fwiw, I came up with an alternative way to avoid the lumps of cocoa/chalky thing. Basically, while the milk is coming up to temperature, I put my sugar and cocoa in a dish, and then add the tiniest amount of boiling (or otherwise pretty hot) water to it. stirring with a fork to make a paste.
Vanilla bean paste often works better than extract for non-baking purposes, and bean by itself won't do much unless you infuse it in the cream by gentle heating; you might also just leave the vanilla bean in the cream (as a liquid) for a few days before whipping and freezing, though this'll give different results.
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Cracking the Beans: I like the Champion Juicer to crack beans. It's fast and efficient. And gives you double duty since it can also make roasted nibs into liquor. Peeling by hand is low tech and the way it was done long ago (and in some origins), takes a while, and may be more or less efficient for winnowing at the same time depending on your technique.