“I scream, you scream, we all…” Well, I certainly scream for ice cream, especially cinnamon ice cream!
Where’s the Cinnamon Ice Cream?
Given my love for cinnamon, I am quite troubled, to say the least, that it is an extraordinarily rare occasion to find cinnamon ice cream in the freezer section of just about any supermarket. So, I say, forget the supermarkets! We should all be making our own cinnamon ice cream at home. I cannot imagine a supermarket ice cream tasting nearly as good as homemade anyway!
Years ago, I discovered a cinnamon ice cream recipe on the Food Network’s website. I always loved the base of that ice cream recipe — the texture, the creaminess… I have used the base (eggs, sugar, milk and cream) in many other ice cream recipes. But, that particular recipe was never cinnamony (yeah, I’m making that a word) enough for me.
So, over the years, I have developed this recipe to — quite literally — spice it up!
This ice cream freezes to a beautiful consistency and is great on its own, topping a sensible pie or cake, or sandwiched in between your favorite cookies.
How to Make Cinnamon Ice Cream
Making ice cream is actually quite simple and does not require much active time. Here are a few tips to follow when making ice cream:
Prep your ingredients
Most importantly, separate your eggs. (Save the whites for an omelet or another sensible pastry product like meringues, a chiffon cake, an angel food cake…) While you can use vanilla paste or extract, I prefer using an actual vanilla bean. The visual of the vanilla seeds and the pure flavor cannot be beat! If you have never used a vanilla bean before, do not be scared of it! With a paring knife, simply slice it down the middle lengthwise, scrape both sides with the back of your knife, and throw all those yummy seeds together with the entire split bean (also called a pod) into the saucepan.
Whisk the yolks with half the sugar
I usually get this started before I heat up the liquid ingredients to get a head start on it. This can be a bit of a workout, but it is an essential step to a creamy ice cream! You want to whisk the yolk/sugar mixture until it is thick and pale yellow in color and forms a ribbon when dripped on itself. (Nerd alert: We use part of the sugar here because it helps strengthen the proteins in the yolks to hold small air pockets that result in a creamy ice cream.) If you’re feeling lazy, you can always let the mixer do this work.
Whisk the liquid with eggs
You need to whisk the heated liquid mixture into your beaten egg/sugar mixture. To do this, it is imperative that you continuously whisk the egg/sugar mixture from the time that the first drop of the heated liquid ingredients come into contact with the egg/sugar mixture. (Or else you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!) This step is probably easiest with another set of hands to hold the bowl of the thick yolk/sugar mixture. If no one else is around (no one ever is when I make ice cream), place your yolk/sugar mixture bowl on a rubber mat, or wet a dishtowel and wrap it around the base of the bowl so that it does not move while you whisk. (Swaddle that baby!)
Heat to 185°F
Once you got the eggs added to the hot milk, return the whole she-bang to the pot, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula until the temperature reaches 185°F. Yes, many recipes tell you that you should heat until a line holds on the back of the spoon. However, the only way to be certain that the custard is fully cooked is to take its temperature. It usually only takes a minute or two to reach the desired temperature. I highly recommend this thermometer from ThermoWorks (pictured above). I literally use it to take the temperature of anything I make, from ice cream to breads to tempering chocolate.
Strain and chill
It’s always a good idea to strain the mixture just in case a little of the egg started to scramble. You will also catch the cinnamon sticks and the vanilla bean pod for easy removal. It’s best to do this over an ice bath so that the mixture cools down quickly (usually takes about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes) so you can get it into the refrigerator. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. (I usually let it sit overnight and churn it in the morning.)
While you could go right ahead and churn it in your ice cream machine once it is at room temperature, it’s best to let it chill in the refrigerator so that the cinnamon flavor has time to develop. I also find that, with home ice cream makers, the base churns better when it is refrigerator cold as opposed to a room temperature. (My ice cream maker is the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment, which has been great. I am currently saving up though for this Cuisinart ice cream maker though only because it does not require pre-freezing the mixing container.*)
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Cinnamon Stick Ice Cream
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp. vanilla)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 550 g. whole milk (2 cups plus 2 tbsp.)
- 255 g. heavy cream (1 cup plus 1 tbsp.)
- 200 g. sugar, divided (1 cup)
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- Fill a large bowl half way with ice. Pour cold water over the ice so that the bowl is no more than ⅔ high. Place a clean bowl on top of the water bath. Place a strainer over the empty bowl.
- If using a vanilla bean, slice it with a paring knife down the middle lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with the back of your knife. Place the pod and the seeds into a 2 or 3 quart saucepan. (If you are using vanilla bean paste or vanilla, add whichever you are using to the saucepan instead.) Add the cinnamon sticks, milk, cream and half the sugar. (You can eyeball half the sugar.) Over low to medium heat, stir the mixture occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves. Heat to a simmer.
- While the liquid heats up, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar. You want to whisk it until the mixture turns pale yellow, becomes thick, and forms a ribbon when dripped on itself. (You can use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment if you are feeling lazy.)
- Once the liquid mixture comes to a simmer, turn the heat off and let it sit for a minute or two. With the bowl holding the egg/sugar mixture secure on the counter (if no one is around to hold it, place it on a rubber mat or wet a dishtowel and wrap it around the base of the bowl), slowly pour the heated liquid mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Once fully incorporated, pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan. Over a medium-low heat, stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until it reaches 185°F or a line holds when you drag your finger across the back of the wooden spoon. (It should only take a minute or two to reach the correct temperature.)
- Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the cooked mixture through the strainer into the empty bowl sitting in the ice water bath. Lift strainer and discard the cinnamon sticks. (You can rinse off the vanilla bean in cold water and let it air dry completely for at least 24 hours. Save it for later use, such as to make vanilla sugar.) Stir in the ground cinnamon. It will not fully incorporate, but you want to mix it in enough to hydrate it. Stir the mixture as it sits in the ice bath every 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture has completely cooled. This usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Pour into a container. Cover with plastic wrap directly over (touching) the mixture. Cover and place in refrigerator for 4-24 hours.
- Follow your ice cream manufacturer’s directions to churn the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer container. Cover with a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface. Cover container and freeze.