Mr. Softee-Style Vanilla Bean Soft-Serve Recipe

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

Let your ice cream thaw to the point of melting before serving; the gelatin will keep it from turning into soup.

Tahitian vanilla beans are especially light and fragrant—perfect for this ice cream. But you'll still get great flavor and texture with another vanilla bean variety or vanilla extract.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 5 hrs
Makes: 1 quart

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  • 3 1/2 cups half and half, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split and scraped (see note)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Scotch whisky


  1. Pour about 1/4 cup half and half in one small bowl and 2 tablespoons in another. Use a fork to whisk cornstarch into the first bowl until no lumps remain, and sprinkle gelatin in second bowl. Add remaining half and half to a saucepan along with vanilla bean, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat, cover, and let steep for one hour.

  2. Remove vanilla bean (reserving for another use) and whisk in cornstarch slurry. Heat dairy on medium heat, whisking frequently, until a custard forms and a swiped finger leaves a clean line. Turn off heat, taste for seasoning, then stir in Scotch and gelatin mixture. Whisk until gelatin fully dissolves. Transfer to an airtight container to chill, four hours to overnight. The custard will set into a wobbly gel.

  3. Churn in an ice cream maker until ice cream has the texture of soft serve and is not at all runny. Eat immediately, or chill in freezer in an airtight container. To regain soft serve texture, let ice cream thaw to the verge of melting after freezing.

Special equipment

ice cream machine

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