Friday, July 25, 2014

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

I wasn't always a fan of corn. As a kid, I found corn on the cob super annoying to eat (it was too messy for me) and I didn't even know it was available frozen and off the cob because my immigrant parents only ever bought it in the husk. My sister, on the other hand, has always loved corn. And I don't remember this, but as a kid, apparently she said corn ice cream should be a thing and she says that I said, "That's gross."

Well, fast forward several years and I'm now on board the corn ice cream bandwagon. I once had corn ice cream at Cafe Boulud in West Palm Beach, FL and I know that corn ice cream is quite popular in Mexico - they love their corn over there - but I don't think it's as popular up in these here parts, i.e. the northeast. I mean, I personally have not seen it.

Luckily, I've got my own ice cream maker and Jersey corn is in its prime right now so I just whipped a batch of my own. This is the first eggless ice cream I made, and I have to say, I didn't miss the yolks as much as I thought I would. I do think that egg-based ice creams are richer and more custardy and melt a little nicer, but the cornstarch version is quite nice. And it's great for anyone with an egg allergy.
Ingredients [yields 1.5 pints]:
2 cups + ½ cup light cream
2 ears corn
1 vanilla bean
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by cutting the corn kernels off of the cob. I like to rub the back of my knife up and down the stripped cobs to coax out every last morsel of corn as well as the "milk." Add all of the corn to a saucepan with 2 cups of light cream, the vanilla caviar and the scraped bean, and the sugar. Give it a stir and then pop on the stove and heat over a low flame until scalding.

Fish out the corn cobs and vanilla bean and then pour the cream into a blender and whizz until smooth.
Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve back into the saucepan. Reserve the ground up corn.
Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup light cream with cornstarch and salt and then add to the saucepan.
Heat the custard base on a low flame until the mixture thickens. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Set the custard aside to cool. Chill in the fridge until cold and then whisk in vanilla extract.
Make the ice cream according to your manufacturer's instructions.
Pack the ice cream into an airtight freezer safe container, swirling the reserved corn into the ice cream. Allow the ice cream to set up in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. By the way, if you just want a smooth ice cream, you don't have to swirl in the bits of corn, but I liked the textural component and the taste.
If you're feeling a little playful, serve your ice cream in little containers meant to hold corn on the cob. Cute, right? It's sweet and corny (ha) and pretty and so much fun. Corn is such an awesome way to sweeten up a dessert. But be wary! Because the sugars in corn begin to break down into starch as soon as it's harvested, it's important to use super fresh corn. If you can, go to a pick-your-own place!
And if you're not keen on those corn cob containers, just go for a more traditional ice cream cone. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Here's the recipe page:

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