sweet corn ice cream

Taber corn season is my favourite time of year.  Ever since Mark brought home a bag of taber corn that he picked up on his way home from a work trip in Southern Alberta, my life has never been the same… in a very good way, of course.

Taber corn is named after the town that produces it – Taber, Alberta, known for its large amounts of sunshine that produces the most amazing corn I’ve had the pleasure of devouring.  Peak season is mid-August, and around that time dozens of stands pop up in various locations around Calgary and area.  But buyer beware – only buy from stands that can produce a certificate of authenticity that includes the farm’s name and phone number.  Appearance-wise, it’s impossible to tell taber corn apart from imposters.

What better way to celebrate such beautiful corn than by making it into a batch of ice cream?  I’ve been wanting to bust out my ice cream maker for some time now, but I was waiting patiently for taber corn season.  I figure, if I’m going to make corn ice cream, I’m going to use the best corn that money can buy.

To some, corn ice cream sounds awful and really strange.  To me, though, it’s a very familiar treat, having grown up enjoying the Korean variations (Google it and you’ll see).  It’s common to see corn used as a dessert in Asian culture.  It makes sense after all, since corn has an inherent sweetness that lends itself well to desserts.  Besides all that, I absolutely love corn.  LOVE IT.

So, to get started, I searched the web for a recipe and settled on the one I found at Lottie & Doof (there’s tons of other awesome recipes and some of the most gorgeous food photography I’ve ever seen – definitely a must visit if you love food blogs!).

I love that ice cream can be made with just a few solid ingredients.  I gathered up eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream, and the star of the show, taber corn.  You can use any variety of sweet corn that you desire.

The recipes requires the kernels to be removed from the cob.  I found it easier to break the cobs in half and placing the flat side down on a cutting board to keep the cob from moving around.  I worked pretty slowly because the kernels had a tendency to fly all over the kitchen.  I’m sure there’s a better (and less messier) way to remove the kernels, but it worked just fine for me to take it slow.

The cobs have all the flavour so they get put into the pot with the milk, cream, and some of the sugar to steep.  As the mixture was heating up, the beautiful aroma of fresh corn started permeating the kitchen.  Mmmmm.  Bring the mixture just to a boil, remove from the heat, then let steep for 15-20 minutes.  After that, remove the cobs.

While I waited, I separated the eggs.  I thought 7 egg yolks was a lot, but I went with it anyway.  The corn mixture gets a good whiz in a blender, too.  After blending, I mixed in about a cup of the warm corn mixture into the egg yolks to temper, then added the egg mixture back into pot.  I cooked the custard mixture for about 10 minutes until it got thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

I had Mark help me strain all the chunky bits out.  He’s a good sous chef.  I thought about leaving the chunky bits in for more texture, but in the end decided to keep the mixture smooth.  I might keep some of the bits in next time to see how that works.

I transferred the strained custard into my super handy Tupperware container that comes with a lid.  I put plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Instead of placing it in an ice bath, I let the custard cool overnight in the fridge.  I read somewhere that leaving it overnight allows the custard to “cure”.  It sounded promising so that’s what I did.

Bright and early the next morning, I whipped out my ice cream machine and let it do its thing.  For this particular machine, I let it work its magic for 20 minutes before transferring the thickened mixture into a shallow container.  I put a layer of plastic wrap on the surface before putting it in the freezer to prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface.

When I got home from work, I was able to enjoy a bowl of homemade corn ice cream.  It tastes like buttery, ice-cold creamed corn and it has an amazing aroma.  The ice cream itself turned out smooth and creamy, with a beautiful pale yellow colour.  As much as I love the Korean corn confections from my childhood, nothing beats freshly made corn ice cream.

I also have to mention that Mark has eaten a bowl of this every day since I made it.  For a guy who readily admits that he’s not a “dessert person” to be eating this much ice cream, it must be pretty damn good.

Give it a try!  Your taste buds may be pleasantly surprised.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream (recipe from Lottie & Doof)

  • 4 ears of sweet corn, shucked
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Course salt
  • 7 large egg yolks

Carefully cut kernels from the cobs and transfer them to a saucepan.  Break the cobs in half and add them to the pan.  Stir in milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes.  Discard cobs.

Working in batches, puree corn mixture in a blender until smooth.  Return mixture to saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.  Whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl.  Whisk 1 cup corn mixture into yolks, then return entire mixture to saucepan, whisking constantly.  Cook over medium-low heat until custard thickens and can easily coat the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes.

Strain custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing down on solids; discard solids.  Transfer bowl to ice-water bath and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

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