I swear, this will be my last post about ice cream this year. Promise. But seriously, I think this one was my favorite yet, and that’s saying a lot after brown sugar and bitter caramel and dark chocolate mint. It also happened to be an ice cream made out of pure anger, and completely randomly. I know it sounds kind of odd, but I promise it’s delicious. I probably never would have found the recipe or tried it if I hadn’t had an unfortunate mishap with some lemon verbena ice cream that completely curdled. I thought I had tempering eggs down, but turns out, I didn’t. It was totally unusable, and after straining it twice without any good results, I had to throw it away. I had been preparing it since the day before, letting the verbena infuse in the milk and cream and I’d used up pretty much all of my eggs making what ended up being a verbena and cream omelette. Needless to say, I was mad.
Luckily, while whining about how I really wanted ice cream and how I really didn’t want to go to the store for more eggs, I magically came across this recipe on Epicurious. It’s definitely rich, but the genius part is that it requires no eggs whatsoever. There is no custard base to make, just tons of milk and crème fraîche or sour cream and heavy cream, which makes for a dreamy, creamy, melty texture. It also freezes in no time- definitely the quickest of all the ice cream recipes I’ve tried so far- and is basically ready to eat like soft serve in about 15 minutes in the ice cream maker. And all you have to do is combine all the ingredients and freeze away!
The only things I altered about this recipe were to replace the sour cream with crème fraîche. It’s just what I can find around here, but it’s also a tad bit milder than sour cream. In France, it’s often served as-is on top of fruit tarts, so I knew that it would be the perfect star of my no-cook ice cream. I also used quite a bit less than the recipe called for, about half as much, substituting the rest with half and half and heavy cream. I also substituted the small amount of vanilla extract the recipe called for with an entire vanilla bean. This was definitely a good call on my part. The result was the smoothest ice cream I’ve ever made, with just a hint of sourness, plenty of rich vanilla and not too sweet. It melts in your mouth and while I’ve been enjoying it all by itself, something tells me that this ice cream over fresh fruit or even better, a warm crisp, cobbler or tarte tatin, would be heavenly.
Crème fraîche and vanilla bean ice cream
Recipe adapted slightly from Gourmet
1 C sour cream or crème fraîche
1 C heavy cream
1 1/2 C half-and-half
3/4 C sugar
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
Whisk first five ingredients with 1/8 t salt in a large bowl until mixture is smooth and sugar has dissolved. It should be frothy and homogenous. Scrape the seeds out of your vanilla bean and add them to the mixture, whisking again to distribute evenly. The mixture should be very cold before going into the ice cream maker, so feel free to pop it in the fridge for an hour or so if it’s not cold enough. Make according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. I found that after about 15 minutes the ice cream was edible, with a texture somewhere around soft serve. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours longer for firmer ice cream.