I know, I know … you’re probably thinking “um … Red … it’s December and today’s high was 34 degrees.  What’s up with the ice cream recipe?!”

But, last night I was thinking that, in this season of cookies, mincemeat pies, cakes and goodwill towards men, is there any better accompaniment than ice cream?  And, for minimal effort, you can have a container of cold, creamy deliciousness that would make both Ben AND Jerry weep in envy.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, then try creme anglaise!  It’s the exact same process – and, more to the point – the exact same recipe which you can serve hot or cold.  While it’s not the best match for a big plate of cookies, it’s simply gorgeous with pies, cakes or a steaming Christmas pudding!

Vanilla Ice Cream or Creme Anglaise

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2/3 cup sugar

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, add the milk.  Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of your knife to scrape out the seeds, then add them to the milk.  Cut the pod shell in half and add that to the milk, as well.  Give the milk and vanilla mixture a good whisk to make sure everything is thoroughly incorporated, then heat until you see tiny bubbles form on the perimeter of the pot.  Immediately turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes or so.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until it’s a pale yellow.  Strain the cooled milk mixture into the yolk and whisk well to combine, then pour back into the pot and heat until it reaches a temperature of 170 F (the point at which you no longer need to worry about salmonella), stirring constantly.  At this point, the mixture should coat the back of a metal spoon.  To test, run your finger along the back of the spoon – the trail should remain if you hold the spoon horizontally.

Et voila!  You have Creme Anglaise – or, if you want ice cream, just follow the directions on your ice cream maker for how long your custard needs to chill.

Ice cream - makes even the best desserts that much better ...