Nothing plain about vanilla ice cream

by Mary Bailey

Funny how vanilla ice cream got its rep as ho hum when it’s made with one of the world’s most expensive and rare ingredients.

I spent a few hours with chef Chael MacDonald at Kind Ice Cream to watch how they make their vanilla ice cream.

The custard base is made with eggs, cream, milk and sugar. That’s it. No artificial emulsifiers, no stabilizers, no gums. The vegan (non-dairy, no eggs) is made with cashew and coconut milks plus cocoa butter and coconut oil. They use several sous vide machines to cook the custard, ensuring that it cooks evenly and quickly.

“If we didn’t do it this way we would have to use a steam kettle, expensive and not as fool proof,” says Chael.

The vanilla recipe uses both vanilla paste (Madagascar and Tahitian) and a natural Madagascar vanilla extract. After the paste and extract are added to the base it’s poured into the batch freezer, a heavy-duty, sturdy looking floor unit which churns 22 litres at a time. It’s built to run every all day every day. This summer the machine was running eight to 10 hours (with breaks for cleaning and sanitizing). The chamber inside the freezer rotates quite slowly actually which means less air in the finished product (called low flow). The vanilla custard base will take about 15 minutes in the freezer, then at least six hours or overnight in the blast chiller. The ice creams then find their way to the dipping cabinet (short term) or the hardening cabinet.

If you ever thought working in an ice cream parlour would be sweet, you are right. Each staffer is able to take two pints home every week.