Corn Ice Cream with Berry Crumble Swirl

published Jul 12, 2022
Corn Ice Cream with Berry Crumble Swirl Recipe
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corn berry ice cream in a pint
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Greg Lofts

When I think about summer, two things immediately come to mind: cold, refreshing treats and peak summer produce. In this recipe, I combined the two to create one super-summery ice cream inspired by my home state of New Jersey.

I grew up in a small town in New Jersey that’s surrounded by lots of farms and farm stands. Because of that, throughout the summer you can always find ripe tomatoes, the juiciest stone fruits, and places to pick your own berries, cherries, and everything in between. I look forward to seeing the colorful variety of fruits and vegetables pop up every year, and while it’s so hard to pick a favorite, if I had to choose it would be peak-season Jersey corn. 

Peak-season corn is juicy, flavorful, and super versatile — a perfect food, really. It’s delicious just boiled and eaten off the cob or grilled and slathered in salted butter. It works well in salsas and salads and can provide a fresh pop in pasta or rice-based dishes. And those are just some savory uses. Fresh, sweet corn is also a fun ingredient to play around in summer desserts, like this corn ice cream.

Corn and a variety of berries — some of my favorite summer produce — are often in abundance in New Jersey starting in late May with strawberry season and followed closely by blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, and corn season through August. This recipe makes use of all of it. Sweet corn is first cooked briefly to further develop its flavor and then turned into a purée. The purée is used to flavor a no-churn ice cream base that gets a tangy berry swirl made from a variety of ripe summer berries and is flecked with chunks of buttery shortbread cookies to create a perfectly sweetened, creamy corn ice cream.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Greg Lofts

How to Make Corn Ice Cream

There are three main steps when making this ice cream: making the berry swirl mixture, making the ice cream base, and assembling and freezing the ice cream. While this ice cream does take a bit more work than a plain vanilla no-churn ice cream, it can easily be broken up over a couple of days. 

  • Make the berry swirl. Bring a variety of mixed berries to a boil with sugar and salt and cook until the berries are broken down, thickened, and jammy. Add lemon zest and juice to the berry mixture, strain, and cool it. 
  • Make the ice cream base. Sauté corn in butter with sugar and salt until tender. Purée the corn with heavy cream, strain the mixture to yield a thick corn purée, and cool it. Although the corn purée may take a bit of elbow grease, it’s the best way to make sure the ice cream has a delightfully corny flavor. Stir the cooled purée with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and more salt. Fold whipped cream into the corn mixture to make the ice cream base and then fold in chopped shortbread.
  • Put it all together. Spoon half of the ice cream base into a cold loaf pan and swirl half of the berry mixture into it. Spoon the rest of the ice cream base on top and swirl the rest of the berry mixture in. Layering it like this ensures that every scoop has the berry swirl running through it. Freeze the pan until the ice cream is solid but still scoopable. 

If You Make Corn Ice Cream, a Few Tips

  • Frozen works fine. If you can’t get your hands on fresh corn and berries, frozen fruit and veggies will work, too. (This is also a good reminder that you can make this recipe when summer is just a distant memory.)
  • Do a freezer check. Before you start cooking, make some room in the freezer for the pan.
  • Plan ahead. The ice cream can be made in stages over two days. Make the berry mixture and corn purée a day in advance and then finish assembling the ice cream and freeze it the next day. 
  • Check out the cookie aisle. No need to make your own shortbread; store-bought cookies work perfectly here!

Corn Ice Cream with Berry Crumble Swirl Recipe

Prep time 45 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes about 2 quarts

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the berry swirl:

  • 5 ounces

    fresh or frozen mixed berries

  • 3 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • Pinch

    kosher salt

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

For the ice cream base:

  • 6 to 8 ears

    fresh corn, or 5 cups (24 ounces) frozen corn kernels

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2 cups

    cold heavy cream, divided

  • 3 to 4 ounces

    shortbread cookies, such as Lorna Doone (12) or Walkers (4 1/2)

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place a 9x5-inch loaf pan in a level spot in the freezer.

Make the berry swirl mixture:

  1. Trim and cut 5 ounces fresh or frozen berries into similar-sized pieces (about 1 cup). Place in a small saucepan, add 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and a pinch of kosher salt, and stir to combine.

  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, mashing the berries with the back of a fork as they soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often and making sure to scrape down the sides, until thickened, jammy, and the mixture can hold a line for a few seconds if the spatula is dragged across the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  3. Finely grate the zest of 1/2 medium lemon until you have 1/4 teaspoon zest. Juice the lemon until you have 1 tablespoon juice. Add the zest and juice to the berries and stir to combine.

  4. Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Strain the mixture, pressing the solids against the strainer with a rubber spatula and scraping underneath the strainer until you have between 1/4 and 1/3 cup. Refrigerate while you make the ice cream base.

Make the ice cream base:

  1. If using fresh corn, shuck 6 to 8 ears corn and remove the silks. Cut the kernels off the cobs, cutting as close to the cobs as possible to get all the flavorful liquid out of them, until you have 5 cups. Otherwise, use 5 cups frozen corn kernels (do not thaw).

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and any juices, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Stir with a rubber spatula until the corn is coated in the butter. Cover and cook until the kernels are fragrant and tender, stirring halfway through, about 7 minutes total.

  3. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 1/4 cup of the cold heavy cream and process into a purée with a texture similar to applesauce, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 1 minute.

  4. Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Working in batches if needed, pour the corn purée into the strainer and use a rubber spatula to really press it through, making sure to scrape underneath the strainer until you have 1 2/3 to 1 3/4 cups purée. This will take some time and a little bit of elbow grease. Refrigerate until cooled to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop about 3 to 4 ounces shortbread cookies into rough 1/4-inch pieces until you have 1 cup.

  5. Add 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the corn purée and stir until combined.

  6. Pour the remaining 1 3/4 cups cold heavy cream into a medium bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not over whip. (Alternatively, whip by hand with a whisk or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed.)

  7. Add half of the whipped cream to the corn mixture. Gently but quickly fold together until combined, a few streaks of the corn mixture or whipped cream are okay. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold until just combined with no streaks remaining. Add the shortbread cookies and fold until evenly distributed.

  8. Spoon 1/2 of the ice cream base into the loaf pan and spread into an even layer. Drop 1/2 of the berry mixture by the teaspoonful over the corn mixture, it should look like polka dots. Use a skewer or the tip of a small offset spatula to swirl the berry mixture through the corn mixture. Spoon the remaining ice cream base into the pan and repeat dropping in the remaining berry mixture and swirling.

  9. Freeze uncovered until the top is solid, about 2 hours. Place a sheet of wax or parchment paper directly onto the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until the ice cream is solid, but scoopable, about 4 hours more.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The berry mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Give it a good stir before using. The corn purée can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: The ice cream can be frozen for up to 2 weeks tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. For extra protection against freezer burn, wrap the whole loaf pan in aluminum foil. Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to soften before serving.