In this age of convenience, with so many types of ice cream readily available, making homemade batches might sound as necessary as churning butter in your own kitchen. But ice cream can be made with surprisingly little effort, and the result is an incomparable treat. Preservative-free, the ice cream has a pure, unadulterated flavor that's similar to that of sweetened fresh cream. Unlike most mass-produced versions, homemade ice cream also has a deeply luxurious texture. It's voluminous and soft, able to envelop whatever delectable goodies you plan to tuck into it: ribbons of golden caramel, shards of dark chocolate, or chopped pieces of your favorite candy or fresh fruit.
Start with excellent ingredients. We prefer organic cream and free-range eggs, as their flavors tend to be superior. Plump vanilla beans (buy them in bulk and freeze them) are a must if you make vanilla ice cream. In most recipes, a simple custard cooked on the stove forms the base of the ice cream. Prepare this a few hours in advance, flip the machine on before dinner to do the churning, and you will have a perfect dessert.