The Scoop on Scoops

Since it’s July that means summer and birthdays around my house.  I always look forward to some warm days when I can get out the ice cream maker to make our own homemade ice cream.  In the past all my kids wanted to make is mint chip. (see past recipe).  I can’t blame them.  There is nothing like real mint ice cream.  However we need to venture out and for my daughter’s birthday we made a classic vanilla bean.  This was super easy and a bit hit.  My son liked it so much I’m making it again this week to put between homemade chocolate cookies for ice cream sandwiches.  Stay tuned for his birthday post coming next.


Anyways…summer is also a time my kids and I like to explore new ice cream flavors around town.  We have our local favorites, but it’s fun to venture out and discover new ones too.  This past weekend we were fishing (nope didn’t catch a thing) in Faixfax’s Bon Tempe Lake.  The thing that got us through the fishing and hiking was knowing we were going to Scoop in Fairfax on the way home.  This place is the real deal.  It’s located downtown at 63 Broadway (no website) About one dozen flavors hand made with local ingredients with classic (chocolate, strawberry) and unique flavors (mexican chocolate and vanilla honey lavender).  Plus homemade waffle cones and bowls.  They think of everyone too.  Fruit sorbets and soy ice cream for vegans and lactose intolerant.  Gluten free cone options.  This place is the best and least expensive scoop around.  They could charge  twice the amount, but they don’t.  They want to keep people coming and they’ve built a real community of suppliers and customers since it’s opening 10 years ago.  My son and I tried the control burn.  Wow!  Vanilla with cinnamon and chilies.  This was certainly a burn on the aftertaste.  We left that to the real men in the line and he went for the milder mexican chocolate (also with chilies, but not as hot) and soy mint for me.


So we haven’t gotten as adventurous at home.  However we’ve been making this wonderful and simple vanilla bean ice cream recipe for the birthdays.  I found it on the Joy of Baking site.  It’s easy and only has 5 ingredients!  I’ll be using this as a base for some more creative flavors of our own.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Ice Cream: In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the half-and-half and the vanilla bean (if using) to the scalding point (the milk begins to foam up). Remove from heat, take out the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from the bean with the back of a knife, and mix the seeds back into the half-and-half.

Meanwhile in a stainless steel bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy (about two minutes). You can do this with a wire whisk or I like to use a hand mixer. Gradually pour the scalding half-and-half into the whipped egg yolk mixture, making sure you keep whisking constantly so the eggs don’t curdle. If any lumps do form, strain the mixture first before heating.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the custard thickens enough that it coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees F) (77 degrees C). The term ‘coat a spoon’ is a technique used mainly as a way to test when an egg-based custard or sauce is done. A spoon, usually wooden, is placed in the custard and, when the spoon is raised, the film of custard on the back of the spoon will stay in place even when you draw a line with your finger through the middle of the custard. 

Immediately remove the custard from the heat and continue to stir the custard for a few minutes so it does not overcook. At this point stir in thevanilla extract, if using. Cover and let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate the custard until it is completely cold (several hours but preferably overnight). 

Transfer the cold custard to the chilled container of your ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once made, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container and store in the freezer. If the ice cream becomes too hard place in the refrigerator until softened.

Makes about 3 cups. Preparation time 40 minutes.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe:

2 cups (480 ml) half-and-half

5 large (90 grams) egg yolks

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Note:  Half and Half cream is a mixture of cream and whole milk and contains 10 – 12% butterfat.