Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Some things, once they find each other, seem like they always should have been together.  Unlikely and unalike as they may be habanero and vanilla bean are gonna meet and mingle, steep and churn into a sumptuously rich ice-cream with a kick of fiery heat.

habanero pepper and vanilla bean

Fragrant vanilla and stinging habanero burn hot, quench cold and love each other fiercely in this frosty dessert. Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is the result of an odd incident that happened this past holiday season involving a curiously chili-peppered wooden spoon and an afternoon of custard stirring.

habanero vanilla bean ice cream with spoon

I made a custard base for a simple vanilla bean ice cream when I was visiting some peeps. I grabbed a wooden spoon from a big jar on their kitchen counter and started coddling eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla bean into a thick custard. I even gave my ice cream base some extra steeping and thickening time while I stood over the saucepan steadily stirring.

And then I tasted it. Whoa…hot! And there were no peppers or pepper products in sight.

habanero vanilla bean close

Halfway through wallowing around in a mouthful of icy cold, vanilla goodness…BAM!…you got heat. It was like Emeril snuck up on you and whomped you in the noggin’ with a pack of peppers. My coddled, custard base dotted with sticky, fragrant Madagascar vanilla beans was on fire. So I  decided…may as well churn it and see what happens. It totally worked.The contrast of spicy fire and icy cold rocked.

I had to figure out how to make it again without the heat-givin’ wooden spoon. And it turns out that the solution is simple: throw a habanero into the custard while it’s thickening. I experimented and found that one half of a habanero pepper, seeded, worked for me. You can taste the base as it thickens and gains fire. Pluck the habanero out when you like the level of spicy spark.

Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream has a sneaky heat that builds and then falls away as rich vanilla quiets the burn. Just as this ice cream seems like it’s gonna fire up into one hot, ice cream disaster the cold comfort of vanilla-infused cream takes over and soothes, calms, sings. Makes you want another bite.

heart and arrow

Sometimes the indelible past mixes into a surprising and truly excellent result, huh?

Hot and cold compliment and define each other in this silky Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The brief, peppery heat highlights the cold creaminess and makes the richness of this dessert seem even more luxurious. It’s intriguing, unexpected and powerfully good.

Happy hot, cold and everything in between!

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2 Responses to Habanero Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

  1. Yes!! I love, love, LOVE a kick of heat in my ice cream… such a lovely way to confuse & delight my tongue. I think the fruitiness of the habanero would pair so nicely with vanilla and custard– as usual, you are a flavor genius.