Vanilla gets a bit of a bad rap, people. By bad rap, I mean that folks are very quick to write off vanilla as boring, or passe, or you know. Vanilla.

This is a national holiday that I kind of love, though. Vanilla ice cream is worth a celebratory nod, because it is anything but boring. Nuanced, floral, subtle, a classic. And the base of at least three other things I am making this week, much of which I will be gleefully posting!

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Classic French Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. dark rum (optional, but tastes great)

Place the milk, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium pot. Place the pot over medium-low heat and stir with a rubber spatula to combine and dissolve. Bring the mixture just up to a scald. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the cream into a medium bowl and set over an ice bath.

Bring the milk back up to a scald. Whisk the milk into the egg yolks, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Return the milk/egg mixture to the stove. Over medium heat, cook the mixture (stirring constantly) until it coats the back of your rubber spatula.

Strain the milk mixture over the cream and stir to combine. Pick out the vanilla bean and stick it back in the mixture. Chill the ice cream base for at least four hours before churning.

A word to the wise- this is NOT the ice cream you want to over-churn! There is a whole bunch of rich, delicious milk fat in this recipe, which if you spin for too long will turn into a sweet, vanilla-flecked butter. Which will put a damper on National Vanilla Ice Cream Day.