Sweet corn ice cream has been making appearances on late summer dessert menus all over town, from Commonwealth to Moody’s Backroom, so I decided to make some myself with fresh, local corn. After all, sweet corn is one of summer’s masterpieces. I love it boiled, grilled, chowdered, even raw. Why not celebrate all that sweetness?
What I came up with tastes exactly like corn on the cob. Like, exactly, down to the butter and salt. It’s uncanny, which can be good or bad depending on whether your mind is willing to accept two seemingly disparate worlds colliding: the world of ice cream and the world of corn on the cob. These flavor/texture hybrids can be very polarizing. The 12YO and I were in agreement that it was delicious, but the 10YO refused to try it and Husband hated it. Why? Because it tastes exactly like corn on the cob...but it's ice cream.
The salt content is intentionally high to give it that special stand-alone corn-on-the-cob flavor. For a less salty variation to be served alongside, say, blackberry cobbler, reduce the salt by half or more to taste, but do keep a pinch.
4 ears of corn, husked
2 cups milk
2 large eggs (local or pasteurized)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups heavy cream
Using the large holes on a box grater, shave the corn off the cobs and add to a medium saucepan along with the cobs, broken in half. (Alternatively, you can cut the corn off the cobs and run the kernels through a food processor.) Add the milk to the pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture infuse, cobs and all, for 1 hour. Cover the pan and place in the refrigerator to steep overnight.
Remove the cobs from the mixture and discard. Strain the milk mixture into a medium bowl, pressing down on the corn with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the strained corn for another use.*
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar a little at a time, then the salt, and whisk for 1 minute more. Add the strained milk mixture as well as the cream. Whisk for another minute until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually spin for 25 minutes). Transfer the churned mixture into a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.
*If your poached corn still has some flavor left as mine did, don’t throw it away. You can toss it with cooked Israeli couscous or orzo, halved cherry tomatoes, slivered basil, and goat cheese for a delicious lunch.