The only sensible response to beat the heat is ice cream.
I recently tried corn ice cream and immediately began imagining a way to bring this quintessential double dose of summer flavor to a backyard get-together.
It's more ice milk than ice cream, with corn-infused flavor so intense it reverberates. It also is slightly grainy and salt-forward on the tongue. Corn is a grain, after all.
But salty-sweet corn ice cream is a bit unexpected, and that strong salt finish is delightful. I would serve it on its own anytime. Sandwiching it between small crispy corn waffles takes the sweet treat over the top.
My iron, a classic American waffler, divides round waffles into five slim and crackly heart-shaped sections. If your waffle maker doesn't create convenient shapes, use kitchen scissors or a 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutter to make small ice cream sandwich bookends.
Homemade ice cream and the waffles to put it on might seem like a lot of fuss, but it's easy to break down the recipes into discrete tasks over a couple of days. The waffles can be made a day ahead, and the ice cream can be frozen for a day or two before assembling the sandwiches. When you make this dessert in one fell swoop, cook the waffles while the ice cream churns, assembling the sandwiches with soft ice cream straight from the machine. Or if you have frozen the ice cream in advance, allow it to soften only to the point where a round, firm ball can be scooped, about 15 minutes in my kitchen.
Then again, if you aren't up to making the waffles, sandwich the ice cream between your favorite crisp cookies.
Salty Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield: 8 servings (makes 1 quart)
2 cups whole milk 3 cups fresh corn kernels sliced from 3 ears, cobs reserved 1 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Combine the milk, corn kernels and cobs in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let the corn steep in the milk for 1 hour.
Stand the cooled cobs up in the pan. Scrape a blunt knife against each one to release any remaining liquid, then discard the cobs. Transfer the milk and corn kernels to a blender; puree for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.
Wipe out the saucepan, then add the heavy cream, sugar and salt, stirring to incorporate.
Pour the pureed corn mixture through a fine-mesh strainer directly into the saucepan's cream mixture, discarding any solids. Place over medium heat; cook for 7 to 9 minutes, making sure the sugar has dissolved.
Strain through the fine-mesh strainer (again) into a storage container. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. This is your ice cream base.
Whisk the chilled base, then pour into the container of an ice cream machine. Churn according to manufacturer's directions. For a soft consistency, the ice cream can be served right away. Or transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 2 to 3 hours.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 4 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 470 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugar.
Source: Adapted from chef Alex Stupak of Empellon in New York.