Vanilla ice cream fans are purists. This recipe delivers. The seeds are scraped out of three whole vanilla beans, and the pods are then added as well for luxurious, powerful vanilla flavor. Cook’s Note: For an easy, short-cut version (for more or less “ordinary” vanilla ice cream), see our basic recipe(s) listed on this site under “4 Ice Cream Bases.”

2 cups, heavy cream
1 cup, whole milk
3/4 cup, sugar
1/8 teaspoon, salt
3 vanilla beans – halved lengthwise
2 large eggsSpecial Equipment: an instant-read thermometer, an ice cream maker

In a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt. With tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the halved vanilla beans into the cream mixture, then drop in the vanilla pods. Bring the mixture just to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the hot cream mixture to the eggs in a slow stream, whisking constantly, then pour the entire mixture into a saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and registers 170 – 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer; do not allow the mixture to boil. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean metal bowl; discard the vanilla pods.

Cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate it, covered, until very cold – at least 3 hours. Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and put it in the freezer to harden.

If you can’t find vanilla beans (or wish to take this shortcut), add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the custard, just before chilling it.

The custard can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours

The ice cream can be made up to 1 week ahead, and packed airtight in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl (Houghton Mifflin)