If you learn the simple process of making Ice Cream Custard Base, any flavor ice cream is possible, and you can master the art easily. Dare to experiment with flavors!   Brandied Peach? Caramelized Onion?  Cantaloupe and Basil?
Ice Cream Custard Base - cooling

Ice Cream Custard Base
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 1 Quart
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Cup sugar
  1. Fill a large bowl or pan with ice and water. Put a large, clean bowl in the ice bath and fit the bowl with a fine-mesh strainer.
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan (see Notes) over medium heat, combine the cream and milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling. (If you’re using a thermometer, the temperature you’re seeking is 170 degrees F. )
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
  4. When the milk and cream are so hot your finger hurts when you touch it, take the mixture off the heat.
  5. Begin tempering the egg yolks. This means slowly add a little of the hot cream mixture to the eggs while whisking constantly. Once you have slowly added about half of the hot liquid, whisking vigorously the whole time, transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan and continue whisking.
  6. You’re about halfway done with the recipe that will allow you to make nearly all the recipes your ice-cream loving heart desires.
  7. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook the mixture while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan so the custard doesn’t scorch. If you’re not careful, the custard will burn or become very wet scrambled eggs.
  8. Simmer, but still don’t let it boil.
  9. The custard base is finished when it begins to thicken and heavily coats the spatula, usually about 10 minutes. On a thermometer it will read between 170 degrees and 175 degrees F. (If you screw up and it gets lumpy—that is, the custard curdles, or “breaks”—you might be able to save it by putting it in a blender and getting it smooth again. It’s messy, but it often works. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons heavy cream while blending to make it smooth, if you need to.)
  10. Remove the custard from the heat and immediately pour it through the strainer into the clean bowl you set up in the ice bath. Don't press any solids through the strainer. Just drain and scrape the liquid from the bottom of the strainer. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally to speed it along.
  11. When the base has totally cooled, cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator until well chilled, at least 1 hour. Then it’s ready to spin in the ice cream machine whenever you’re ready. Letting it rest overnight helps develop the flavor, but if you can’t wait, you can’t wait.
  12. The base will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. You’ll know when it’s gone bad. If you keep it long enough, you’ll have sweet cheese.
“Nonreactive” is a fancy way of saying not copper or aluminum, either of which can add unwanted flavor or color to the base. Stainless steel or enamel are ideal solutions.

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