Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet Corn and Coconut Milk Ice Cream

When you take that first bite of corn on the cob, and a little butter drips down your chin, flecks of salt and pepper clinging to your lips, you know that summer has truly arrived.  There were hot and humid summer nights when we would eat nothing but corn on the cob and baked potatoes for dinner, and it was perfectly satisfactory.

Corn on the cob was a staple in my home, and my dad would always recruit my brother, sister and me to shuck the corn, after he'd hacked off the ends first.  I thought it was a tedious task at the time, pulling off all those silky strands, and had a fear of finding worms crawling underneath the husks, as happened sometimes when we picked it fresh from "pick your own" corn fields.

We usually, nearly always really, boiled the corn in water, just for a minute or two, then let it bob in the hot water while we finished getting the rest of dinner ready.  One cob each for everyone, except dad, who ate at least 2 or 3.  And if he didn't think that we'd eaten enough corn off ours, well, he'd go back and clean those up, too, he loved it that much.  We called the corn cobs "corn bones".

Jamie and I usually grill corn on the cob, with a little olive oil and salt, and it's really best grilled in the husk, as that helps to keep the corn moist while surrounded by all that dry heat.  So while we've been avoiding grilling on the balcony to let pigeon eggs hatch (which, in hindsight, has turned out to be a mistake, because they made a huge mess while sitting in the nest waiting for their feathers to come in; although I was thrilled yesterday to come home and find that they had flown away, and we could reclaim our balcony!), I boiled the corn in coconut milk one evening, with a little sugar and buttermilk as well.

We ate the coconut-milk boiled corn with our dinner, and it was delicious, moist and milky, and slightly sweet.  But that was only half my plan...

I returned the cobs - minus the corn kernels - to the coconut milk and let it simmer for a while, thoroughly infusing the corn flavor into the milk.  And then I added egg yolks, cream and vanilla and made a custard for ice cream.

You may think it sounds strange, but corn is sweet, and used in desserts such as corn pudding, so I didn't think it would be so out of place in ice cream.  I really loved this ice cream for how unexpected it was.  When you take a bite, and taste the hint of sweet corn amidst the creaminess of the custard, it's surprising, but pleasant, and I found that this ice cream went nicely with all sorts of things like fruit crisps and crumbles, or just with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

I baked a few cookies to go along with it, a simple batter with coconut and almonds, and although I didn't add any chocolate chips, I was missing them, so I would recommend the chocolate chips.  Chocolate chips always make cookies better.

Most summers we drive to North Dakota to visit family and friends in Jamie's hometown, and after arriving home Sunday night after a long day in the car, Jamie promptly fell asleep and I caught up on some shows in our DVR, while eating sweet corn ice cream for dinner.  I've shared just a couple photos I took of his parents' garden - the petals on their deck looked really pretty after it rained.

I have so many ice cream flavors I've been dreaming of lately, and hopefully I will have lots to share over the next few months, so my ice cream maker will be busy churning away with yummy frozen treats for the hot summer...

One Year Ago:    Rhubarb Almond Streusel Muffins and the Little Pie that Couldn't...
Two Years AgoSnickerdoodle Sweetheart Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sweet Corn and Coconut Milk Ice Cream
printable recipe

  • 4 ears of fresh corn on the cob
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut the ends off the corn and remove the husks and silk.  Set aside.

In a large stock pot, combine the coconut milk, buttermilk and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add the corn, return to a boil, and cook for 3-5 minutes, or longer, depending on how well cooked you like your corn.  I cooked ours for only 3 minutes, and it was just right.  Remove the corn from the pot and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off.  (Enjoy the corn with your dinner, with a little salt and pepper.)

Return the cobs to the stock pot.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer for one hour.  Remove the cobs, let cool slightly, then use the back of a knife to scrape as much liquid as possible from the cobs into the pot; don't worry about chunks of corn getting in there since you will be straining it later.  Discard the cobs.

Stir the cream into the coconut milk mixture, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.

In a small bowl, break up the egg yolks with a whisk.  Slowly stream one cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking them constantly to temper them.  Pour the egg mixture back into the pot.  Cook the custard, continuing to whisk constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5-8 minutes.  Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, to remove any bits of corn and cooked egg.  Whisk the vanilla into the custard.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap, resting right against the surface of the custard to prevent a skin, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Churn the chilled custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, then transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Yields about 1 1/2 - 2 quarts.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Coconut Cookies
printable recipe
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling the cookies
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut milk (or any kind of milk)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I didn't add any, but they would be a very welcome addition!)

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and both sugars for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla and coconut extracts and the egg.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the mixing bowl and mix on low to combine.  Add the milk.  Add the coconut and almonds.  Chill the dough for 2 hours.

Roll the dough into balls (rounded tablespoons), then roll in granulated sugar.  Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the frozen cookie balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes, until pale golden.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Yields about 2 1/2 dozen.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen