“Words fail me to describe that ice cream. Marilla, I assure you it was sublime.”
Anne of Green Gables
Ice cream is a base of crème anglaise that is frozen, it is always best to make it at home. I present here a vanilla ice cream. It is best to make it with a vanilla pod, but if time is not in ample supply and we are also in a time of looming financial crisis, so I have the next best thing which is an essence of vanilla.
8 egg yolks, 250g sugar, 700mL milk, 100mL heavy cream, vanilla
I use 8 egg yolks, and 250g of sugar to 700mL of milk and 100mL of heavy cream. My proportions are very generous in sugar — only scoop per person! If you like to have several large scoops of ice cream, I would reduce the sugar to 175g.
A whisk, a large spatula, and a heavy pot are required; a thermometre is useful as well. First bring the milk and cream to a boil. Meanwhile, vigorously whisk the yolks and sugar. Did you know sugar crystals will cook egg yolks? So whisk immediately until the colour changes and a ribbon-like texture is achieved. Once the milk has boiled, slowly pour it over the eggs and sugar while whisking. We do this to avoid a sudden change in temperature which may cook the eggs. Pour everything back into the pot, and cook over moderate heat.
Crème anglaise is ready at 84C
Make sweeping lateral movements with your spatula to incorporate air into the mixture; the aim is to gradually raise the temperature, if the yolks coagulate, the crème anglaise is ruined. This technique is called vanner. When the mixture reaches 84C it should be ready. The visual test is more reliable I find. Give the mixture a whirl of the spatula, and it should be viscous enough that at the end the liquid wants to return in the other direction. Or dip a spoon and run a finger across the back of it, if the track mark stays, it is ready. At this point, the crème anglaise must be cooled. Continue with your spatula to add air to it until it has cooled to room temperature. At this point, I can reserve a portion into a plastic tube as vanilla sauce to be had with fruits or yogurt. Pour the rest into an ice cream maker, and it’s done! Sampling the ice cream when it is freshly made is mmmmm so delicious!
When I use a vanilla pod, I put it right into the boiling milk. I also let the crème anglaise cool 24 hours in the refrigerator. To remove the pod or not? I don’t.
The base is evident. It can be personalized in any way possible: an infusion of coffee in the boiling milk; part or all of the sugar can be replaced with a fruit syrup with chunks of fruits, or jam; a nut butter can be added to the boiling milk; etcetera, etcetera…
Fresh from the ice cream maker!
Artisan ice cream makers know that gourmets consider the vanilla ice cream to be the litmus test in assessing their skill and the quality of the ingredients. So whenever I meet ice cream from an acclaimed ice cream maker, I will always go for the vanilla and I compare it to what I make at home. I tried a legendary ice cream maker in France called “Beatrix”. You may wonder what to do with the 8 egg whites, here they make meringues.