I generally associate cinnamon with fall or winter, but it’s such a wonderful spice that I use it no matter the season. Besides the usual cinnamon-infused goodies like apple pie (a no brainer, of course), cinnamon buns, cinnamon french toast, and even hot chocolate, I like to use it in savoury dishes. It’s what makes my chili extra special and yes, I’m sharing an insider’s secret to making a delicious chili. It’s all in the cinnamon, I swear.
When daydreaming about what new and exciting flavours I could churn up in my ice cream maker, I instantly gravitated towards cinnamon. It’s wonderful in just about everything, so why not as an ice cream? I was inspired by this recipe from David Lebovitz (the ultimate churn master), mostly because he uses whole cinnamon sticks to infuse the base with a richer cinnamon flavour. Most of the other recipes I looked through only used ground cinnamon and while I’m sure they turn out just fine, I was looking for something more spectacular.
Cinnamon by itself would be amazing, but I wanted to elevate it to the next level. Then I saw the honey sitting out on the counter and it clicked – cinnamon and honey belong together. The aromatic spiciness of cinnamon paired with the rich sweetness of honey… yes, yes… this is where the magic starts.
I used plain old no-name Canada No. 1 White honey, as we go through the stuff like it’s going out of style. It’s our sweetener of choice in a lot of every day things like coffee and tea, and I’ve taken to using it in various marinades in place of sugar. I don’t know that this recipe needs a special type of honey; it’s about complementing the cinnamon, so a honey that is strongly flavoured could end up competing with the cinnamon.
As for the cinnamon, I just picked up a pack of whole cinnamon sticks from the local grocery store, so nothing special. I did make sure they still smelled fragrant, to make sure that they would infuse enough flavour into the ice cream base. Ground cinnamon is optional to add at the end; I always have a bottle of ground Saigon cinnamon kicking around the pantry so I added just a 1/4 teaspoon of that into the base before churning for additional spice.
This is another recipe that require some patience as the cinnamon sticks need time to infuse into the base. But good things come to those who wait, right?
I was a tad nervous about this recipe because I’ve never used honey in an ice cream before, but I’m very pleased with how this turned out. First you get a hit of spicy cinnamon on your palate and then the warm, sweet richness of honey emerges and lingers. I have a particularly sweet tooth so I love that intense sweetness of honey, but some may find it a tad too sweet for their tastes. I think if this was paired with some fruit, it would balance out the sweetness quite well.
Cinnamon & Honey Ice Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar
- 10 cinnamon sticks, broken up
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Heat the milk, sugar, 1 cup of heavy cream, cinnamon sticks, and salt in a medium saucepan until it starts to steam (do not let it boil). Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl or container and place a mesh strainer on top. Set aside. In a small saucepan, warm the honey over low-medium heat. Heating up the honey will loosen it up, making it easier to incorporate it into the custard.
Reheat the cinnamon milk mixture until steaming, being careful not to let it boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour tablespoonfuls of the warmed cinnamon milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
Place the saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula; it should only take a few minutes. Make sure not to let the mixture boil. Add in the warmed honey and mix well.
Pour the custard through the mesh strainer and discard the cinnamon sticks. Stir into the cream and place the bowl over an ice bath. If using the ground cinnamon, place it in a small bowl with about a tablespoon of the custard and mix until the cinnamon is incorporated (it’s best to mix it into a bit of custard before adding it as ground cinnamon tends to clump when added to liquid; this way, it disperses evenly); add this into the custard. Stir occasionally, until the mixture is cool. Cover and transfer the custard to the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy often and enjoy liberally, because ice cream makes your taste buds happy.