To make the vanilla ice cream: Combine the cream, milk, salt, and 2 cups of the sugar in a large pot. Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife; add them to the pot and toss in the pods for added flavor. Place the cream mixture over medium heat, and bring up to a simmer; stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Ideally, the temperature should reach 175 degrees F (just below scalding) for a smooth-textured ice cream; this should take about 15 minutes. Shut off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the cream mixture to steep for 15 minutes to further infuse the vanilla flavor.
In the meantime, combine the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and blend them lightly with a wire whisk. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and continue to whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the eggs are thick and pale yellow; about 6 minutes.
Using a large ladle or measuring cup, temper the eggs by gradually whisking in about 4 cups of the hot cream mixture. Return this back to the rest of the cream in the saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until the custard thickens and leaves a path on the back of a spoon when you run your finger across it, about 10 to 12 minutes (do not let boil.)
Pour the vanilla custard through a fine strainer into another pot* and chill completely in a sink full of ice, stirring here and there; this should take about 1 hour. Ideally, let the ice cream base "age" overnight in the refrigerator before churning in an ice cream maker to improve the flavor and texture of the final product ¿ but it is still good if you decide to process it right away. Divide the ice cream into quarts** and churn each in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. When done, the ice cream will be the consistency of "soft serve." ***To harden the ice cream fully, freeze in plastic covered containers.
*To make the Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream: Heat 3/4 up of milk in a pot over medium-low heat. Add 12 ounces of the chopped chocolate and stir until completely melted. Pour 1 quart of the strained hot vanilla ice cream base into the melted chocolate and stir until very well incorporated. Chill and process as directed in the master recipe. Fold in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate after churning while the ice cream is in the "soft-serve" stage. Churn another 1 to 2 minutes just until combined.
**To make the Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream: Mix the strawberry preserves into the vanilla custard just before you start churning in the ice cream maker. Add the pieces of strawberry cheesecake and fresh strawberries after churning while the ice cream is in the "soft-serve" stage. Continue to churn for an additional 5 minutes or until combined but still chunky.
***To make the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream: Add the pieces of cookie dough after churning while the ice cream is in the "soft-serve" stage. Continue to churn for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until combined but still chunky.
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence