This dairy-free vanilla bean ice cream recipe is an easy one to master. It may seem complicated, but once you get the process down, it is simple to repeat. That is important for a vanilla recipe because vanilla often serves as the base for many other types of ice cream flavors. Once you make this recipe once, you may find yourself making it quite often.
While you could swap out the vanilla bean for vanilla extract, I advise against it. Using fresh vanilla beans by far surpasses using vanilla extract alone in terms of depth of flavor. While the term "vanilla" is often used to describe something bland and boring, this ice cream is anything but. It also pairs well with just about anything!
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
4 Large egg yolks (room temperature)
2/3 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup (room temperature)
3 Tablespoons cold water
2 Teaspoons gelatin
1 Can (13.5oz) full fat coconut milk
2 Cans (5.4oz) coconut cream
1 Large vanilla bean
1 Tablespoon high-quality vanilla extract (optional - to taste)
Required kitchen tools:
Ice Cream Maker (mine is a 1.5 Quart Cuisinart ICE-21)
Heat-proof mixing bowl
Fine mesh sieve
Reusable insulated ice cream tub and/or disposable ice cream pints
And assorted kitchen stuff
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Step 2: Pour Out Coconut Milk
Pour all of the coconut milk and cream into a heavy bottom sauce pan.
Step 3: Add Vanilla Bean
Very carefully slice a vanilla bean in half across its full length using a paring knife.
Scrape out the inside contents of vanilla bean into the pan with the coconut milk.
Bring the mixture to just a boil, remove it from the heat, and then let it sit for about one hour. Stir occasionally. Covering the pan can also help in getting more of a rich flavor.
Step 4: Strain the Milk
Strain 1-1/2 cups of the coconut milk into a measuring cup.
Strain the rest into a separate bowl and set aside.
The strainer is used to remove any husk from the vanilla bean that ended up in the milk, and not the seeds. Make sure not to lose too many of the vanilla seeds in this process.
Step 5: Whisk the Eggs and Syrup
Whisk together 4 eggs yolks with 2/3 cup of maple syrup.
Step 6: Bloom the Gelatin
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of gelatin into 3 tablespoons of cold water. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to bloom. You will know it's ready when all of the gelatin has dissolved into the water and it has expanded in size.
Step 7: Boil the Milk Again
Pour the 1-1/2 cups of coconut milk back into the sauce pan and bring it back to just a boil over a low to medium heat.
Step 8: Make Custard
Once the milk is boiling, it now time to make the custard.
Slowly pour it into the eggs and maple syrup while whisking constantly.
Once combined, pour it back into the sauce pan and set it over a low heat. Attach a thermometer to the sauce pan.
Stir the custard mixture with a spatula until the thermometer reaches at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (and no more than 175). If you are not sure it's done, the custard should be the consistency of a heavy cream, coat the back of the spatula when dipped in, and leave a trail if you pull your finger across it. All-in-all, this should take about 5 minutes to cook.
Step 9: Finish Up the Batter
Strain the custard one more time into a new bowl (to remove any curdled bits).
Whisk in the bloomed gelatin.
Next, whisk in the rest of the coconut milk that was set aside earlier.
Finally, taste it and see if you like it. Keep in mind that flavor will continue to develop over the next few hours.
If you don't think it is vanilla-y enough for your liking, you can always add a tablespoon or two of high quality vanilla extract. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don't. It depends on the richness of the batter.
Step 10: Refrigerate
Cover the batter and refrigerate it for at least 5 hours.
Step 11: Make Ice Cream
Make the ice cream as specified by the instruction manual for your ice cream maker. I find it typically takes about 10-15 minutes to finish when I make this using my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker.
Step 12: Store and Enjoy
Package up the ice cream and stick it in the freezer for a few more hours before serving (unless you want it the consistency of soft serve).
Enjoy at your leisure.