I have (well now make this had) two vanilla beans that I got for a really good price at World Market almost a year ago, and decided that I finally needed to use them! Plus, I have an ice cream maker that had only been used once...so that meant vanilla bean ice cream! This was such an easy recipe to make - there were all of 6 ingredients.
The first time I made ice cream, the only actual problem I had was making a custard. This time, the blog suggested cooking the custard directly over heat instead of in a double boiler, and I successfully got a thickened custard. For a while I thought it was never going to thicken, and then suddenly it got really thick! So just have patience and it will work out perfectly.
I didn't have vanilla sugar to use for this recipe, but I will the next time I make something vanilla-based! I washed off the used vanilla bean and stuck it in a tupperware, covered with sugar. Within a few days the sugar already had a great vanilla flavor. I'm going to have to go back to World Market to stock up - $2.99 for 2 vanilla beans is a great deal.
I made just one change, in the proportion and amount of milk and cream. I only had one small carton of heavy cream so I used 1 cup of cream, and 2 cups of whole milk. The original recipe called for 2.5 cups dairy total, but I wanted to stretch out the ice cream a bit. I used 1.5 cups of the whole milk in the custard, then added the cream plus the extra 1/2 cup whole milk right before churning.
So please make this ice cream! It's really rich (even with the extra milk) and not overly sweet. If you have vanilla sugar, definitely use it, but I can say that it doesn't negatively affect the flavor if you use regular sugar.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (adapted slightly from Mangio da Sola)
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Put 1 1/2 cups of the milk, vanilla seeds, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan, and heat gently to near-boiling point.
In a separate, heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar, using a whisk or electric beater, until thick and pale. Add a little of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to warm it up slightly, then beat in the rest of the milk.
Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir the mixture until it coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the bowl from the heat, and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap or waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming.
Allow the custard to cool completely by refrigerating mixture for 4 hours to overnight.
Once cool, stir in the cream, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla extract and churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Serve immediately, or transfer to a freezer container; cover the surface directly with waxed paper or foil, and put in the freezer.