This sweet corn gelato is a silky treat with an intriguing savory edge that gives you a delightful new reason to welcome corn season every summer!
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Summer is the season of abundance everywhere, but especially in northern countries. Every year, I cook and bake with summer produce like my life depended on it. Few things make me happier than homemade summer treats: a freshly baked batch of Wild Blueberry Financiers, a spoonful of Rosé, Strawberry, and Rhubarb Compote, or a generous slice of homemade angel food cake showered with fresh strawberries.
Summer veggies have a hold on my heart, too. I love to turn cherry tomatoes into frittata or casseroles, zucchini into salads, savory bread pudding, or even cake (!!), and corn into chowder and risotto. Corn grown in Quebec is especially sweet and I basically gorge myself with it every August. Ever since I was a young child, my family’s been holding a yearly épluchette de blé d’inde around Labor Day weekend. The get-together starts with outdoor games in the afternoon, followed by the shucking of pounds and pounds of corn, which is then boiled and devoured in record time. Hamburgers, hot dogs, an impressive array of salads, and desserts are also part of the equation. There’s always way too much food, but this is part of the fun. Nobody leaves the épluchette hungry.
Though my love runs deep for buttered corn on the cob, I also very much enjoy cooking with corn, but I had yet to use it in desserts. I’d been playing around with corn dessert for a while, but then I became obsessed with the idea of corn gelato. I heard about sweet corn ice cream a while ago, but I’d never seen it in local ice cream shops. I thought it was time to give it a shot.
I started with my favorite Sicilian-style gelato base, which I love because of its amazingly silky and relatively low-fat content. It tastes rich and indulgent but doesn’t leave you feeling guilty for eating three scoops! Inspired by a recipe in the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream cookbook, I infused the heated milk and cream with corn kernels and chopped corn cobs for maximum flavor. I fished the cobs out, then blended the mixture to as smooth a texture as I could reach. I then strained the mixture for maximum creaminess and finished the custard for churning. As usual, I let the cooked custard cool completely and then refrigerated it overnight. This extended refrigeration/resting period is what guarantees the silkiest, creamiest gelato. You can’t rush gelato—but I swear the extra wait is worth it!
This sweet corn gelato has an intriguing flavor that has you pause after your first spoonful, while your brain tries to identify that savory touch. After the second spoonful, you’re hooked.
Corn is at its sweetest in August. In Quebec, we have a bicolor corn variety that’s incredibly sweet and that’s the one I like to use when I make this sweet corn gelato.
Although this frozen treat is perfect for celebrating corn season, you can also make it with frozen corn. Frozen corn is generally packaged at their ripest, so you can be sure gelato produced with frozen corn will be delicious. Whatever you do, do not use canned corn to make this gelato. The flavor just wouldn’t be right.
As with all gelato flavors, you should start the sweet corn gelato-making process a day in advance. Both the corn puree and the gelato base need to be refrigerated to cool completely before being combined and churned together. Gelato custard must be very cold before churning: this will produce the smoothest, silkiest texture.
Always remember to bring this rhubarb gelato to room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving. That will not only make it easier to serve—gelato’s lower fat content means it freezes rock hard—but also soften it to a consistency closer to what you would enjoy at a gelati bar, waking up the flavors and giving it the luxurious texture that is so easy to fall in love with.
I love serving this sweet corn gelato garnished with a combination of salted butter popcorn and caramel popcorn. This presentation is a definite conversation starter and I think it adds a bit of whimsy to the dish, too! The sweet and savory combination pushes the flavors in the gelato even further, too. You might serving the gelato with only salted butter or caramel popcorn, depending on the occasion and whether you like your desserts on the sweeter side.
This sweet corn gelato is also delicious garnished with fresh summer fruits, such as blackberries, blueberries, or diced peaches, or topped with a lightly sweetened fruit puree.
If you like desserts that walk a fine line between sweet and savory, I strongly invite you to drizzle peppery extra-virgin olive oil over the gelato and sprinkle it with flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel. This treat is what my dreams are made of!
Never made gelato before? Curious about what makes gelato different from ice cream? Check out my detailed video class: How to Make Gelato: Tips and Recipes to Make the Delightful Italian Frozen Treat. In it, you’ll find out what makes gelato different from ice cream, how to make a versatile gelato base you can turn into a variety of flavors, and all my secrets and tips to churn and serve outstanding gelato. I even share how to make dairy-free vegan gelato! In short, it’s a very thorough, colorful class that will quickly turn you into a gelato master. Watch Now!
Love gelato? Then you need to give these creative, homemade gelato recipes a try.
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Author: Marie Asselin
I made this last week with some fresh corn from a local farm. It was absolutely delicious. I’m making it again to serve over a blueberry buckle. Thank you for a great recipe without a gazillion egg yolks.
Making this gelato at the height of corn season is the best! Happy you loved it.