As we cling on to the final thrall of summer, before soup and casserole season officially arrives, this sweet corn ice cream celebrates one of the world’s most versatile grains.
Although corn will be considered an unusual ice cream flavour to many Brits, it’s a popular flavour in Mexico and for good reason. Corn is a fundamental pillar of Mexico’s national cuisine, showcased in a huge variety of delicious foods and drinks, and its sweetness is perfectly suited to ice cream: especially for a dessert that’s sweet but not overbearingly so. To make the ice cream, corn kernels are typically stirred in whole, though some recipes grate them to extract even more of their sweet, milky liquid. Some recipes call for the kernels to be strained, but they also add a good amount of welcome texture.
This particular sweet corn ice cream recipe is particularly inspired by that served at El Pastor alongside a slice of corn cake. And although it sounds extremely unorthodox, both versions are taken to the next level with a dash of hot sauce. Yes, ice cream doused with hot sauce sounds unusual, but on paper it makes sense. Typically drunk in huge quantities after eating hot chillies, milk has a neutralising effect, thus restraining some of the sauce’s spiciness, allowing the chillies’ complex flavours to develop on even the most spice intolerant palates rather than being overwhelmed by heat. Chilli and chocolate is a time-honoured classic, so why shouldn’t ice cream be accepted with dash of hot sauce. I’m particularly fond of using the original Cholulah here, but other finely-textured hot sauces also work well.
What’s more, this sweet corn ice cream can also be made without an ice cream machine. Once the ‘custard’ is prepared and cooled, simply freeze for around three hours, stirring every 30 minutes, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and fully incorporate any frozen chunks of ice cream.
- Food processor
- Ice cream machine (preferred but not essential)
- 6 corn on the cob husked
- 600 ml double cream
- 250 ml milk
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- Hot sauce such as Cholulah (optional)
- Popcorn to garnish (optional)
- If using an ice cream machine, prepare as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Add the milk, cream, salt, and half of the sugar to a large saucepan and set aside.
- Cut the corn kernels from their cobs then cut each cob into three smaller pieces and add to the saucepan with the milk and cream mixture.
- Place the corn kernels into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add this to the saucepan with the other ingredients.
- On a medium-low heat bring the corn, milk and cream mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove from the heat and allow to steep for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to overnight in the fridge (the longer the steeping time the better).
- Remove the cobs from the liquid, scraping them with a spoon to remove excess liquid, and discard.
- Depending on preference, the sweet corn ice cream can be served smooth or with the pulp. If serving smooth, strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the corn to remove excess liquid. If serving with pulp only strain half of the mixture.
- On a medium-low heat bring the stained/partially strained mixture back to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar.
- Once the cream is simmering, temper the egg yolks by slowly adding some of the hot cream to the egg yolks, one ladleful at a time while constantly stirring. Three ladles of cream or a mug’s measure of cream will be enough (this doesn’t need to be precise).
- Combine the mixed yolks and remaining cream and return to the heat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Leave the ‘custard’ to cool and transfer to the fridge, chill for at least two hours.
- If using an ice cream machine: process according to manufacturer’s instructions and freeze until firm.
- If churning by hand: freeze the custard for three hours, stirring every 30 minutes. When stirring, make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and fully incorporate any frozen chunks of ice cream. After three hours the ice cream should have the texture of very soft serve. At this point, leave to freeze until firm. Decanting the ice cream into smaller bowls will help it freeze faster.