I wanted to make toasted coconut ice cream that used Jeni’s base and was vibrantly coconut-y. Jeni has a recipe that uses coconut milk, and I’m sure it’s delicious, but I had the ingredients on hand for a dairy base and, well, that’s what I wanted to make. I made this recipe once for a pitch-in at Tamre‘s house and it was G-O-O-D but I’m trying the no-egg-in-ice-cream thing now, you know? I of course consulted David Leibovitz’s recipe too, linked here in case you want to try it custard-style.
Below is the recipe that I came up with. It uses skim milk and Neufchâtel cheese to lighten it just a smidge without sacrificing richness (as far as I can tell). And yes, maybe using sweetened coconut isn’t the foodie thing to do, but it’s easy to find and I don’t mind it. This creamy deliciousness is scoopable right out of the freezer. I bet it would pair well with a dark chocolate sauce but, honestly, it doesn’t need it. Some chewing is involved thanks to the mix-in of toasted coconut but I’m OK with that.
#RealTalk here, y’all. I made this twice before posting the recipe. The first time I used all the same ingredients but totally flaked on a few steps, which meant that I had to improvise on the fly. Forget to put salt in the dairy mixture? Add it to the Neufchâtel cheese! Forget to add the cream during the steeping step? Add it at the corn starch step! Forget to use a vanilla bean? Go with extract! The point of this confession is to let you know that it’s perfectly fine, most of the time, to go easy on yourself when you make mistakes. At least in this case, the final product was equally wonderful both times.
Now go forth and churn! And gimme some feedback, yeah? I’m on the fence about whether I actually prefer a custard base for this one (at least sometimes) because that would make it taste more like coconut custard pie, which I love. Or if I should try Jeni’s non-dairy version to see if it’s even coconut-ier.
Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
2 c. skim milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. sweetened shredded coconut, divided (about 7 oz. total)
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, split)
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. Neufchâtel cheese, softened (1.5 oz.)
1. Heat 3 1/2 c. milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla bean (if using) and half the coconut in a saucepan over medium-high heat until steamy but not boiling. Turn off the heat, let it cool, and refrigerate it overnight.
2. Mix the remaining milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth suspension. Put it in the fridge.
3. Toast the other half of the coconut. I used instructions on the bag. Put it aside.
4. The next day, strain the coconut mixture through a sieve into a saucepan. Discard the coconut (if you can resist eating it). Warm the dairy mixture over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the reserved corn starch suspension as you bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened enough that dragging your finger across the spoon/spatula leaves a path. Remove from the heat.
5. Whisk the Neufchâtel cheese until smooth.
6. Add a little of the hot dairy mixture into the bowl with the Neufchâtel cheese and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining dairy mixture, and add the vanilla extract, making sure it stays smooth. I used the whisk attachment on my mixer.
7. You made ice cream base! Chill the mixture until it is cold. I put it in the fridge overnight but you could also put it in a zip-top bag submerged in an ice bath for a while.
8. Freeze the base in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. With a few minutes of churning left, add in the toasted coconut. I churned it for about 25 minutes total and added the coconut at the 20-minute mark. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and allow it to harden in the freezer for several hours before serving.
This was not the first time I’ve made sweet corn ice cream. I made it last year for my birthday, and at least once before that, and served it to friends and family without telling them what it was. “Guess the flavor!” No one guessed corn. I think I used Kevin’s recipe but did not include kernels because EWW. I wanted to make it again using Jeni’s base and make it unmistakably corn-y. There was plenty of inspiration* online, so I cobbled together a recipe (seen below) and went for it.
*Doesn’t the idea of ice cream sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls sound fascinating? I want to try it! I’ve heard that other cultures serve ice cream on bread and I love the idea.
The recipe calls for three ears of corn but you can make adjustments. I used two full ears + two ears that had no kernels (because that’s what I had on hand), and the corn was already grilled. You might want to try using just two ears if you’d like a more subtle corn flavor.
This recipe makes a double batch of rich and creamy ice cream that’s scoopable right out of the freezer. I churned it in two batches, which made almost a half gallon. It was enough to serve with cake at my birthday party, give to a friend, and trade for two dozen eggs.
We ate this with the angel food cake + sugared strawberries my my mother-in-law brought to my birthday party. It was good together. I thought it was distinctively corn-y, which you may or may not dig. I can see this flavor pairing well with a berry syrup/compote or salted caramel. (Although salted caramel isn’t my thing. I think regular caramel would be way too sweet, though.)
Have you eaten sweet corn ice cream before? Does it sound crazy to you, like it did to Bill? Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
4 c. skim milk
2 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 ears of corn, kernels removed and reserved
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
3 oz. Neufchâtel cheese, softened
1. Heat 3 1/2 c. milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and corn (kernels and cobs) in a saucepan over medium-high heat until steamy but not boiling. Turn off the heat and let steep for 1 hour.
2. Mix the remaining milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth suspension. Put it aside.
3. Whisk the Neufchâtel cheese until smooth. Put it aside.
4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Put it aside.
5. Strain the corn mixture through a sieve. Discard the kernels & cobs. Return the corn mixture to the saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the reserved slurry as you bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened enough that dragging your finger across the spoon/spatula leaves a path. Remove from the heat.
6. Add a little of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the Neufchâtel cheese and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining milk mixture, making sure it stays smooth. I used the whisk attachment on my mixer.
7. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Submerge the mixture in the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand until the ice cream base mixture is uniformly cold. You can churn it at this point or chill it longer in the fridge.
8. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions; I churned it for 25 or 30 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and allow it to harden in the freezer for several hours before serving.