Corn ice cream? Oh yes

  • Salty-Sweet Corn Ice Cream Sandwiches are made with waffles and a homemade batter. Goran Kosanovic / For the Washington Post

Washington Post
Friday, September 01, 2017

Lolling in front of the air conditioner and wishing for Snowmageddon is one way to beat the heat. For me, the only sensible response is ice cream – specifically and most recently, the corn ice cream I had at New York’s Empellon restaurant.

It filled a taco-shaped waffle and had me imagining a way to bring this quintessential double dose of summer flavor to a backyard get-together. With chef Alex Stupak’s recipe in hand, I sought further advice from ice cream maker Susan Soorenko, owner of Moorenko’s Ice Cream in Silver Spring, Md. She is a neighbor, so admittedly the search wasn’t difficult. Moorenko’s has made a sweet corn ice cream since 2009, finished with a pinch of salt.

I shared the Empellon ingredient list with her, which included dextrose and guar gum – both of which I chose to omit from my version. “When you’re producing for sale,” she said, “you have to stabilize the ice cream with something to overcome the iciness that happens on Day 2 or 3.”

The Empellon ice cream does not contain eggs, which accounts in part for its light and refreshing texture. It’s more ice milk than ice cream, with corn-infused flavor so intense it reverberates. It also is slightly grainy and salt-forward on the tongue; Susan explained the graininess as expected. Corn is a grain, after all.

But salty-sweet corn ice cream is a bit unexpected, and that strong salt finish is delightful. I would serve it on its own anytime. Sandwiching it between two small, crispy corn waffles takes the sweet treat over the top.

Stupak’s waffle-as-taco-shell is thin and crisp, with pockets sufficient to cradle every bit of ice cream as it softens. After I smoothed a thick batter across my waffle iron, indentations were already forming. My iron, a classic American waffler, divides round waffles into five slim and crackly heart-shaped sections. If your waffle maker doesn’t create convenient shapes, use kitchen scissors or a 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutter to make small ice cream sandwich bookends.

Homemade ice cream and the waffles to put it on might seem like a lot of fuss, but it’s easy to break down the recipes into discrete tasks over a couple of days. The waffles can be made a day ahead, and the ice cream can be frozen for a day or two before assembling the sandwiches. When you make this dessert in one fell swoop, cook the waffles while the ice cream churns, assembling the sandwiches with soft ice cream straight from the machine. Or if you have frozen the ice cream in advance, allow it to soften only to the point where a round, firm ball can be scooped, about 15 minutes in my kitchen.

Then again, if you aren’t up to making the waffles, sandwich the ice cream between your favorite crisp cookies.

Homebound by the heat or not, the best response to a weather event may be a neighborhood get-together. This ice cream, with or without the sandwiches made with it, would be a cool way to break the ice.

Salty-Sweet Corn Ice Cream

Make ahead: The corn cobs and kernels steep in the milk for an hour before making the base. The base mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

2 cups whole milk

3 cups fresh corn kernels sliced from 3 ears, cobs reserved

1 cup heavy cream

⅓ cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Combine the milk, corn kernels and cobs in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let the corn steep in the milk for 1 hour.

Stand the cooled cobs up in the pan. Scrape a blunt knife against each one to release any remaining liquid, then discard the cobs. Transfer the milk and corn kernels to a blender; puree for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.

Wipe out the saucepan, then add the heavy cream, sugar and salt, stirring to incorporate.

Pour the pureed corn mixture through a fine-mesh strainer directly into the saucepan’s cream mixture, discarding any solids. Place over medium heat; cook for 7 to 9 minutes, making sure the sugar has dissolved.

Strain through the fine-mesh strainer (again), into a storage container. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. This is your ice cream base.

Whisk the chilled base, then pour into the container of an ice cream machine. Churn according to manufacturer’s directions. For a soft consistency, the ice cream can be served right away. Or transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 2 to 3 hours.

Salty-Sweet Corn Ice Cream Sandwiches

You’ll need an ice cream machine and a regular (not Belgian) waffle iron. It’s best to fill the sandwiches while the ice cream is somewhat soft. Wrap and freeze the assembled sandwiches for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Make ahead: The waffles can be made and held, tightly wrapped, for several hours before assembling the sandwiches. The sandwiches should be frozen for 1 hour before serving. They may be assembled, wrapped and frozen a day in advance.

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups masa harina, such as Maseca brand

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

About 3 cups Salty-Sweet Corn Ice Cream, or more as needed (see related recipe)

Preheat a waffle iron.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large liquid measuring cup, until thick and glossy.

Combine the masa harina, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, then whisk in the egg mixture. While whisking, drizzle in the melted butter to create a batter that is velvety smooth.

Grease the waffle iron lightly with cooking oil spray, as needed.

To make each waffle, scoop about a half cup of the batter onto the heated waffle iron, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Close the lid and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the waffle is lightly golden and releases easily. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter. Do not worry if any waffles break along their section lines, as that is the next step.

To make the ice cream sandwiches, break the waffles apart into a total of 24 pieces. Place a small, round scoop of the Salty-Sweet Corn Ice Cream on top of 12 of them. (The amount of ice cream you need to fill the sandwiches will depend upon how big your waffle sections are.) Top with the remaining 12 waffle pieces and press lightly so the sandwiches hold together. Smooth the filling edges with an offset spatula. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour before serving.