Friday, October 15, 2010

corn ice cream with sugared strawberries and balsamic vinegar

long over due corn ice cream

Oh man. I probably killed whatever minuscule readership I had by taking a little hiatus there. Whoops. Anyway, I am back. With more ice cream!

Back during the summer Laura and I were getting 6 ears of beautiful fresh summer corn a week. It was always incredibly delicious, but it was also a lot for two girls to handle. We made soups and salad, and ate it off the cob when my face wasn't sealed shut. These were definitely good, but it was all pretty standard savory fare and I wanted to try my hand at a corn dessert that would take let the corn's natural sweetness take center stage. I thought about making a corn budino pudding, but I didn't really know how to go about it. Then I remembered the corn custard they served last summer at the Shake Shack, which, despite my initial skepticism, I thought was pretty awesome. As you can probably imagine, I quickly decided it was time for my second batch of homemade ice cream!

Some quick googling for corn ice cream turned up a Rick Bayless recipe. Based on his Top Chef appearances, I think Rick is incredibly awesome, and while I haven't had the opportunity to eat at either of his restaurants, his picadillo recipe yields a rich melting pot of sweet and savory flavors that I could eat any night of the week. So, I was excited to try my hand at another one of his dishes.

corn ice cream over zesty strawberries with aged balsamic

I followed the recipe as written, save for swapping out the orange liqueur with some dark rum. It seemed like it would be fairly easy, for the most part. Of course, I anticipated difficulty with cooking the egg custard, and it did not disappoint. I stirred the egg, cream and corn mixture over a double boiler for like, fifty minutes and it never thickened! This was during the summer, so it was oppressively hot and even more so over the stove. Eventually I just gave up. I think my ice cream was thinner and less creamy as a result, but then again my vanilla ice cream was plenty creamy, and it wasn't thickened with a custard base. Perhaps I just need to get more comfortable in general with the ice cream making process.

Other than getting my custard to thicken, there's not much I would do differently. Of course, I made this just a week or so after I had my wires opened, so I was sick of straining all the little pieces out of my food. I knew I should, but I couldn't bare the thought of anymore of that time consuming nonsense, so I left in the smashed corn kernels. It tasted ok, but didn't do much for the ice cream's texture. If I made this again, I'd definitely go through the trouble of straining it all.

strawberries and ice cream in a fancy presentation by my standards

So I was pretty certain that the corn ice cream would be delicious by itself, but I was making a big vegetarian dinner for my boy, and I wanted a slightly more impressive presentation. Laura had bought a big carton of strawberries in China Town, and Nathan had brought back a tiny bottle of aged balsamic vinegar from Florence. I found a nice recipe for strawberries in a zesty balsamic syrup, so I decided that I would serve my ice cream atop that.

I quickly boiled sugar, water and lemon peel, and then let that sit in the fridge while Nathan and I ate dinner. To serve, I filled a ramekin with strawberries, added a scoop of the corn ice cream, and then drizzled on a few drops of the expensive balsamic. Even Nathan was impressed with how elegant and delicious it was! The corn ice cream was sweet and custardy, with a subtle corn flavor, and the strawberries were bright and delicious with a hint of citrus. I liked the what I could taste of the balsamic, but wish I had added it with a more generous hand. I think I was just afraid of wasting such an expensive ingredient, but using a little more really would have made the strawberries sing.

It was a great dessert to end a great meal. Man, I definitely need to get that ice cream machine churning again!


  1. Glad you're back on line!
    Recently had some kettle corn ice cream from a local purveyor. Would love to find a recipe for that.

  2. I love interesting ideas for ice cream! If you want more oomf from the vinegar maybe make a balsamic reduction? I had a strawberry dessert that used it once and who knew that was such a good flavor combination? But either way I def I feel your price-tag pain when it comes to really good aged balsam :(

  3. bah, I just realized I prob wasn't very clear. i was just trying to say you can use the cheaper stuff and reduce it and it'll make a pretty shmancy cool reduction with more flavor oomf and be able to ration off the good stuff for special occasions :)