French Vanilla Ice Cream

If I am thinking ahead and want a rich, creamy ice cream, I make this custard-based, french vanilla ice cream.

You will need an ice cream maker for this recipes.

This recipe is modified from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, whipped
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups hot whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or whole vanilla bean)
2 cups heavy cream (or half and half)


  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended (no heat).
  • Gradually whisk in hot milk and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens slightly about 10 to 12 minutes. It is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not bring to a boil or it will curdle.
  • Remove from heat and cool.
  • Strain with a fine-mesh sieve (you may have a few eggy parts). Add cream and stir.
  • Place in ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  • If you prefer a firm ice cream, transfer ice cream to a plastic container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. We can never wait that long, plus I think it is best when it is freshly churned.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Try adding these combos:.

Maple Walnut
Substitute 1/2 cup of maple syrup for the sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Ginger Peach
2 cup fresh peaches, chopped (reserve juice and add to mixture)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Summer Stawberry Ice Cream

When I was a kid we usually made two kinds of ice cream, peach and strawberry. I knew it was special for a couple of reasons. First, we only had it in the summer when the fruit was freshly picked. I don’t think anyone would have stood for canned or rock hard out-of-season peaches. Second, it took a long time to make.

We had a hand-cranked ice cream churner, the kind that used rock salt and ice. We always made ice cream when there was a big crowd. I’m guessing that is because of the abundance of free child labor. If you knew ice cream was being made, you tried to stay away from the porch. If got too close and made eye contact with any adult, you would be summoned to take your turn churning.

These days, I have an electric ice cream maker. No rock salt is needed so the process is much simpler. Here’s how I usually make ice cream: I glance around my kitchen and see what I have and improvise.

This week, I picked up some-fresh-from-the-field strawberries and thought they would be perfect for the summer’s first ice cream. In a bowl, I added a couple of cups of milk (I use cream when I have it). I eyeballed it for two people. Trying to stay on the non-refined sugar train, I added honey. I then added vanilla extract and a dash of salt. I tasted and adjusted for flavor. Then I grabbed the ice cream maker from the freezer, plugged it in and started churning.

Now, when you cook this way, you have some successes and you have some failures. Somehow this honey strawberry ice cream missed the mark. My husband claimed to have liked it, but I didn’t. I think the honey was too floral for my taste.

It would break my heart to throw out perfectly good milk and strawberries so like many of my mistakes, I transformed it. I let it melt, added flour and baking powder and made strawberry bread. It was ok, still not great. From there, my husband sliced it and made French toast—much, much better. Finally, I turned the leftovers into bread pudding, which is the most common final resting place for all things bread in our kitchen—perfect.

But it wasn’t the strawberry ice cream I had been craving, so I started again and used sugar this time. It tasted just like summer!

If I want to make ice cream on the fly, I make a Philadelphia style, which doesn’t use eggs or require cooking and cooling.

You will need an ice cream maker for this recipes. One fun one to get is an Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker Ball). Once the ball is frozen, you add the ingredients and roll it around until the ice cream is done. How fun is that?

Modified from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream with Strawberries

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or whole vanilla bean)
3 cups fresh strawberries, chopped


  • Whisk all ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Place in ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  • Serve freshly churned. This one doesn’t freeze as well as the custard.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts.