Things I learned this week: 1. Avoid making cupcakes for a barbecue during a nation-wide heat wave. The frosting will surely melt, resulting in near-disaster. 2. Homemade ricotta is tasty on just about everything. If you spread it on a different thing every night, you will have dinner for a week. 3. Corn and berries make a brilliant flavor pairing. No joke.
Allow me to elaborate on point number 3 specifically. Now we all know that corn is used in desserts often: corn pudding, and sweet cornbread, and even just plain sweet corn ice cream. It actually seems pretty probable to use corn in desserts – it has a natural sweetness that works easily with sugar. And it also adds a delectable smoky flavor. Mmm.
But with berries! That’s the unexpected kicker that works so well with this sweet, sweet grain. It’s not so intuitive until you actually think about it: berries are sour, corn is sweet – sweet and sour is an age-long flavor combination, and ta da! Everything makes sense. The two are actually so lovely together that I may have corn on the cob with a side of raspberries at the next barbecue. Or maybe not, but that’s not the point. The point is that this ice cream works and it’s totally delicious. You should give it a whirl…or a churn! Ha.
And you can! Another interesting point that I didn’t learn this week but I will share with you anyway!: I made this ice cream without an ice cream maker. It’s a tad time consuming, but not particularly difficult. Just follow the instructions found here.
Sweet Corn and Berry Ice Cream Tart (adapted from New York Times)
A couple more things: I made some extra graham cracker tart shells after making a key lime pie last week, so I filled the ice cream in there. Delicious, and super easy to serve, but obviously not necessary. I’m adding the directions below if you choose to make it. Also, you can swirl the berry sauce into the ice cream while it’s freezing, as indicated below, or you can always just serve it on top of the scoops. Different methods, same delicious taste. A final note: I thought that an extra boost of corn flavor would be necessary, so I added some leftover corn kernels into the ice cream. First of all, that was not true because the ice cream had tons of corn flavor. But second of all, and more importantly, the corn added a not-so-pleasant crunch. Bottom line: don’t do it.
Graham Cracker Crust
7-8 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together all of the ingredients until well incorporated. Press on the bottom and up the sides of either 4 mini tart pans, or 1 9 inch tart pan until it the crust is spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely.
2 cups + 2 tbsp. whole milk
4 tsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stalk of fresh corn, husked
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
scant 2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. honey
In a small bowl, mix together corn starch and 2 tbsp. milk until well incorporated. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and salt. Set aside.
Prepare an ice bath – fill a large bowl half way with ice. Have a smaller bowl ready with a strainer.
Slice the kernels from the cob, making sure that all of the juice is also extracted from the cob. In a large pot, combine the 2 cups of milk, heavy cream, corn kernels and the cob, sugar and honey over medium high heat. Allow it to come up to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Discard the cob and strain the mixture into the prepared bowl, making sure that you press down on the corn to extract the flavor and juices.
Pour the mixture back into the pot. Over medium high heat, slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture until it is full incorporated. Allow it to come to a boil and let boil for 1 minute. Turn the heat off and whisk in the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture back into bowl and let it sit on top of the ice in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the mixture has become cold – about 45 minutes. Follow the instructions in the link above to make the ice cream without an ice cream machine. If you have a machine, follow the instructions to churn into ice cream.
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
scant 1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Combine everything in a small pot. Stirring occasionally, boil for about 7-8 minutes. Strain into a bowl, pressing the berries to extract the flavor and juice. Refrigerate until cold.
To make tarts: Place a spoon full of berry sauce on the bottom of a tart shell, until the bottom is completely covered. Spread the ice cream on top, and fill to the top of the tart shell. Spoon some more berry sauce directly into the center of the tart, on top of the ice cream. Using a butter knife, swirl the berry sauce into the ice cream. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.
To make a berry swirl, pack the ice cream into quart size containers. Layer into container, alternating between ice cream and berry sauce. Freeze until firm.