I've been tweaking different recipes and I think I've put together the perfect vanilla bean ice cream recipe. It's rich and creamy and comes out perfect every time. You can use the batter as a base for other flavors as well by just omitting the vanilla bean. I'm still tweaking chocolate and strawberry but for now I do have a coffee variation. Warning: After trying this you won't be able to eat ice cream like Breyers or Dreyer's ever again.
I use the Cuisinart 2 quart ice cream maker (Williams-Sonoma is having a great sale right now). You need an actual vanilla bean to make this...don't omit it! The vanilla bean adds a ton of exotic vanilla flavor. Your best bet is to buy them from a site like Penzey's (thanks squid!). If you buy them at the grocery store you'll pay two or three times what you will buying online in bulk.
Perfect Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 2/3 cups milk
two vanilla beans
8 egg yolks
3 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine sugars and milk in a medium saucepan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use a blunt knife to scrape out the seeds and stir them and the vanilla bean into the milk/sugar mixture. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the vanilla bean.
Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Gradually stir in about one cup of the hot liquid to temper the egg yolk and then slowly add the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat stirring constantly until thickened and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it come to a boil or else you'll have scrambled eggs. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool a bit. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Mix in the heavy whipping cream and the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into your ice cream machine and leave it mixing for about 30 minutes. Transfer the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.
Coffee Ice Cream Variation
Omit the vanilla bean. Mix the sugars and milk over medium heat with 6 tablespoons of instant espresso coffee, I use Medaglia D'oro that I found at the grocery store. 6 tablespoons will make a very strong coffee flavor so if you're not sure you'll like that you may want to try 4 tablespoons instead.