Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I was planning to make vanilla ice cream to go alongside a birthday cake, but after the planned cake failed to materialize I decided to form my vanilla ice cream into a cake. After removing from the ice cream machine, I spread it out onto a pre-frozen sheet pan. I covered with plastic wrap and allowed to harden for 2 hours (in step 9), then cut into three equal sized rectangles. I added caramel between the layers, but the caramel oozed out after just a few hours. While I wanted something to compliment that chocolate topping, I now see that anything between the layers must harden into a solid. If it were summer I might try some fruit, but at this time of year it looks like it must be chocolate.

Ice cream as a 3 layer cake

Ice cream as a 3 layer cake

Fortunately, a kid’s palate is fairly forgiving. Taste-wise, The cake was a very successful 4-1/2 stars; despite its visual shortcomings of the oozing caramel.


  1. Chris Kimball calls for a slightly different technique that takes 8 hours from start to finish, as opposed to 4-1/2 hours as I’ve described. The difference: He divides the custard in step 7 into 2 bowls; a small bowl containing 1 cup is placed in the freezer and allowed to freeze solid, and the remaining custard is chilled in the refrigerator. He says this will take between 4 and 24 hours. Instead, the ice bath technique as I described in step 6/7 allows the mixture to get nearly as cold in just one hour.
  2. Chris Kimball says to process in ice cream machine until it reaches 21-degrees,  about 15 to 25 minutes. Personally, I wait until the thickness of the ice cream looks good, which usually takes between 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. I made a small, three-layer ice cream cake out of the ice cream. Instead of pre-chilling an 8″-to-9″-square metal baking pan, I put a regular sheet pan lined with plastic wrap in freezer (in step 1). That allowed me to more easily work the ice cream, which I formed into a rustic cake. If you want a more regular shaped cake then use a knife to cut sides after the cake is assembled.
  4. For a delicious variation, roughly chop 12 Oreo cookies; my son’s favorite.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $2.50 per quart.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Started: 2pm. Ready: 6:30pm.

1-1/4 cups of 2% milk.
1-3/4 cup heavy cream.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar.
1/3 cup light corn syrup.
1/4 teaspoon salt.
6 egg yolks.
1 vanilla bean.
2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water; to be used as an ice bath after removing milk from stove-top. Place an 8″-to-9″-square metal baking pan in freezer.
  2. Add milk, heavy cream, about half the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 1/3 cup corn syrup and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a medium saucepan. Use a paring knife to cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then use the back of the knife to scrape out vanilla seeds (caviar). Add both the caviar and the empty stalks to the saucepan.
  3. Warm over medium burner for 5 minutes until the mixture reaches 160°; stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar completely dissolves. Temporarily remove pan from heat to prevent the milk from boiling.
  4. Meanwhile in a small bowl, beat the yolks together with 1/4 cup sugar.  Never let your yolks/sugar sit for more than a few minutes. Temper the yolks by whisking in 1/2 cup of the 160° milk/cream. Then whisk in a second 1/2 cup to further temper.
  5. Add the milk/yolk mixture back in with the milk in the saucepan. Cook over medium burner until the mixture reaches 180°; stir constantly with heat-proof spatula. Cooking too long will scramble your eggs.
  6. While the mixture heats up, wash your medium bowl and place it in ice batch.
  7. When the mixture reaches 180°, immediately strain your mixture through a fine-meshed strainer into the medium bowl (discarding empty vanilla pods). The ice batch will allow the mixture to cool in about 30 minutes; stirring occasionally will help. Then place the bowl in freezer for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour to further reduce the temperature. The mixture will begin to freeze along the sides of the bowl, which you should scrape down to further reduce the temperature.
  8. Add mix into the ice cream machine’s canister. Churn for 35 minutes, or per manufacturer’s instruction. While ice cream churns; pre-freeze the ice creams final container/bowl.
  9. Put finished ice cream in airtight container, or press plastic wrap against the ice cream’s surface. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 1 quart.
The layers were virtually indistinguishable.

The layers were virtually indistinguishable.

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