Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

Though it's not quite officially summer, Mother Nature is trying to prove herself a little early with ninety degree temps and a barely tolerable humidity levels. On days like these, I believe there's nothing better than a decadent bowl of ice cream. So when my brother and I were trying to decide what to do for Fathers' Day, I seemed like a no-brainer to make homemade ice cream! But what flavor?!

A few weeks ago, a friend brought me a quart-sized storage bag filled to the brim with whole vanilla beans from his mom...for free! So naturally, my first thought was to make vanilla bean ice cream. But then I started thinking...like I do! I wanted to serve the ice cream with some fresh fruit from the market, and peaches just happen to be in season. Since we were planning to have a cookout, the idea of grilled peaches seemed brilliant! I'm also very interested in using alternatives to refined white sugar, and I just happen to have a fair amount of local honey in the pantry.

So I Googled. I found a recipe for Honey Vanilla Ice Cream that sounded absolutely amazing and would work very well with grilled peaches! After reading some of the reviews for the ice cream recipe, I decided to make a few changes, and it turned out to be some of the best ice cream I've ever eaten!

Here's the recipe:

(makes 1.5 quarts)
2 c milk
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c honey
1/4 t Kosher salt
2 c heavy cream

With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise.

In a medium pan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to simmering, whisking occasionally to keep the milk from scalding. Do not boil.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, honey, and salt until light colored and frothy. While whisking constantly, very slowly combine the hot milk with the egg mixture. (You really will want to do this *very* slowly so you don't scramble the eggs! This is the part of making ice cream that requires patience!)

Once the milk and egg mixtures are combined, transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. (Again, do not boil the mixture!) Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean from the mixture and scrape the beans into the milk mixture.

Strain custard into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer, and stir in the heavy cream.

Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. (Putting the plastic wrap directly on top of the custard will prevent a film from forming on the top.)

Once the custard is cold, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

To grill peaches: Halve the peaches, removing the pit. Lightly sprinkle Kosher salt on the cut side of each half and place cut side down on a hot grill. Let the peaches hang out on the grill for 5-7 minutes. (Don't move them!) When the peaches have softened slightly and have a few good char marks on them, gently remove them from the grill. Serve warm.

Mangia Bene!

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