Sweet Corn Ice Cream
with Berry Swirl
2 to 3 ears fresh sweet corn
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla
Scant pinch of kosher salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
For the sauce:
1 cup black raspberries, blackberries or blueberries (or a mixture)
1/2 cup sugar
Make the sauce by combining berries and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until thick, about 8 minutes; strain and chill.
Set up a double boiler or glass bowl nestled on top a pot of boiling water.
Husk corn, discard all silk, and shuck kernels from ears to measure 2 cups. Pour into a blender and add half-and-half. Blend until smooth. In a 3-quart bowl, stir together egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add corn mixture and whisk to combine.
Reduce temperature under the double boiler to a simmer. Set bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, until the mixture thickens into a custard state, about 20 minutes. It is ready when it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer—or test to see if it coats the back of a spoon. Pour the base through a mesh strainer into another bowl. Discard solids.
Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Nestle custard bowl into ice and whisk regularly until completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Stir in heavy cream, evaporated milk, salt and vanilla. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. When ice cream reaches a semi-solid state, pour berry sauce directly into the ice cream maker to create a swirl effect. Transfer a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts.
Frozen custard recipe adapted from “Nieve de Elote” by Rick Bayless from season 6 of “Mexico — One Plate at a Time”
Updated: August 25, 2013 6:11AM
The flavor concoction of sweet corn ice cream might give off a hip, trendy breeding, like something straight from of a boutique ice cream parlor — especially when infused with a berry compote.
It rides the coattails of other trendy savory-to-sweet ice cream flavors, such as salted caramel, maple bacon, even pear and blue cheese. But the truth is, this modest single-flavor ice cream is at every paleteria in every Mexican neighborhood — on a stick or in a scoop.
Find “nieve de elote” alongside other savory Mexican flavors, like queso, that get sweetened into a nearly unrecognizable about-face.
Yet to the average ice cream addict, sweet corn ice cream is far from normal; it is something special for reasons that don’t even include straying from the traditional. The taste — sweet with just a bare wisp of summer’s sweetest flavor — is unique, mild and very complementary to a stream of black raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, which all happen to be at their peak around the same time the first harvest of sweet corn is ready for the picking.
Dark berries work best with this mild ice cream; red berries are almost too overwhelming and tend to take control of the flavor.
There’s also the pride and pleasure that comes along with utilizing a seasonal ingredient. When sweet corn is in season, much too often we buy in excess. This recipe is the perfect way to use up what you don’t eat for dinner.
You may even have the flavor of the season tucked away in your freezer for weeks to come.
This recipe uses a standard frozen custard base: a yolk mixture which features its own version of tres leche. Half-and-half replaces condensed milk, but heavy cream and evaporated milk are all used to thicken the base.
Although freshly shucked corn on the cob is used, the preparation of the custard actually slightly cooks the corn just enough to yield a delicious sweet corn flavor. Emulsified in a blender, then strained, this custard yields the great taste of sweet corn without the pesky solids that get stuck between your teeth.
It isn’t always unspeakable to fall for a food trend. Worries about the longevity and practicality of many unorthodox dishes are common, but with roots as old and cultural as sweet corn ice cream — and the accessibility of a seasonal flavor — you can be sure that this one will stick around.