Corn & Tarragon Ice Cream

I know it’s a little strange to write about corn, let alone ice cream, in December, but have you ever wanted to get a taste of summer in the middle of winter? I think this ice cream can satisfy that craving.

As a testimony to how long the growing season is out here in the Pacific Northwest, we started receiving corn in our CSA share and seeing ears of them at farmer’s markets in mid-September. Even though I love corn just roasted on the cob with butter and salt and pepper, I equally love the combination of sweet corn spiked with the licorice flavor of tarragon. It honestly makes me feel warm inside, like I’ve taken a bite out of a mild, summer day since it tastes so light and refreshing.

So with corn from the CSA and a thriving tarragon plant in the garden, I thought about what it would be like to put those flavors together in ice cream. My hope was that a custard base would be a supple, silky setting for the buttery but sweet flavors from corn and the flecks of green from the tarragon would not only look pretty in the light yellow colored ice cream but would cleanse the palate with each bite.

Yeah, it was that and so much more. To me, at least, (I couldn’t get confirmation from my fellow taster, John) this corn and tarragon ice cream perfectly captured that flavor of the magical foam that’s made when you put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a tall glass of root beer. I think it’s probably due to the anise flavor of the tarragon, mixed with the creamy custard, and the subtle sweetness from the corn. Really,  I thought that corn and tarragon is the quintessential flavor of summer but it got even more so when each bite reminded me of that perfect summer frozen treat, the root beer float. When it’s cold and dark outside, curl up in your cozy home with a dish of this ice cream for a glimpse of summer.

Note: I’m guessing at the amount of sugar here as when I made this ice cream I forgot to compensate for the natural sugars from the corn which in hindsight was pretty stupid given the whole corn “sugar” v. corn syrup debate. As you can see from the picture, this ice cream paired surprisingly well with a shot of tequila.

  • 1 ear of corn, kernels removed from cob
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1.25 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread the corn kernels out in an even layer and roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until kernels are spotted with a light brown color.

While kernels roast, add the heavy cream to a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan along with the remaining corn cob, sugar, milk, and the chopped tarragon. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the corn cob.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs then slowly whisk in half of the cream mixture. Add the egg and cream mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. It should coat a wooden spoon and you can draw a line down the middle of it with your finger. Pour this into either a 4 cup glass measuring cup or into a bowl with a spout and add the corn kernels. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally for 3-6 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions.

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