There are some things every woman should have – A real tool kit (no pink handles), a little black dress, and a go-to recipe for vanilla ice cream. Okay, honestly, that last one’s probably not a necessity and could inhibit the use of the second, but let’s just go with it.

My house standard used to be a variation Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s still a great choice, especially if you don’t have time to fuss with custard. But really, if you don’t have time to make the best ice cream you can, just go to the market and get a pretty good one.

When I started researching recipes to inspire my Chocolate-Coffee Ice Cream, all roads seemed to lead to David Lebovitz. (Thankfully, one lead through Simply Recipes, and it is now one of my favorite food blogs.) David’s infusion method and custard making are genius. I’m convinced his ice cream recipes are worth each one of the seventy-two bowls they require. (That’s a slight exaggeration.)

So, when I decided to make Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for a recent dinner party, I knew I’d struck gold (Seriously, check out that yolky-hue.) when there was one offered up on his blog. I’m a pretty slap-dab cook, so the fact that I carefully followed his instructions to the letter should tell you something. The recipe didn’t disappoint, not me, not my guests, and not my Mom’s famous Apple Betty atop which it was perched in slow-melting glory. Vanilla ice cream and warm apples make a very good case for the existence of a God who loves us.

I won’t reiterate the recipe here. I’m not going to mess with perfection. I will, however, share with you some tips I learned on the way to ice cream bliss.

-Use real cream, whole milk, real sugar, and the best vanilla beans (or coffee beans or chocolate or fruit) you can find and afford.
-A small scoop of the real deal is better than any amount of the substitutes.
-Fat, sugar, and alcohol don’t freeze, so the more of these you add, the softer your ice cream will be.
-The more water in the mix, the harder it will freeze. Chunks of fruit that are mostly water will freezer very hard.
-Always chill your batter overnight.
-If you have a machine that has a bowl that has to be frozen, store it in the freezer anytime you aren’t using it.
Quenelles just aren’t as appetizing as an old-fashioned, honest scoop.
-When using a scoop with no release lever, dip into ice cream with the scoop in your dominate hand and then place the palm of your non-dominate hand to the back of the scoop’s bowl. The ice cream will release perfectly in a few seconds thanks to body heat.
-Never get uptight about ice cream.
Arizona Vanilla has good vanilla and great customer service.
-Just because you haven’t seen a flavor at the grocery store doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing as an ice cream.
-Shallow containers really are best for freezing your ice cream.