Is it too early in the year to think about ice cream? Does it have a season? I don’t know. I lose any ice cream cravings beginning with the first crisp fall day and continuing through the winter holidays, but they return once the weather starts to get a little warmer. This year it started early, and I blame the unseasonably warm temperatures we keep having here in my part of the world. I also blame the ice cream maker Mr. Table just purchased for Valentine’s Day. Now, I know what you’re thinking. An ice cream maker? For *gasp* Valentine’s Day? Why didn’t she beat him over the head with it? Well, people, I’ll tell you why. First, it would hurt; ice cream makers are strangely heavy. But also, because I think there’s nothing quite as nice as a thoughtful gift. I had been musing over getting this for months and suddenly, there it was.
Now, I’m still a little nervous about the ins and outs of this thing. It’s the KitchenAid stand mixer attachment one, and it’s supposed to be good, but I can mess up just about anything, even highly-rated things. So in the meantime, I decided to try a no-ice-cream-maker-needed ice cream to satisfy my urge for frozen treats.
Enter the sweet corn cereal milk ice cream pie.
It has everything I want: corn cookie crust (and let me just express how many of those I’ll be making/freezing for “emergencies”), sweet corn cereal milk (made from my favorite guilty pleasure, Cap’n Crunch cereal), and ice cream that’s not even ice cream. It’s faux ice cream you can make using nothing but a mixer and a bowl. In short, it’s perfection.
The big prep work here is honestly those corn cookies, because you have to make a batch of those to make the crust. Honestly, saving the 4 cookies you’ll need for the crust is infinitely more difficult than making the actual cookies, trust me.
Then you’ll have the cereal milk part, which you’ll also have to do ahead of time. And, um, that couldn’t be easier. If you have ever made any of the Momofuku cereal milks before, you know it’s a simple crush/toast/steep/strain/whisk/done. And for the sweet corn cereal milk, you don’t even have to toast the cereal first. You’ll have plenty left over for drinking, which is a huge bonus considering the cereal milk a) goes SO well with the corn cookies you’ll be snacking on and b) is, in my opinion, much better than the normal cornflake cereal milk version.
And making the “ice cream” filling? It’s like nothing. Takes no time at all. You whip everything together, pour it into your pie crust (or crusts, plural, if you’re me and like mini-things), and freeze for a few hours.
As was the case with the corn cookies, I need better words to explain how this tastes. It’s mind-blowingly similar to Cap’n Crunch with milk, which in fact, it is. Only there’s so much more to it, like this big huge wave of flavor. There’s so much depth here in just the filling, even without the corn crust, you’ll seriously flip. And you’ll think about why this works. And people: it really, really works.
Do a few of your corn cookies a favor and sacrifice them in honor of this pie. If they had lips and vocal chords, they would thank you.
A note on the crust: as you can see, I made several mini pies. I have individual tart pans, and the amount of crust listed below will work for one normal-size pie or approximately 3 small tart-pan pies (and will leave you with plenty of leftover ice cream for snacking.) If you would like to maximize your filling, I’d make a double batch of corn crust (so reserve 8 cookies from your batch instead of 4) and you should get 6 mini-pies with a little ice cream left over.
Adapted from, yes, my beloved Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi.
Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie
for the cereal milk base:
- 2 1/2 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal
- 3 3/4 cups cold whole milk
- 2 tablespoons tightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
for the crust:
- 3-4 corn cookies (I used 4)
- 2 tablespoons butter
for the ice cream filling:
- 1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch cereal
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons freeze-dried corn powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sweet corn cereal milk (1/3 of a recipe), recipe to follow
- 1 egg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream (use full-fat, not the light version, please)
and away we go…
the cereal milk.
Take your measured cereal and crunch it with your hands until it resembles loose gravel. Place in a good-sized bowl or pitcher and pour milk over the cereal. Give it a good stir, and let it steep at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a medium bowl. The milk will drain off quickly at first, then become thicker and starchy toward the end of the straining process. Using the back of a ladle, wring the milk out of the cereal, pushing gently to make sure you get as much of it as you can.
Whisk in the brown sugar and salt into the milk until it is fully dissolved. Store in a clean pitcher or glass milk jug, refrigerated, for up to one week.
now for the crust:
Easy peasy. Put the corn cookies in the food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookies are crumbled into a bright yellow sand. If you don’t have a food processor, crumble the corn cookies with your hands into a bowl. Make sure to get them really crumbled and even.
In a bowl, knead the butter and ground cookie mixture by hand until it is most enough to form a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional tablespoon of butter and knead it in.
Using your fingers and the palms of your hands (it’s the best way, trust me) press the corn cookie crust firmly into either a 9- or 10-inch pie plate OR as many mini-pie or mini-tart molds as you have crust for. make sure the bottom and walls of the pie plate are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic, the crust can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.
Grind the Cap’n Crunch to a powder in a food processor.
Transfer the cereal powder to a large saucepan and add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn powder, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk the cereal milk and egg in a slow, steady stream, whisking until the mixture is clump-free.
Put the saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk casually but consistently, watching for the mixture to bubble and thicken, until it has the texture of a pudding or pastry cream, about 3-5 minutes. Remember: pudding gets thicker when cooled, so don’t overdo this step, because you’ll have gummy filling. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and transfer it to the fridge to cool for 1 hour (you don’t want the mixture to firm up completely.)
Combine the heavy cream and sour cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip to soft peaks that hold a shape, but just barely. Do not overwhip.
Grab the bowl of slightly cooled corn pudding mixture and whisk it into the whipped cream, mixing it for 30-45 seconds, until it is completely incorporated. And hey, you deserve it, so go ahead and taste-test at this point. You know…just to make sure it’s delicious.
big finale: the pour!
Use a spatula and stir your filling a few times just to make sure there’s no errant streaks of unincorporated corn pudding. Spatula that crazy filling into the pie shell (or shells) and smooth out the top of any and all pies you are making. Tap against the surface of the counter to do the final even-out. Freeze for at least 3 hours or until filling is frozen and hard enough to cut and serve. If you’re not going to eat them at the 3-hour mark, wrap the pie(s) tightly in plastic and keep in your freezer for up to 2 weeks.