Things pop out at me, now. The way the air is beginning to cool earlier. The late summer prune plums at the market, heralding the almost onset of fall. The apples, at the market too. I want to tell the farmer it is too early for them, but who am I to argue with nature? August is going, going, almost gone.
But I can’t let summer pass me by without making ice cream, at least once. The cream bubbling on the stove, the custard thickening, the slow rumble of churning which means a few fresh quarts of ice cream in the freezer, soon. It’s a fine way to begin summer, and maybe an even better way to end it.
This ice cream is full of August. Pale, creamy yellow, colored by corn so fresh and sweet I ate some of it raw, straight off the cob. Swirled through with a bay leaf scented, fresh berry jam. Tart ribbons of it, purple, temper the sweetness of the corn, the rich, sour cream enhanced custard.
It tastes like the height of the solstice. It tastes like the vanilla you know and love and teases a corn field ripe under a blue sky. It tastes like it should go on top of pie. And you’re not wrong. It should.
Ice cream. Pie. Try to get away, August. It’ll be harder than you think.
Yields: 1 quart
Lightly adapted from the New York Times
Why I love this recipe: fresh corn cobs and kernels are steeped in the custard mixture, and the cobs are then pureed into the custard, imparting the deepest sweet corn flavor to this ice cream. Sour cream adds extra richness and helps temper the sweetness, and a tart, blueberry, raspberry, bay leaf infused jam is swirled into the freshly churned ice cream, adding bursts of fruity tart August flavor.
Notes: taste your corn before you use it! It should be juicy and very sweet. If it isn’t, it won’t taste good in the corn. Let your fruit jam cool completely before you swirl it into the ice cream, so the ice cream stays mostly yellow. I didn’t and mine got pretty purple. Learn from my mistakes!
For the ice cream:
- 4 ears fresh corn, shucked
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the berry bay leaf swirl:
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups mixture of blueberries and raspberries
- Using a large knife, slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place in a large saucepan. Break cobs in half and add to pot along with milk, cream and 1/2 cup of the sugar.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stirring all the while, then remove from heat. Let stand to infuse for 1 hour, then discard corn cobs.
- Using a blender, purée kernel mixture until it is as smooth and uniform as possible. Return mixture to a simmer, then turn off heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, the salt and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add a cup of hot cream mixture to yolks, stirring constantly so they don’t curdle. Add yolk mixture to saucepan, stirring.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat the spoon and is just beginning to bubble, about 10 minutes.
- Pass custard through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids. Discard solids. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Let custard cool in an ice bath, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the bay leaves and the berries. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit falls apart and begins bubble and thicken, around ten minutes. Let cool, then discard bay leaves.
- Freeze the chilled corn custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to a freezer-safe dish and before inserting into the freezer, swirl the cooled berry jam into the ice cream, using a spoon, spatula or toothpick. Freeze until firm. Serve with pie or with fresh berries.