Caramel Corn Ice Cream

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 20, 2014

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.comAfter reading the title of this post, you probably cringed a little. I don’t blame you because I did the same when I first heard about this ice cream flavor. I momentarily put it into the what the heck were you thinking category with other less inviting ice cream flavors…like lobster.

But I was very wrong…

Caramel corn ice cream is definitely not something I dreamed up. I happened to be watching one of those cooking shows, called Unique Sweets where they were highlighting ice cream stores around the country. Many of these stores offer ice cream flavors that you may not ordinarily find in your neighborhood parlor, and it was one of these little shops that sold a sweet corn ice cream that customers simply raved about.

It just so happened that I had a few pieces of fresh corn on hand straight from the eastern shore of Maryland — well known for its extraordinarily delicious produce.  The whole idea sounded interesting enough and since I had a few ears of corn to spare, I didn’t have to go out of my way at all.

I don’t have an ice cream machine so I always use my dependable semifreddo recipe. Once I decide on the flavor, I just tweak it as necessary. I looked online to see what others had done and found that some poached the corn (still on the cob) in some cream to extract as much flavor as possible and others used whole pieces of corn in the ice cream itself.

I didn’t want this to be too labor intensive, so I decided to take the fresh corn off the husk and scrape off as much of the milk from the cob as I could. I put this into a small pot and added some heavy cream and corn syrup, and let it all cook down together until it had thickened.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea of adding whole pieces of corn to the ice cream, because frankly, I find corn shells annoying – but, I hadn’t completely given up on the idea, either. I decided I was going to create this as I went along and let the flavor and texture evolve.

After cooking down the corn mixture, I put it in the food processor to see how smooth I could get it. Those corn shells don’t get smooth enough, so I passed the mixture through a sieve. The smooth as silk corn paste that came out of this process was just delicious – and I decided that this was what I was going to use in the ice cream. I had no idea that corn flavor is so complimentary to the flavor of cream. Had I not tried this, I would have never known.

I wanted to take it a step further and create a caramel to swirl into the ice cream. I also wanted a textural difference plus a little sweet and salty element, so I chose to coat some Fritos corn chips with some of the brittle caramel.

It all sounds so crazy and ridiculous…but it all worked so very beautifully together.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream
2 cups steamed corn, cut off the cob
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
**This will yield about ½ to ¾ cup of corn paste. Make sure to use it all in the semifreddo ice cream

Add everything to a small pot and cook slowly on very low heat until it has thickened, then allow it to cool completely. Put the cooled mixture into your food processor until it is a smooth paste, and then pass this through a mesh sieve. You should end up with about ½ to ¾ cup of corn paste as a result of this process – it may not seem like a lot but it was just right. Set this aside, and begin to make your butterscotch toffee and butterscotch corn chips.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Toffee
1 ½ stick salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla (add into cream)
1 small bag of Frito corn chips
NOTE: If you prefer to use brown sugar, omit the 1 cup of granulated sugar and ½ cup corn syrup and use 1 ½ cups brown sugar instead.

This recipe will be used to make both the brittle toffee that will be used to coat the corn chips and the soft toffee that will be used to swirl into the ice cream. It is good to have someone working with you because once the toffee is ready your helper can toss the toffee over your corn chips while you continue making the soft caramel for the ice cream.

Put a little oil on a paper towel and rub the inside of a small bowl, then place the corn chips in it. This will prevent the toffee from sticking to the bowl. Next, do the same for any utensils you will be using to toss the corn chips.

When making any kind of toffee, always use a wooden spoon to stir, never use a metal spoon. Put the butter into a small pot and melt along with the sugar and corn syrup. You will cook this until it has reached a hard crack stage. Once it has, you will only add in ¼ cup of cream (4 tablespoons). Be careful, as the sugar mixture does bubble up when the cream is added. Continue stirring gently to prevent it from seizing up on you. Once the cream has been incorporated, return the caramel to the low heat and allow it to come back to the hard crack stage, it will only take a minute or so and is important to do or the moisture will not evaporate out of the toffee and will leave you with soggy corn chips. Once the temperature is back up, pour half of this mixture over your corn chips. Have your helpers take over and toss the caramel over the corn chips, coating them all well. Once coated, pour them out onto a parchment lined sheet, separate them into clusters and allow them to cool. Click here for more directions and photos.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

The remainder of the caramel still in the pot goes back over low heat, and you will add the other ¼ cup of cream, continually stirring until it has all melted. The low heat is not to further cook the caramel, only to melt it. Be careful when adding the cream, as it will bubble up slightly. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until all of the cream has been incorporated into the toffee. Set this aside to cool completely before beginning to make the semifreddo.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Semifreddo Base
6 yolks
¼ cup powdered sugar (add in to yolks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar

First, add the cream and the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and whip until the cream is firm. Put the whipped cream into a small bowl and refrigerate.  Place your yolks into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the other 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and whip this together over a double boiler with slowly simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water or it will cook the yolks. Whip this mixture for approximately 5- 10 minutes until it begins to lighten in color and takes on a little volume. Feel the temperature of the yolks by putting your finger into the whipped mixture — they should be very warm but NOT hot.

At this point, remove the bowl from the double boiler and put it on your machine to whip with the whisk attachment until it is pale yellow and cool. Once it has cooled, add in the corn paste and whisk until it has all incorporated into the yolks.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Lastly, fold in the whipped cream (in 2 additions) along with the vanilla until you have a uniform ice cream.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Put half of this mixture into your storage container and drizzle over some of your cooled toffee.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Put the other half of the ice cream on top of this and add more of the toffee. Next take a knife and swirl it all together, then cover and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Caramel Corn Ice Cream, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

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