Simple Yet Elegant

I told you I’d elaborate on the ice cream I made to go with my birthday cake, didn’t I?

Well, frozen custard, actually.
Well, frozen custard, actually.

Yes, it has vanilla beans in it. But this is no ordinary vanilla ice cream. To start, it’s a custard-based ice cream, which is really the best way to make vanilla ice cream anyway what with the infusing and the richness and such.

Different background!
Different background!

This ice cream is extra special because I also infused some star anise in with the vanilla bean. Because both go so wonderfully with quince, you see. It’s barely perceptible but definitely helps to bring out the natural sweetness in the vanilla.

Not that something made with half a cup of sugar and paired with cake needs help in the sweetness department, but, you know. Complementary flavors and all that.

Tastes much more interesting than it looks!
Tastes much more interesting than it looks!

This stuff is even more special because it thickened up like crazy (perhaps because it is such a simple recipe) and basically became a frozen custard. Thick, creamy, barely-frozen (though that may just be because I’m a bit heavy-handed with the booze) – and also very obviously so not good for you.

But, it was for my birthday, and I didn’t care. As one shouldn’t on one’s birthday.

It's a little melty and shiny from the warmed quince jelly I drizzled on it.
It's a little melty and shiny from the warmed quince jelly I drizzled on it.

Vanilla Bean-Star Anise Frozen Custard

  1. 1/2 cup sugar
  2. 1 small vanilla bean
  3. 2/3 cup heavy cream
  4. 2/3 cup milk
  5. 1 small star anise
  6. 2 egg yolks
  7. Tiny pinch of fine salt
  8. 2-3 tsp vodka (can be vanilla flavored)

Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sugar. Once the pod is well-scraped, rub the seeds into the sugar with your fingers, until all clumps are broken up and the sugar is fragrant. Add the cream, milk, vanilla pod and star anise. Bring to a low boil, stirring gently, just to dissolve the sugar. Immediately remove from heat and cover. Let steep up to 20 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and salt. Remove the pod and anise from the cream mixture and add 1/4 cup to the yolks, whisking it in. Keep whisking and pour in the rest of the hot cream, keeping a thin stream running into the bowl as you whisk. Once the cream is incorporated and the mixture is frothy, return it to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened and able to coat the back of a spoon. Strain into a medium-sized freezable bowl, stir in the vodka and allow to come to room temperature. Cover and freeze for 2 hours. Stir with a sturdy spoon every hour after that, scraping the sides thoroughly and breaking down any chunks of frozen custard. Once it resembles runny soft serve and forms thick ribbons when dripped from the spoon, you could stir in some poached quince. Or, just freeze until scoopable, slightly warm some quince jelly until it forms a sauce, and combine for total awesomeness.


  1. A very fitting birthday ice cream indeed! Sounds wonderful. And, no offense to Philadelphia, but I only make custard-based ice creams. So there. :)

    Hope you had a Marvelous Birthday!

  2. Ahh, frozen custard! I still remember my first taste of it when I was visiting friends in Milwaukee. Super rich — in the best of ways, of course. I can’t say I ever saw any star anise version in Milwaukee, though. ;)

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