Now I have eaten Vanilla Ice Cream in many excellent restaurants, some even with Michelin stars. I have also eaten most of the top branded Vanilla Ice Creams on sale in the main UK Supermarkets. Oh yes, and the ghastly Mr Whippy offerings from the sea-side ice cream vans. You could say that I have some experience in this field of gastronomy. What a fantastic and pleasurable discovery it was, a month or so ago, for me to have made, by sheer luck, the best Vanilla Ice Cream in the world. In my opinion! And only using Cream, Milk and Sugar, along with pure Vanilla Bean Extract, foregoing the need for thickeners, emulsifiers, glucose syrup and any other unhealthy additives. And no machines required, other than a hand whisk, and a freezer of course.
It started with me having a go at making my own condensed milk as I had around 4 pints too much after a weekends entertaining. Too good to go to the dogs as it was the best organic semi-skimmed from Duchy Originals. The milk and sugar mixture took ages to reduce down, and I was left with around 2 pints of it when it was made. I made two big batches of the most excellent fudge to give away as presents, and then I wondered if I could use the rest for ice cream, even though it was a lot runnier than the bought stuff. I did, and it produced the most amazing result, the recipe for which follows shortly.
Now I am no stranger to making ice cream with condensed milk, and previously have always used the Nestle variety, widely available in the UK. Indeed, today, I have just posted a super recipe of mine for Strawberry Ice Cream, using bought condensed milk , on this very blog. But I find that, without the addition of a watery fruit pulp such as strawberries, to make a plain vanilla ice cream using commercial condensed milk gives a slighty gloopy texture, without the smooth, light but creamy melting ability of a really good ice cream. And so to my recipe!
INGREDIENTS, to make 1.5 litres of ice cream
1 litre of semi-skimmed milk, preferably organic
350g granulated sugar
1 600 ml pot of double cream. (Do not be tempted to use extra thick double cream, or the thinner whipping cream)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Bean Extract. On no account use any artificial vanillin or synthetic flavour.
Put the milk and sugar in a heavy based saucepan heating gently on the stove to dissolve the sugar. Stir regularly. Bring to a slow simmer, and go and read the paper, or write your blog, for anything up to 2 hours, or until the sweetened milk has reduced by half and has taken on a pale beige colour. Check it regularly and stir occasionally. Too hot a temperature and it will burn on the bottom, and too cool a stove means you will wait at least two hours! I timed it today, and on the slow ring of the Aga it took 1 hour 30 minutes.
Strain the condensed milk into a jug and put in the fridge to cool. When it is no longer warm you can finish the rest of the recipe.
Put the cream and Vanilla extract into a large bowl, and whip until you get decent soft peaks. Add the condensed milk and whip again until thick and creamy like a slighly soft Chantilly Cream. Put into a tupperware with a lid, and freeze.
Amazingly, this can be scoopable straight out of the freezer, or anyway very soon after taking it out. Try hard not to eat it until properly frozen, which may take 12 hours.