My children love ice cream as much as any other kids. Being the label readers they are, we often end up scrutinizing the ice cream section for something suitable. Because I make my own ice cream sugar free and it looked like so much fun, they wanted in on the game. So I decided to start out with something simple, vanilla.
Here's plain and simple vanilla that my entire family loves. Of course, when you make it yourself you probably won't be eating it every single night. The recipe below is half of what I use to make a big batch for our large family so feel free to double it if necessary.
I like to use real vanilla bean seeds but if you don't have them or don't want to spend the extra money just use vanilla exract. I have used extract and it is still delicious! For this recipe I use one entire vanilla bean by splitting it open and running my knife blade along the inside of the bean to extract the fragrant seeds.
This is perhaps one of the easiest recipes for ice cream that I've ever made. I adapted it from a recipe that came with my ice cream maker to make it tastier and healthier. One thing that makes it super easy is that it uses heavy cream but no egg yolks. Because the ice cream doesn't contain egg yolks it isn't heated. Most recipes use eggs to improve the texture of ice cream, but no complaints here!
I chose maple syrup because it contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white sugar. Actually, I don't keep white sugar in my house, instead I keep raw local honey and this maple syrup that I get from Costco. It probably goes without saying, but I can't help myself; only use REAL maple syrup, not “pancake syrup” or “maple-flavored syrup” please!
I wouldn't consider maple syrup a health food but we're making ice cream for kids, so it's gonna have something sweet in it. Better this than high fructose corn syrup or white sugar from genetically enginered beets.
The heavy cream I use comes from Trader Joe's and if I don't have some local whole milk on hand, I'll also pick up some whole milk while I'm there. Skim milk and reduced fat milk do not produce delicious ice cream in this recipe, so don't substitute here.
Part of the fun is letting the kids do as much as possible. We used to have a hand-cranked ice cream maker but I believe the electric one has more consistent results. They tend to congregate around the bucket while waiting for the magic to happen.
The churning time varies depending on how much ice and salt you use, how big of a batch you made, and how eager you are!! This is what it looks like when you want to eat it but it's not quite ready. If you are impatient (like we are) and eat it at this stage it will be delicous like soft serve ice cream. Yum!
For those who prefer a harder ice cream, keep churning! Follow your ice cream maker instructions but one thing I have noticed with ours is that scraping down the sides during the churning process is best if you want a firmer ice cream.
Any leftovers can be saved in the freezer for up to two weeks but let's face it, there's no way this will last two weeks.
Vanilla Ice Cream sweetened with maple syrup
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- Dash of salt
- Seeds from one vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Combine milk and maple syrup, stirring well.
- Stir in salt, vanilla bean seeds, and cream.
- Refrigerate at least two but up to 24 hours
- Prepare in ice cream maker according to directions.
- Dish up and enjoy!
This recipe can also be used for a popsicle base to which you add fruit, flavorings, cookie dough, brownie bits, etc. See an example of this in my Labor Day Weekend Celebration post.