There’s no way around it: If you want to make ice cream at home, you need an ice cream maker. Without an ice cream maker, you can make adequate ice cream substitutes — among them slushy granitas and moderately creamy frozen whipped cream — but you cannot make ice cream. That’s because ice cream gets its smooth, rich texture from being churned in an ice-cold bowl, a process that forces air into it as it freezes. Yes, an ice cream maker is a space hog, and no, it doesn’t have many other uses, but without one your only options are buying a pint of Häagen-Dazs (probably freezer-burned) or visiting your local artisanal ice cream boutique (probably overpriced).
You will notice that ice cream is not called “ice milk” or “ice half-and-half,” and there’s a reason for this: Ice cream ought to be made with cream. Specifically, heavy cream (sometimes called whipping cream), the kind with a high enough fat content that it will hold stiff peaks when beaten. Lower-fat dairy products will yield a disappointingly icy-textured frozen dessert with the dull flavor of malted milk.
If you, like me, had freeze-dried corn powder left over after making polenta a few months ago, I cannot encourage you vehemently enough to put it in your ice cream. Heck, even if you didn’t make polenta a few months ago, I vehemently encourage you to buy freeze-dried corn powder for the express purpose of putting it in your ice cream.
Corn ice cream is a sweet, slightly tangy, succulent marvel: the perfect summertime dessert (especially if you serve it topped with hot strawberry-rhubarb jam).
However, if you are too lazy to procure freeze-dried corn powder or make it yourself in a food processor, you may leave it out of the below recipe for vanilla-brown-sugar ice cream, which, though nowhere near as exciting as corn ice cream, beats that freezer-burned store-bought pint by a long shot.
Corn and brown sugar ice cream
Yield: 1½ pints (4 to 6 servings)
Time: 1 to 2 hours, mostly unattended
- 3 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons freeze-dried corn powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Put 2 cups of the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until it begins to steam, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the brown sugar, egg yolks, freeze-dried corn powder, and a pinch of salt until thick and pale, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the eggs and sugar, then return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and cool.
- Meanwhile, whip the remaining 1 cup cream with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or a handheld electric mixer) until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Serve immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to one month.