Crème Fraîche-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I made a pint of crème fraîche the other day to serve with a rhubarb tart. The tart made it to a friend’s dinner party however, I left the crème fraîche in the fridge. I thought, what the heck I’m I going to do with all this deliciousness because of course the tart was long gone?

Then I remembered that my baking buddies were going to be testing pie recipes soon, so I re-purposed  the creamy goodness in this ice cream. I knew the tartness of the crème fraîche would cut some of the sweetness of the pies.

Also recently, I was reading an article (it may have been by David Lebovitz) that questioned the need to heat milk and then temper the eggs into the hot liquid. Why not just start with cool/cold milk and cold eggs.

Slowly heat them together until thickened.  Voila! you’re done. This method worked beautifully. I also poured the ice cream base in the bowl that had held the crème fraîche thereby saving me from having to wash at least two bowls.


1 plump vanilla bean, organic if possible
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, organic if possible
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
5 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for say…angel food cake)
2 cups (16 ounces) crème fraîche*

Prepare an ice bath and grab a fine mesh strainer.

Split the vanilla bean from end to end, open it up and scrap the seeds from the pod with the back of a paring knife. Place the seeds and pod in a medium saucepan along with the milk, sugar, and salt. Heat and stir just until the sugar melts. Remove from heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep until liquid is cool to the touch.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cooled steeped milk and return the mixture to medium heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. If using an instant read thermometer as a guide it should read no hotter than 170°F (any hotter and the threat of scrambled eggs increases dramatically).

Remove from heat and whisk in the crème fraîche. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir to cool over the ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  It can stand on it’s own or serve with your favorite fruit pie or tart.

*Crème Fraîche
1 pint heavy cream, pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk. Pour into a clean glass or non-reactive bowl.  Partially cover with a clean dishtowel and let stand at room temperature (between 65 and 75 degrees) for 8 to 24 hours, or until thickened.

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