Making ice cream using a sous vide machine is a complete game changer. Not only do you get perfectly cooked custard without the risk of curdled yolks, it also takes almost no work to achieve: no tempering, no patient stirring over low, low heat, nada. Just drop the bag in the water and wait, and you’ll have perfect results.
I can never get enough of homemade ice cream, so I’m including plenty of options in this chapter. Feel free to use this vanilla ice cream recipe as a blank canvas for all your ice cream–making endeavors. Vanilla does a great job of subtly enhancing the flavors of other complementary ingredients, but there are some instances where the flavors might clash. For this reason, I make vanilla an optional ingredient in the other ice cream recipes that follow. Other aromatic ingredients I like to use in lieu of vanilla are citrus zests; coffee beans; spices such as cardamom pods, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and coriander; and herbs such as mint, lemongrass, bay, basil, and thyme. Add these at your discretion when whipping up your own inspired creamy creations, and be sure to strain the custard to remove any coarse bits before pouring it into the ice cream machine.
You can also make any fruit-flavored ice cream by swapping out some of the milk for a juice or puree. Feeling boozy? Up to 2 tablespoons of nearly any alcoholic beverage can be stirred into the base after chilling. Some of my favorites are Cognac, amaro, Grand Marnier, amaretto, and crème de cassis. The only ingredient I wouldn’t recommend you omit is the honey (or corn syrup), as it greatly improves the texture of ice cream because the glucose helps prevent the formation of larger ice crystals, resulting in a smoother end product.
How to freeze without an ice cream machine