Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Espresso

This is my long-standing, classic vanilla ice cream recipe, which I think is much improved of late, having incorporated a whole vanilla pod, with its speckly seeds, and crème fraîche, with its slightly acidic but very dairy flavour.

However, it’s also excellent if you replace the crème fraîche with double cream. I also love it made with untreated Jersey cream, which I get from my local farmers’ market. Home-made Scottish Butter Shortbread is good with this ice cream.

The Delia Online Cookery School: Watch how to make shortbread in our video. Just click the recipe image to play.

A picture of Delia's Complete How to Cook

This recipe is from Delia's Complete How to Cook. Serves 6

  • method
  • Ingredients


The ice cream in this recipe is made using an ice-cream maker. You can still make it by hand, if you prefer.

First of all, you need to make the custard, so begin by splitting the vanilla pod lengthways and, using the end of a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds into a mixing bowl.

Next, pour the single cream into a saucepan, add the pod and then carefully heat the cream up to just below boiling point. While that’s happening, place the vanilla seeds, egg yolks, custard powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until absolutely smooth. Next, pour the hot cream on to this mixture, discarding the pod, and whisking as you pour. Now return the custard to the pan and continue to whisk it over a medium heat until it has thickened and come up to boiling point again. (Ignore any curdled appearance, which may come about if you don’t keep whisking and have the heat too high. The custard powder will stabilise it if you pour it into a bowl and whisk, and it will become quite smooth.)

When the custard is ready, place the bowl in another, larger bowl of cold water, with a few ice cubes, stirring it now and then until it’s absolutely cold. Then fold the crème fraîche into the custard, pour the whole lot into the ice-cream maker and freeze-churn until the mixture is soft-set. If you prefer it set a little firmer, or you want to eat it later, freeze it in the plastic box for 1-2 hours until firm – but whenever you come to remove it from the freezer, transfer it to the fridge for 30 minutes to soften before serving. Then scoop it into heatproof glasses or serving bowls and pour some hot espresso over each one just before serving.


2 slightly rounded teaspoons custard powder
12 fl oz (340 ml) hot espresso coffee


You will also need an ice-cream maker (pre-frozen according to the manufacturer’s instructions); a lidded plastic box measuring 7 x 5½ x 2½ inches (18 x 14 x 6 cm); six heatproof glasses (or serving bowls); and a few ice cubes.

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