Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams. Get the recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream ». Laura Sant

With a simple ice cream base, anything is possible. It’s like a super power: a deep-set knowledge that, with any number of add-ins and variations, gives you unfettered access to an entire world of frozen treats. That’s why we asked pastry chef and ice cream fanatic Tracy Obolsky of NYC’s North End Grill to swing by to whip up a batch of her own idyllic ice cream base, and to give us a few pointers on how to make our own.

  • Obolsky includes egg yolks for a supremely silky texture, but they need to be slowly tempered into the hot milk and sugar mixture so they don’t curdle. You then want to cook the mixture slowly over low heat, stirring constantly, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

  • At this point, you can customize: Strain it through a fine mesh sieve for a classic vanilla, or transform it by whisking in melted bittersweet chocolate or ground coffee before straining.

  • If you take the coffee route, be sure to strain it right away—if the coffee steeps too long, it will become bitter.

  • Obolsky recommends allowing the final mixture to rest in the fridge for 24 hours to let the flavors mellow and the proteins relax, which makes for a creamier final product.

  • Once it’s spun in the machine, you can fold in anything you can imagine, like chocolate chips, peanut brittle, or cookie crumbles.

Get Obolsky’s ice cream recipe »