The days may be getting a little bit cooler, but that’s no excuse not to enjoy ice cream! Especially ice cream made with corn and basil, two crops that are just as happy in fall as they are in the summer months. Plus, I’ve sweetened this batch of ice cream with local honey and enriched it with egg yolks from my farmer. Ice cream doesn’t get much more seasonal than this!
Actually, if I’m going to be 100% accurate, I should be calling this Iced Corn & Basil Creme Fraîche since I used creme fraîche instead of cream — while I adore both, I opted to go with the extra-deep flavor of the cultured creme fraîche. It has a nutty/savory aspect to it thanks to those cultures, plus it’s probiotic courtesy of those cultures. A win-win! But feel free to substitute cream instead. Likewise, if you’re not such a basil fan, you can tone down on the basil. The one aspect of this recipe that you can’t skip is the cooked corn — not only would you be missing the star ingredient, raw corn would make the ice cream taste starchy instead of sweet with a faint hint of popcorn.
Corn & Basil Ice Cream
2 ears corn, shucked
About 20 large basil leaves
8 oz. creme fraîche, preferably from grass-fed cows (check out Vermont Creamery’s line of products!) OR whipping cream
1 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
4 egg yolks, definitely from pastured hens (ONLY use these if you are comfortable eating raw eggs!); if you would rather not use raw eggs, then add another 1/2 cup (4 oz.) creme fraîche or whipping cream
Fill a very large pot of water halfway with water — it needs to be big enough to accommodate the ears of corn — and get it boiling. Slide the ears into it and let simmer for 3 minutes. Immediately pull out with tongs and let cool for a few minutes so that you can handle the ears comfortably. When you can, hold one at an angle over a large cutting board and use a large, sharp knife to cut the kernels free of the ear. Flip over the ear and slice away the rest of the kernels. Repeat with other ear.
Place corn kernels and remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. (Mine has to churn away for 20 minutes before it’s ready to scoop into a container and stick in the freezer.) This recipe makes about 5 blended cups or just enough to fit into a standard ice cream maker.
Since this is minimally sweetened ice cream without any chemical thickeners, it will be pretty hard after two full days in the freezer, so just let it set out at room temp about 10 minutes before you want to scoop yourself a serving. Or plan on making it for a dinner party and serving it fresh from the ice cream maker while it still has the consistency of a soft serve. Feel free to drizzle with honey and garnish with a fresh basil leaf before serving.
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