Paradise Gained: Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

“Oh hear’st thou rather pure ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,

Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice

of God, as with a mantle didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless infinite.”

– John Milton, “Paradise Lost”

Tonight I tasted heaven. Honestly; I can’t even describe to you how good this ice cream was. It was unlike any ice cream I’ve had before; even the best ice cream in the best restaurants with the best pastry chefs. This was silky and buttery and luscious. It felt like sex in silk pajamas on a cloud with Yoko Ono. Well, not with Yoko Ono. Oh my God, this ice cream was so good.

The recipe is listed in the Premium Ice Cream chapter of the ice cream cookbook that came with my ice cream maker. The ingredients cost an insane amount: almost $15. That’s like five cones at Ben & Jerry’s. But one scoop of this rich, creamy, velvety ice cream would send Ben and Jerry heading for the hills.

It began with a vanilla bean.


The recipe said the vanilla bean should measure six inches, and mine did:


[Julia Child reminds us: “It’s not the size of your vanilla bean, it’s how you use it.”]

Slice the vanilla bean in half:


Scrape up its seeds on the back of your knife:


Now prepare the cream and milk:


1.5 cups cream, 1.5 cups milk goes into a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and the pod.


Bring to a medium boil, then reduce to a simmer.

MEANWHILE, back in Gotham, Bruce Wayne prepares the eggs.


We want two whole eggs and three egg yolks. [“But what do I do with the egg whites?” whines Bruce. “See the meringue post beneath this, you dummy!”]


[Edited to add: “Add Sugar!!! 3/4ths a cup!”]

Now mix until pale yellow and thick, about two minutes:


After the cream, milk, and vanilla simmers for 30 minutes, pour out a cup into a measuring glass:


Slowly pour the hot liquid into the mixing egg mixture:


Let that mix for a moment, and then pour the mixture mixture into the original mixture: [How’s that for clear direction?]:


Mix over medium low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon:


Pour into a bowl:


Cover with saran wrap (directly on the custard):


Refrigerate for hours.

Go to dinner, eat salad, sing a song about it.

Then, get your ice cream maker ready. Pull the freezer bowl out of the freezer. Shake to make sure there’s no liquid. Put in place.

Then remove the bowl of custardy vanilla goodness from the fridge. Prepare to pour:




Next time, pour from something with better precision.

Watch your ice cream churn:


Follow Jeremy’s advise in the comments and scrape down the sides now and then.

Let twenty minutes go by.

Doesn’t that smell amazing?

And then:


Behold its stiffness! Behold its glory!

Serve in a coffee mug:


Watch your roommate’s eyes light up. Watch Katharine’s body quiver with contentment. Watch your cat chase a shoelace around the apartment.

Someday I want to make a list. The list will be called: “Things To Cook For People Who Don’t Cook To Convert Them Into People Who Cook.” These will entail dishes that are so jaw-droppingly good; so sensually gratifying that it will keep people up at night, craving their next opportunity to make it. This vanilla bean ice cream will surely make the list. It has me quoting Milton and lusting after Yoko Ono. It’s that good.

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