Let me tell you… this recipe could not have come along at a better time. We’ve had triple-digit heat in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past week, and I’ve been craving a milkshake! Truth be told, I’ve never made milkshakes before; in fact, I haven’t even had that many in my life. But every time I have one, I always think, “Why do I not have these more often?!” Maybe it’s the guilt of downing nearly a pint of ice cream in one fell swoop, but damn– sometimes you just need one. I didn’t own a blender until recently, and my impetus to buy one was –no joke– making this recipe for Malted Vanilla Milkshakes when I first thumbed through Baked Elements months ago. It just sounded SO yummy, and I hadn’t gotten around to trying it yet, so I was pleased to see it on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule for this scorching month of July!
I was initially going to buy a pint of really good-quality vanilla bean ice cream (such as Three Twins Ice Cream or Straus Creamery) and whip these up quick-style, but then I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to finally give my new ice cream maker a whirl too! I’ve also never made ice cream before, and I’m not too sure why I thought making vanilla ice cream would be difficult, but it was pretty quick and simple– I’m seeing more homemade ice cream in the near future…
When I got my ice cream machine, I bought a few ice cream “cookbooks”, one of which was Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, on the recommendation of a number of seasoned ice cream-making friends. Among the many creative and mouthwatering recipes that I couldn’t wait to try, I located her Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I love the story of how she came to import vanilla beans from a small family estate in Uganda, which she says are the best in the world; unfortunately I don’t have the option of obtaining these precious pods myself, though it got me thinking about vanilla beans. I was gifted some nice vanilla beans years ago that I’m still working my way through, and I’d never really taken the time to find out anything about them until now. (They’ve been in my pantry longer than I’d care to admit…) It turns out they’re made by a small family company called Rodelle, and they actually have a connection to Uganda! That’s almost the same, right?! I believe these are Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans (not of Ugandan origin), but it’s still a cool and random coincidence. Anyway, even after years of storage, the beans are plump and fragrant, and I was pretty delighted with my ice cream results. My favorite thing about this recipe is that you use the seeds of a full vanilla bean *and* put the whole bean pod in the ice cream base mixture, so the milk and cream soak up SO much luscious vanilla flavor. Anyone operating under the misguided and tragic notion that vanilla is “plain” or “boring” would realize after trying this ice cream that it’s quite the contrary; the complexity, depth, and aroma of good vanilla is unparalleled.
Incidentally, in addition to great stories about ingredients and sourcing, Jeni includes a chapter at the beginning of the book about ice cream science to explain how scientific and mathematic principles help make awesome ice cream. Ice cream science, people– I’m in baking nerd heaven!
One more ingredient note– Jeni uses tapioca syrup and starch in her recipes, rather than their corn-derived counterparts, but I couldn’t find them (even at Whole Foods!) on short notice, so I used corn syrup and cornstarch this time. The tapioca products yield a richer ice cream texture and prevent crystallization, and I would use those in the future personally.
Despite a number of bowls and spoons to wash, the ice cream base was a snap to make, and it whipped up into a creamy, smooth mixture in my machine. I also used this as a justifiable occasion to purchase a couple of insulated ice cream storage containers, because you know, every girl needs those.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Yields 1 quart ice cream
This ice cream is luscious, thick, and oh-so-creamy with a strong vanilla presence. The texture is firm and scoop-able, but not too hard. Use it to make your milkshakes amazing, or top it with your favorite ice cream accessories. Go forth.
- 2 cups whole milk, divided
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch or cornstarch
- 1 ½ ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)
- ⅛ fine sea salt
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons tapioca syrup or light corn syrup
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (reserve the pod)
Chill the bowl of an ice cream machine for 24 hours before you plan to make the ice cream. Do not take it out of the freezer until you are ready to start spinning your ice cream base.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of milk with the tapioca starch or cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. Mix the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Prepare an ice bath by filling a third, large bowl with ice and water (heavy on the ice).
Place the rest of the milk, the cream, sugar, tapioca/corn syrup, and vanilla seeds and pod in a 4-quart pot. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then boil for exactly 4 minutes.
Turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk/starch slurry. Turn the heat back to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil again. Cook until it thickens slightly, about 1 minute, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula; make sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. Turn off the heat.
Slowly stream the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese a little at a time, and whisk until smooth. Pour your ice cream base into a 1-gallon freezer bag, zip it closed, and immerse it in the ice bath. Let it stand for about 30 minutes, or until cooled.
Remove the bag, unseal, and take out the vanilla bean pod, which can now be discarded.
Take the frozen ice cream canister out of the freezer and place it on the machine. Pour the ice cream base into the bowl and spin it for about 15-20 minutes, or until thick and creamy. It will still be very soft at this point, and a bit grainy-looking.
Transfer the churned ice cream into a storage container and press a piece of parchment directly onto the surface. Seal it with an airtight lid and put it in the coldest area of the freezer overnight, or until firm.
Now back to my regularly scheduled milkshake-making…
After freezing the ice cream overnight, it was the perfect consistency for blending into milkshakes. The recipe calls for 2 ¼ - 2 ¾ cups ice cream; after the initial 2 ¼ cups, my blender mixture was pretty thin, so I added a couple more scoops. I ended up needing a total of about 4 cups ice cream to get a somewhat-thick shake, but this might have to do with the fact that homemade is softer than store-bought. Anyway, I was kinda bummed because I had to use my entire batch of vanilla bean ice cream, which (being the nerd that I am) I had wanted to “study” before eating it.
But that’s neither here nor there at this point; the malted vanilla milkshakes were magnificent and delicious! Because the vanilla in the ice cream was so potent, I was a little worried that adding the seeds from another vanilla bean to the blender mixture would be overpowering, but it was heavenly in all its vanilla splendor. I made sure to take out the malt powder just before adding it to the milk, because any time I leave it sitting out for more than like, 6 seconds, it hardens into clumps. (By the way, for more potent malt flavor, use Non-Diastatic Malt Powder, rather than its mellower sibling, Malted Milk Powder.) Chilling the glasses kept the shakes cold and thick– I appreciate that the recipe mentions this step. Lastly, although I *love* malt, I don’t care for malt ball candy, so I elected to crush some Oreos and sprinkle those on top instead of the prescribed Whoppers because, well, they make me happy.
I’m super excited to make more ice cream and experiment with all kinds of milkshake flavors. I actually almost threw a lemon cupcake into the blender to make “birthday cake” milkshakes, but the recipe specifically says to avoid fruit and mint flavors. Good point– lemon + malt = EW.
Anyway, do yourself a favor and whip up some of these malt-tastic vanilla shakes– they’re the perfect treat on a hot summer day! Whether or not you make your own ice cream, they are quick and easy to make. And if you don’t have a blender, I challenge you to find a better reason to get one!
You can find the recipe for Malted Vanilla Milkshakes at Baked Sunday Mornings, and check out my fellow shake-makers’ frosty treats while you’re at it!
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2013.