In small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons milk with cornstarch; set aside. In 5 quart pan, combine remaining  milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla paste or extract; (if using whole vanilla bean, add pod and scraped-out beans). On medium-high heat bring mixture to rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and whisk in the corn starch/milk slurry. Return to heat and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes; it will thicken slightly. Remove vanilla bean pod, if using. Add 1/2 cup hot liquid to cream cheese & whisk until smooth. Gradually add and stir in remaining hot mixture; whisking until smooth.
--To quick chill mixture for making ice cream right away: Fill large bowl 3/4 full with ice cubes and add water. Pour hot milk mixture into 1 gallon freezer Ziploc bag, seal and immerse in bowl of ice water for at least 30 minutes until mixture is completely chilled; add more ice as needed.
--To chill mixture for making ice cream later: Pour it into jar or pitcher, cover, and chill at least over night or up to 3 days.
--To freeze ice cream: Pour chilled mixture into ice cream freezer and freeze according to instruction of your ice cream maker. When finished, pour frozen ice cream into separate container and press a sheet of parchment paper on top. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours until firm. If it's frozen too hard to scoop, let ice cream soften at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before scooping and serving.
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Check out this easy chocolate ice cream recipe--no machine required!
Individual Chocolate Dream Ice Cream Cups 


Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Tags: Desserts

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