Vanilla Ice Cream with a Classic Custard Base
Recipe Type: Dessert
Don’t worry if you struggle the first couple times. As with all culinary adventures, practice makes perfect. This recipe is also exceptionally versatile—feel free to be creative and add fruits, chocolates and other fun mix-ins when the ice cream is churning and close to completion.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
The Day Before:
  1. Freeze the container to your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, at least 24 hours ahead of making your custard.
Before You Do Anything Else:
  1. Prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bowl (with grips, remember!) with ice and just enough water that the cubes float a little bit.
  2. Prepare a fine-mesh strainer and a quart-sized zip-top bag. (Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream uses a zip-top bag instead of a bowl to chill her cooked custard because the increased surface area exposure stops the cooking process much faster, which is the goal when we’re putting the custard into an ice bath.)
Get Cooking:
  1. In a large, non-reactive, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the milk and cream to 170° F over medium heat. The mixture should be hot to the touch but not boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a separate bowl until well-combined.
  2. When the milk mixture reaches temperature, pour half of it in a slow, steady stream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking briskly and constantly. Make sure you scrape the sides and bottoms completely and evenly; letting the custard remain against the heated metal too long will result in scorching, which leads to curdled or broken custard. Do not let the custard boil.
  3. When the custard cooks to a thickness that leaves a clear trail when you run your finger over the back of the spatula (about 5 minutes), it’s done.
Stop the Cooking:
  1. Immediately remove the custard from the heat and pour through the fine-mesh sieve into your zip-top bag. Press out as much air as possible (be careful, it’s hot) and seal the bag.
  2. Immerse immediately in the ice bath. As mentioned above, the goal in this step is to stop the custard from continuing to cook from residual heat, so move quickly but safely.
  3. Once cooled, move zip-top bag to the refrigerator and allow to chill completely, at least one hour.
  4. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions until creamy and thick. At this point you m Transfer to a freezer-safe container, leaving a little room for further freezing. Freeze until hard-set, at least four hours.
Recipe by Honest Cooking by Mercato Fabbrica at