Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Sweet corn and ice cream: two iconic summer foods, one intensely scrumptious mash-up. It’s called sweet corn ice cream, and it definitely belongs at the top of the Greatest Hits of Corn with all our savory faves, like air fryer elote and corn fritters and, oh my, spoon bread.
It starts with a custard base that includes buttermilk, so it’s rich and luscious with a subtle tanginess. It’s got a little bit of vanilla and honey to play up the natural sweetness of those bright yellow corn kernels without smooshing their vegetable essence. The corn is actually steeped in the cream and then strained out, and the resulting flavor is sometimes hard for people to place. It tastes a bit like cream of corn, but better — subtle, light, and silky-smooth.
But wait, there’s more: we swirl streusel through it! The streusel is just flour and oats toasted with butter, salt, and brown sugar, but it gives the ice cream a rich ribbon of sweet, crunchy goodness. And somehow, it makes the ice cream taste even more summery.
Sweet corn ice cream is the perfect dessert for entertaining. Everyone loves ice cream, and this one is a nice change from the usual suspects — surprising in the most delightful way.
Yield: 1 quart
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Place the base of an ice cream machine in the freezer a minimum of 24 hours before churning the ice cream.
To steep the cream: Cut the corn cobs in half and slice the kernels from the cob. Use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining flesh and juices from the cobs. Combine the cobs, corn kernels, and their juices in a medium saucepan.
Add the heavy cream, whole milk, buttermilk, ¼ cup of the sugar, and salt to the saucepan. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover, remove the pot from the heat, and steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Remove the cobs from the cream and use the back of a knife to express the cream from the cobs into a medium bowl. Discard the cobs. Add the cream and corn to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
To make the custard: Strain the cream through a nut milk bag or sieve lined with cheesecloth into a medium saucepan. Press or squeeze the corn to express all of the cream. You should have 3 cups of liquid total.
Heat the cream over medium heat until steaming. Remove the pot from the heat.
Fill a large bowl ¼ of the way with ice and cover the ice with cold water. Place a medium bowl in the ice bath and line it with a sieve. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, honey, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisk vigorously until light and aerated, 1 minute.
Slowly pour the warm cream into the egg yolks, whisking continuously until combined. Transfer the custard back to the saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Immediately strain the custard into the bowl over ice. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place a piece of plastic wrap flush against the custard and let cool to room temperature, 1 hour. Transfer the custard to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to overnight, before churning.
To make the streusel: Preheat the oven to 350º. In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and butter. Use your fingers to press the ingredients together to form a crumbly dough. Cover and freeze for 15 minutes.
Transfer the streusel to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until golden brown throughout, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
To churn the ice cream: Place the custard in the ice cream maker and churn until quite thick, about 12 minutes.
Alternate layering the frozen custard and a thin layer of streusel in an airtight container. Freeze until firm, a minimum of 5 hours. The ice cream can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.