Basic Vanilla Bean Base

(courtesy of Lara Ritchie, of Nothing To It Culinary Center in Reno. Makes 1 generous quart)

2 cups whole milk, chilled

1 vanilla bean

6 large egg yolks, cold

¾ cup sugar

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Using a small, sharp knife, cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod and place the seeds and bean into a medium saucepan. Add the milk, and bring the milk and vanilla bean mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.

Return the pan to the heat and bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a metal bowl, whisk the sugar, salt, and yolks together. Gradually add the hot milk to the bowl, whisking it constantly. Return the mixture to the same saucepan, and place over medium-low heat. Cook slowly until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of a spoon. Be careful not to boil this mixture.

Remove custard and slowly mix in the cream. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a clean bowl. Refrigerate until cold, about one hour. Then transfer to ice cream maker and proceed per the manufacturer's instructions. Cover and freeze mixture until firm, then serve. This will keep for up to three days in the freezer.

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