kettlecorn ice cream

popcorn ice cream

um, why did i wait until the end of summer to get the ice cream cookbook du jour?  (du summer?  du l'été?  sorry aunt k.) 

let me just say, better late than never.  i got my mom on the bandwagon too, and she's the real homemade ice cream artisan in the family. 

everyone in foodie blog land loves this cookbook.  jeni's flavor combinations are really amazing: sweet corn & black raspberry; basil & honeyed pine nuts; cucumber, honeydew & cayenne.  i seriously considered just working my way through the damn thing: one ice cream a week!  for a year!  then i remembered my thighs.  hi friends.  we don't really need that much for reals ice cream around, right?

but the best thing about the cookbook is the basic ice cream recipe.  the recipe is, SERIOUSLY, a revelation.  especially for dorks like me who tend to produce scrambled eggs instead of ice cream custard no matter how much tempering and whisking occurs.  

pre-jeni, the land of homemade ice cream was a choice of philadelphia-style cream and sugar ice cream or the richer french egg-based custards.  jeni has use science, SCIENCE! to move us beyond this.  the secret ingredients are cream cheese, corn starch, and corn syrup.

sounds weird, i know.

but, the result?  the ice cream really is creamer and smoother than most ice creams i've made, and lasted longer in the freeze. 


if you buy jeni's cookbook . . . which you should if you ever plan to make homemade ice cream . . . she has a long, interesting explanation of why her recipe version works.  the short version is that it balanced the water, fat, protein and air to make ice cream taste like the best thing you've ever put in your mouth.  not gritty.  not cloying.  just right.

kettlecorn isn't actually a flavor from jeni's ice cream book.  it was inspired by a recipe for popcorn ice cream that i've been dreaming about for a month. 

we're big popcorn fans around my house.  you can usually tell whether the somm is home or not by the level of popcorn detritus on the floor. 

sweeping: one of my favorite household tasks.  if only i'd do it with any regularity. 

isn't kettlecorn the best type of popcorn?  sweet and salty and buttery.  this ice cream does all of those things.


did you know you can pop popcorn in a brown lunch bag?  for reals.  turns out, there is nothing magical about the orville redenbacher bag, no matter what criss angel says.

pop some up, melt it into your warm ice cream base to infuse it with popcorn goodness.  proceed with your ice cream recipe, but amp up the salt. 


sprinkle some more sea salt on top (maybe that fancy flowerpetal sea salt you picked up in spain?  yes?  no, you don't keep that on hand?) and you'll have the sweet-salty goodness of kettlecorn, but with the creamy-cold goodness of ice cream.


mmm.  stay tuned because the ice cream flavor that is next up is goat cheese and drunken figs courtesy of my momma.

Kettlecorn Ice Cream

Using Jeni's recipe & Inspired by Dash & Bella's Popcorn Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/4 heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 cups air popped popcorn (about 1/4 cup unpopped) without salt or oil

WARNING: you need approximately 15 large bowls and various other accoutrement.  This recipe relies on mise-en-place.  I hope you have a dishwasher.  Trust me, it's worth it.  Also, you need an ice cream maker.  They aren't that expensive.  I have a Cuisinart that's about 4 years old and it's fantastic. 

To pop your popcorn, put 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, fold over the top several times and microwave for a few minutes, listening for the popping to stop.  Put the popcorn into a large bowl.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.

In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth.

In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Don't let it scald! 

Take the warm mixture off the heat, and add  it to the popcorn gradually.  Stir until the popcorn mostly melts.  I didn't get it to totally melt.  Strain the mixture back into the pan, pressing on the popcorn solids to get all the liquid out.

Gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Turn off the heat, and slowly whisk the cream cheese mixture into the milk until it's smooth.  Pour your ice cream base into a big plastic ziploc bag and seal.  Set the bag into the ice water and chill for about an hour, adding ice if you need to to get it nice and cold. 

Follow your ice cream maker's instructions to freeze, then cure your ice cream in the freezer until firm.

1 thought on “kettlecorn ice cream

  1. Well said. I never thought I would accept this opinion, but I’m starting to see things from a different point of view. I have to study more on this as it seems very interesting. One thing I don’t understand though is how everything is related together.

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