Recipe courtesy of Ali Clarke

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 4 hr 40 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 cups
I grew up in a part of New Jersey that had a ton of corn farms. I would start to get excited in July because I could see the corn growing in the fields. There’s an old phrase “knee-high by the Fourth of July,” meaning if all goes well the corn should be knee height by early July. Come August we would go to our favorite farmers’ market and load up on corn. Simply boiled, slathered in butter and seasoned with salt is a delicious way to enjoy sweet corn, but I started to play around with ways to preserve this seasonal ingredient. One of my favorite experiments was making corn into ice cream so I could keep this taste of summer in my freezer. In this recipe, charring the corn deepens its flavor, and the addition of brown sugar and cinnamon complement it for a perfect sweet treat.



Special equipment:
an ice cream machine
  1. Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat. Add the corn to the dry skillet, in batches if necessary, so the corn lays in an even layer. Cook the corn, rotating the cobs every few minutes, until the kernels turn bright yellow and char in spots, about 8 minutes. Cool until the corn can be handled, at least 5 minutes.
  2. Place a small bowl upside down in the middle of a larger bowl. Rest one end of a corn cob on the small bowl and place a hand on top to stabilize the cob. Use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels off one side of the cob, then rotate the cob and continue until all the kernels are removed. Repeat with the remaining corn. If necessary, transfer the corn kernels to a 4-quart or larger saucepan to make room in the bowl.
  3. Combine the corn kernels, cobs, cream, milk and salt in the large saucepan. Stir to combine and then place the pan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure it doesn’t scald on the bottom of the pan. When bubbles form around the edges of the pan and steam comes off the top remove it from the heat. You can use the mixture immediately or, for more intense corn flavor, let it steep for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the cobs from the cream mixture and compost or discard them. Working in batches, transfer the corn and cream mixture to a blender, filling the blender no more than three-quarters full. Remove the stopper from the blender lid to allow steam to release while blending and place a kitchen towel over the top. Blend until the kernels are mostly pureed and the mixture becomes pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Repeat until all the cream mixture is blended and strained.
  5. Rinse and dry the saucepan and pour the strained liquid into the pan. Set aside. Compost or discard the solids in the strainer. Have a large clean bowl with a fine mesh strainer placed over the top ready; set aside.
  6. Whisk the egg yolks and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Ladle in about 1 cup of the milk mixture and whisk to combine, making sure the brown sugar is completely dissolved. Stir the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches 175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer or it coats a spatula or the back of a spoon thickly enough so you can make a track in it with your finger. Immediately strain the custard into the clean bowl. Whisk in the cinnamon.
  7. Freeze the custard according to the instructions for your ice cream maker; some machines require you to chill the custard completely before churning it and some allow you to churn it immediately after cooking. If it’s necessary to chill it, let the mixture sit in the bowl until it reaches room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until cold. The custard can be refrigerated 1 to 2 days before churning.
  8. Once churned, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze until hardened, at least 4 hours. Scoop and serve! 

Cook’s Note

Review the instructions for your ice cream machine and freeze the churning bowl in advance if necessary. This ice cream is best when you use fresh corn on the cob as the cobs add a lot more flavor, but you can also use corn kernels, fresh or frozen. If using frozen, defrost 7 cups kernels first and then char the kernels per the recipe above. Follow the recipe as written, just disregarding instructions about the cobs.