As much as I love baking, the thought of turning on the oven on a 90 degree day can be very daunting. Which is why my ice cream maker gets so much love during the summer. My standard ice cream recipe is a custard base that uses a lot of egg yolks which ensures a creamy, smooth product instead of the icy slush that you get a lot with homemade ice cream. But I’m always on the hunt for better recipes. Plus separating 6+ eggs is a bit of a pain and can be wasteful since egg whites do not keep well.
Enter, cornstarch. An ingredient that was always around the kitchen when I was a kid and very commonly used to thicken sauces in Chinese cooking. It allowed me to use less heavy cream (which I suspect you could even use a base of all whole milk, but it’s cheat day–gotta live a little) and less eggs (which I suspect you could omit without issues but I am still a custard girl at heart). Surprisingly, I have never bought cornstarch in my adult life and now I feel like I’ve been depriving myself!! You’re totally missing out if you do not try this recipe. I’ve made this ice cream 2 weeks in a row for cheat day. This time around, I sandwiched it between two (or more like six) of the ultimate, best, end-all-be-all cookies. The combination of sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy, refreshing and gooey… well, what can I say? It is DEFINITELY worth turning on the oven for.
Creamy Ice Cream Base
Makes about 2 quarts
3 c of whole milk, set 2 tbsp aside
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
4 oz cream cheese
*Special Equipment: Ice cream maker with at least 2 quart capacity, if not a self freezing model, place bowl in the freezer 24 hours ahead of churning time
1. In a bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp milk and cornstarch. Place egg yolk in a separate bowl. Whisk together heavy cream, vanilla extract, salt, and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.
2. Pour remaining milk and sugar into a large saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, heat until sugar is dissolved and milk has started to steam but not boil. Remove from heat.
3. Very slowly drizzle about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to gently warm the eggs without scrambling them. After the eggs have been tempered, add them to the saucepan and continue whisking, making sure to scrape the sides and the bottoms of the pan.
4. Place the saucepan back on medium heat. Add the cornstarch slurry. Continue whisking the mixture until it has reached a temperature of 175 degrees F or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Pour the milk mixture over the heavy cream mixture and whisk until combined. The cold heavy cream will cool the mixture slightly but you can put it on an ice bath to speed up the process. I just let it cool on the counter for 1/2 an hour and then place some plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream mixture to avoid a skin from forming. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
6. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions. I churn mine for about 25 minutes and then I place it in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream and freeze for 4 hours.