Usually, I am a lazy person when I make ice cream. That means no custard bases for me -- my ice creams have milk, cream and sugar, but never will you see an egg yolk in the ingredient list.
But when I thought about a traditional vanilla bean recipe, I realized that if I wanted the subtle, deep flavor that accompanies the best vanilla recipes, it needed to be a custard base.
And, even more importantly, it needed a really good vanilla bean. When I was contacted by Singing Dog Vanilla a month or two ago, I agreed to try their vanilla beans, not really knowing what quality they'd be. When they arrived, I was so impressed with the biodegradable packaging and the "Free Trade Plus" program they use for their farmers. But, as great a selling point as both of those are, they would have meant nothing if the beans hadn't been good.
And they weren't good -- they were amazing. Without hesitation, I will say that they were the best vanilla beans I've ever gotten my hands on, and I've bought them locally from spice importers in NYC, in bottles and packages in grocery stores, and tried them in cooking classes. These were so moist and fresh, and I got more seeds out of one bean than I usually do out of two -- I would have felt totally comfortable using half of one of these beans in the recipe, still guaranteeing strong vanilla flavor.
Which brings me to the exciting news: Two of you, lucky readers, can win a package of these vanilla beans I'm raving about! Just leave a comment to this post, and I'll pick two winners randomly next week. Hopefully you guys will love them as much as I do!
Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1/4 cup honey
Over low heat, mix the heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks, and heat, stirring frequently with a whisk, until the mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from the heat, and whisk in the milk, vanilla bean seeds and honey, stirring until combined. Process in an ice cream maker for 45 minutes, and then freeze overnight until the ice cream reaches the consistency you prefer.