CORN-FLAVOURED ICE CREAM: EAR! EAR!
Placing sweet corn ice cream between two waffles is a neat way to beat the summer heat
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 flavour 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, Maryland. She is a neighbour, 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 flavour so intense it reverberates. But salty-sweet corn ice cream is a bit unexpected, and that strong salt finish is delightful. I would serve it on its own any time.
Stupak’s waffle-as-taco-shell is thin and crisp, with pockets sufficient to cradle every bit of ice cream as it softens. 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.
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 two hours and up to overnight.
Adapted from chef Alex Stupak of Empellon in New York, by cookbook author and columnist Cathy Barrow.
MAKES 8 SERVINGS (1 QUART)
2 cups whole milk 3 cups fresh corn kernels sliced from 3 ears, cobs reserved 1 cup heavy cream 1/3 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 one 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; purée for three to five minutes, until smooth.
Wipe out the saucepan, then add the heavy cream, sugar and salt, stirring to incorporate.
Pour the puréed corn mixture through a fine-mesh strainer directly into the saucepan’s cream mixture, discarding any solids. Place over medium heat; cook for seven to nine 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 two 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 two to three 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 an hour and up to one 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 one hour before serving. They may be assembled, wrapped and frozen a day in advance.
Adapted from chef Alex Stupak by Cathy Barrow.
MAKES 12 SMALL SERVINGS
3 large eggs 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1½ cups masa harina, such as Maseca brand 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp kosher salt 8 tbsp (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 three 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 one hour before serving.
Sandwiching it between two small crispy corn waffles takes the sweet treat over the top.