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So, if you know me at all… you know that I am obsessed with ice  cream!  The infatuation began years ago after discovering Jeni’s Ice cream.  They have such flavors as: Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs, Wildberry Lavender (a personal favorite), Reisling Poached Pear, Bangkok Peanut, and Queen City Cayenne… Just to name a few!  I was totally inspired to start painting my own creamy canvas with abstract and modern flavors!  I have experimented with: Cucumber Mint, Avocado, Thai Tea, Curried Carrot, Balsamic Pear, Coconut Cardamom, Lavender Blueberry, Rosewater Rasberry, Amaretto Poached Pear, Coffee, Coconut Saffron and more!  So, this may be the first ice cream recipe to hit the blog… but don’t expect it to be the last!

Anytime a recipe calls for vanilla bean, I automatically think, “Is it worth it?”  Vanilla bean is expensive!  The going rate is about $14.00 for 2 pods!  If you are making vanilla ice cream for the kids, skip the vanilla bean and just use extract.  But if this ice cream is gonna be the life of the party, don’t hesitate to use it!  Make sure that you scrape as much as you can out of each pod to maximize your money!  There is just nothing like real vanilla bean.  It adds such a different character to your recipes, so savor it!  Once you’ve scraped the pods of their glorious beans, stick the pod into an airtight canister of sugar.  Voila, vanilla sugar!  Use it for all its worth!

Chai Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise)

8 egg yolks

1 chai tea bag (or 1 tbsp loose leaf if you have it)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the beans.  (This stuff is like black gold)  In a saucepan, add the milk and 1 cup of the heavy cream.  Add the vanilla beans, (and the pod) the chai tea bag, (or loose leaf) and salt.  Heat the milk and cream mixture to just before boiling.  Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for up to an hour.

Mix the yolks with the sugar till they become a little lighter in color.  Create an ice bath* (large bowl filled with ice and cold water with a slightly smaller bowl set on top the ice) to chill the remaining cream.

Remove the tea bag (strain if you used loose leaf) and bean pods.  Reheat the milk and cream mixture and slowly add a little at a time to the yolks, while whisking, to temper*.  Once all the yolks are incorporated return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring.  The custard will begin to thicken.  When it coats the back of the spoon, its done.  Pout the custard through a sieve into the chilled cream, in the ice bath.  Add the vanilla.  Chill the custard then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions!

Don’t have an ice cream maker?  pour the cooled custard into a ziplock bag.  Fill a larger ziplock bag with ice and put the custard filled bag inside.  (Make sure its sealed tight!)  Shake this baby around, or toss back and forth with a partner or two.  Time flies when your having fun, and you’ll have ice cream in no time!

ice bath*-Submerging a pan of warm food into another, larger, pan that is filled with ice and water.  Used to rapidly cool the food, and stops the cooking process.

temper*-In tempering eggs, you add a small amount of a hot liquid into relatively cooler eggs in order to warm them up without scrambling them.  This method is used in making custards, egg-based sauces, and other foods where eggs are used to thicken a hot liquid.  If you simply dumped the eggs into the hot liquid, the heat would transfer immediately to the eggs causing them to scramble.  To avoid this, the liquid is removed from the heat and a small amount is poured slowly into the beaten eggs while they are whisked.