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so obvious

March 21 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Dessert,Recipe » 22 comments


One lone vanilla bean, cased in a stopper-ed glass test tube, has been stashed in the corner of my baking cupboard for weeks.  Months, maybe.  You’d think it was a bottle of Dom Perignon, on reserve for a special occasion, or my last few nickels, horded away just in case, the way I’ve been holding on to it.  Across the kitchen, in another cupboard, a less-than-half-full bottle of bourbon has sat sadly unsipped for long enough to gather a thin cloak of dust.  And, between the two, in the depths of my freezer, the frost-bitten bowl of my ice cream maker waited patiently, killing time by serving as a kind of ice bucket for a bottle of vodka.


Now, these three things—the vanilla bean, the bourbon and the ice cream maker—might seem unconnected.  And, if you’d asked me last Thursday, I’d say the same thing.  But, on Friday I discovered the thread that runs between the three and, well, I’m a changed woman.


Last Friday, at the end of a meal at Hot Chocolate, our waiter placed before me a tiny glass dish holding a golf-ball sized scoop of ice cream.  The plate also held a molasses cookie no larger than a silver dollar, wonderfully spicy and bendy.


The ice cream was Whiskey Ice Cream and it is every bit as good as it sounds and then some.  As it melts on your tongue, the first boozy jolt makes you sit up a bit straighter, but then the richness has you immediately sinking back into your chair, probably emitting some variation of: mmmmm.

I woke up the next morning still thinking about that whiskey ice cream.  So, I did the only sensible thing.  I poured myself a cup of coffee, plopped down in front of my computer, poked around the Internet for approximately five minutes before finding The Perfect Recipe and got to work.


I slid that vanilla bean out of its glass case, split it lengthwise and scraped it of its seeds.  I removed the bourbon from the cupboard, immediately uncorked the bottle and took a whiff.  Oh, yes, it would do.  These two things went into an ice cream base—all milk and cream, eggs and sugar—and, after it had chilled, into the ice cream maker bowl I’d unearthed from the freezer.


The mixture churned away, noisily, and I impatiently waited.  Once it was done—dappled with vanilla beans, lusciously creamy—I had a bite.  And another.  And, well, who’s counting.  With the advantage of hindsight (and the advantage of those bites of ice cream) the connection between those three things—the vanilla bean, the bourbon and the ice cream maker—seems so obvious.

The recipe for Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is from Serious Eats.  You can find the recipe here.

22 comments so far. »
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  1. Mariana says on March 21 2009 at 7:22 am:

    Mmm, have you tried the Salted Butter Caramel ice cream from Hot Chocolate? Now that’ll make your knees go weak…

    (I just found your blog a couple weeks ago — it’s funny because my older sister also is a lawyer in Chicago!)

  2. Whitney Merritt says on March 21 2009 at 8:18 am:

    I LOVE Hot Chocolate. Their Chai Tea is to die for with brunch.

    What else did you get?

    I think my next purchase is going to have to be an ice cream maker. Which one do you have? I am tempted by the KitchenAid Attachment one but I haven’t really heard if people like it.

  3. noble pig says on March 21 2009 at 8:24 am:

    I had never made ice cream with alcohol, wondering always if it would freeze properly.

    Loooks as if I am no longer wondering.

  4. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on March 21 2009 at 9:37 am:

    Mariana: Funny you should ask! Check this out.

    Whitney: Me too! I had the winter panzanella, which I will be sad to see go, and arctic char (which came with pickled leeks (so good) and some lentils, I think).

    I have a freestanding Cuisinart ice cream maker. The basic, no bells-and-whistles version. I really like it. I’ve been wondering about that KA attachment too, but haven’t tried it myself.

    noble pig: I actually think alcohol really helps a batch of homemade ice cream. I often find that homemade ice cream gets a bit icy after a couple days. The alcohol keeps it creamy. I hope you give this a try!

  5. LilSis says on March 21 2009 at 10:01 am:

    Oh, yummy! Now I’m wishing that I hadn’t given away our ice cream maker! I guess that’s something else to add to my “wish list”. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Monica H says on March 21 2009 at 10:38 am:

    Ooh, I love bourbon and vanilla ice cream. So much in fact that when the holidays or a holiday brunch roll around we always make Milk Punch. Which is a half gallon of melted vanilla bean ice cream, bourbon, milk and more alcohol…YUM!

  7. jennifer says on March 21 2009 at 11:55 am:

    i want a scoop! looks absolutely delicious! i love the photos too.

  8. MommyAmy says on March 21 2009 at 1:24 pm:

    Ok, I seriously need to get an ice cream maker! I too have some vanilla beans in my cupboard that are crying out my name.

  9. Amy says on March 21 2009 at 1:54 pm:

    Man, what a perfect antidote to March doldrums. Though it’s been in the 50′s and sunny here lately, so that positively calls for some ice cream, don’t you think? This looks amazing, Kristin! :)

  10. Kate says on March 21 2009 at 3:03 pm:

    Be still my beating heart. There are few things I love more than desserts that taste like booze (maybe it’s the lawyer in me). And this may just be worth getting my ice cream maker off that high high shelf where it’s gathering dust. (Or maybe I’ll play around and make creme brulee instead). I think there are a lot of possibilities for this — Irish whiskey would give it a great Baileys flavor, or some smoky scotch could be really interesting.

  11. holler says on March 21 2009 at 3:20 pm:

    What a great idea! I am craving some of this ice cream now, although I think I will hold out on making ice cream until the weather improves here.

  12. Farmer Gal says on March 21 2009 at 7:09 pm:

    Yuh-um! I totally need to get an ice cream maker. Then my love affair with dairy would be complete. ;)

  13. Jennifer says on March 22 2009 at 3:50 am:

    vanilla bean ice cream is by far my favorite!! yum!! :D

  14. anya says on March 22 2009 at 4:06 am:

    My, my my! I am in danger, that is, I’m going to get an ice cream maker, lock myself in my apartment, and savour each bite of this goodness all by myself. :) Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Bri says on March 22 2009 at 8:25 am:

    Love your website Kristin! Long time lurker first time commenter. Your ice cream looks fantastic. I may just have to go make some for breakfast…

    After I bought an ice cream maker last summer, the first thing I did was buy vanilla beans in bulk. Instead of continuing to plunk down $20 for each bean and guard it like the crown jewels, I went to http://www.saffron.com and bought a whole pound for $20. They’re lovely and as a bonus I had enough to share with friends!

    (I promise I don’t work for saffron.com, I just want to share the vanilla bean wealth.)


  16. coneslayer says on March 22 2009 at 3:06 pm:

    You gotta make it again when peaches are in season… trust me.

  17. Mandy says on March 22 2009 at 7:05 pm:

    looking at your ice cream makes me miss my ice cream maker I left at home. I want a scoop of the bourbon vanilla bean ice cream now! :)

  18. Mandie Griffin says on March 22 2009 at 7:52 pm:

    OMG, I can not wait to make this ice cream! My only problem? No liquor sales on Sunday!

    We bought the Cuisinart ice cream maker last year. However, I bought the 2qt one at Sam’s Club v. the smaller one that I had seen advertised everywhere else (both at the same price, too). We always have extra servings that way!

  19. greenbird says on March 22 2009 at 10:51 pm:

    I stumbled across your blog today, and I must say–I love it! you’ve inspired me(as an avid home-chef and foodie) to try several of your recipes, and maybe even start a food blog of my own :)

  20. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on March 23 2009 at 8:38 am:

    who- what a great idea! Looks good too!

  21. ingrid says on March 23 2009 at 8:50 am:

    Mmmmmm, sounds & looks yummy. I just purchased cookbook, The Perfect Scoop and finished up reading through it so there wil be lots of homemade ice cream making at my house.

  22. Phoo-D says on March 27 2009 at 10:48 am:

    This sounds awesome. We are both big fans of ice cream and bourbon. I’ve made a bourbon pecan ice cream before but the vanilla bean would be a great twist!

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