Now this is one recipe where I would never replace the vanilla bean with vanilla extract. Those little black specks from the vanilla bean seeds are a sign of quality, and of course the flavour is also superior.

1 litre





Skill level

Average: 2.5 (2 votes)


  • 400 ml milk
  • 400 ml pouring cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 160 g caster sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time 30 minutes

You will also need an ice-cream machine and a sugar thermometer.

Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan and heat until simmering.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 2 minutes or until pale and creamy. While continuing to whisk, add the hot milk mixture, then pour the custard back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard reaches 79°C and is slightly thickened. Immediately pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, then chill the custard in
the refrigerator or over ice, stirring regularly until cold.

Churn the custard in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.



Burnt honey ice-cream: Replace 50 g caster sugar with 100 g burnt honey. To burn the honey, place it in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook for a few minutes until it turns a very dark golden colour. Immediately add the hot milk and cream to the pan (be careful as it will bubble and steam), then add the vanilla bean and bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue with the recipe.

Cherry ice-cream: Drain and finely chop 100 g glace cherries or cherries in liqueur and add to the chilled custard before churning.

Cinnamon ice-cream: Add 2 cinnamon sticks to the milk and cream mixture while heating, then set aside for 5 minutes once the mixture has come to a simmer. Proceed with the recipe, but remember to remove the sticks when
straining the custard.

Coconut ice-cream: Toast 90 g desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan until golden then transfer it immediately to a tray to cool. Add this to the chilled custard before churning.

Coffee ice-cream: Add 40 g roughly chopped coffee beans to the hot cream and milk, then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the beans, and continue with the recipe.


Sweet by Alison Thompson, with photographs by Sharyn Cairns (Penguin Books Australia, $49.99, hbk)