Caramel and Popcorn flavoured, salty, delightfully creamy, Kettle Corn Ice Cream – perfect movie night snack for those times when you can’t decide between popcorn and ice cream!
It’s going to be all but a dot on the horizon, before long. And then that too will wink out. I’m talking about summer of course! I’ve done quite a few ice cream recipes over the last few months, so I’m not really sure why I waited this long to unleash this one. But wait, that’s not really true. I do know why. Because when it comes to ice cream, I can’t help myself. I need that stuff. Whatever time of year, whatever weather outside, give me some ice cream, popsicles, sorbets… and I’ll be fine! I always make my own ice cream, or just buy vanilla and then dress it up any way I want to. I wish I could tell you that this is the last ice cream post for the summer, but why even bother making promises that I know I am unlikely to keep?
As much as I would LOVE to have popcorn at the movies, I can’t eat too much of it, because it seems to be on permanently bad terms with my stomach. Instead I usually go for some chocolate or an ice cream at the movies. When I saw Momofukus popcorn cake and how they infused popcorn in their milk, I knew I had to have it some day! But that was MANY years ago, and I’m yet to realize that dream.
I’ve seen a lot of food bloggers make popcorn ice cream for a long time now and I’ve been wanting to try it badly too. And what better way to compensate for my digestive system’s petty disagreements with popcorn! So kettle corn being my favourite, I decided to infuse that salty-sweet flavour in this ice cream along with the popcorn flavour!
Here I use 1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels (that’s about 6 cups of popped popcorn). It may sound like a lot, but I wasn’t messing around here. I REALLY wanted a bold popcorn flavour to come through. And remember popcorn shrinks a lot when they are soaked, so even though it may sound like a lot, it actually isn’t.
While kettle corn is usually covered in lightly caramelized sugar, that’s never going to translate to a decent caramel flavour in the ice cream, because it will get diluted in that creamy base. So here I heated the sugar until most of it melts and caramelizes and achieves a nice dark golden/amber colour.
The final result will only have a slight caramel colour (just like kettle corn), but that beautiful caramel flavour will be very prominent! So that’s why you need to caramelize the sugar longer (for a darker colour) than you would for regular kettle corn. And of course it needs a little bit of salt in there too. That’s what kettle corn is all about after all. That awesome salty sweet flavour profile. If you’re not a big fan of the salty aspect of it though, you’re welcome to reduce the amount of salt you add. But you do need at least a pinch of it though. Salt gives life to the sweetness in desserts, especially with flavours like chocolate and caramel.
Kettle Corn Ice Cream (Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream)
For the Ice Cream
- 6.3 oz / 180g white sugar
- 2 ½ cups of half n half or full cream milk
- 2 cups of whipping cream pouring cream
- ½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels that's about 6 cups of popped popcorn
- 1 ½ tsp salt flakes like Maldon
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 tsp of cornflour to stabilize the eggs - optional
For the caramel popcorn (for the topping)
- 3 tbsp unpopped popcorn kernels
- ⅓ cup white sugar
For the Ice Cream
- Heat the 2 1/2 cups of half n half till it’s warm to the touch. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, sprinkle the sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan and heat it over medium-heat. Keep your eye on the sugar as it starts to caramelize. Shake the pan well as the sugar caramelizes to spread the sugar crystals to make sure none of it burns. When most of the sugar has turned a deep golden/amber colour, add the warm half n half and salt flakes and heat the mixture, stirring frequently to make sure all of the sugar melts. This will take a few minutes as the sugar hardens on the bottom of the saucepan.
- Add the 6 cups of freshly popped popcorn and stir to combine. Transfer to a jug/container and store the milk overnight in the fridge - can be stored this way up to 24 hours.
- The following day, strain the milk mixture through a fine sieve, and squeeze out as much of the liquid out of the popcorn. Discard the popcorn.
- Return the mix to a saucepan and heat it until it starts to steam. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and cornflour until frothy. When the milk mixture is steaming, add about ½ cup of the steaming milk into the egg yolk mix in a slow steady stream while whisking (tempering the yolk mix). Add the yolk mix back into the rest of the milk and stir frequently until the whole mixture thickens. The cornflour will help reduce the risk of the eggs curdling at this point. However, make sure you keep whisking to prevent the eggs scrambling. Once the custard has thickened to a point where it thickly coats the back of a spoon, run this mix through a sieve to remove any lumps.
- Whisk in the 2 cups of whipping cream into the custard, and let it cool down to room temperature. Cover and chill until the mix is very cold (overnight in the fridge or about 3 hours in the freezer).
- Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions, and transfer the ice cream to a container.
- Let it set in the freezer for a few hours until it has set. Serve with some caramel popcorn and chocolate fudge sauce.
- Pop the popcorn in a saucepan with a dash of oil. Place them in a lightly oiled large metal bowl.
- Sprinkle the sugar in a non stick pan evenly on the bottom. Heat over medium-heat until the sugar caramelizes completely. Pour it over the popped popcorn and use two wooden spoons to mix the caramel well with the popcorn. The caramel will make the popcorn stick together so let it cool down to room temp and then break them apart. Store in an airtight container.
So what’s the verdict? Maaaaan! Where do I even begin?!? 😀 This stuff is seriously addictive. It’s insanely creamy. The starch in the popcorn contributes to the thickening of the custard, so it makes this ice cream even creamier. The popcorn flavour is pronounced but not at all overwhelming, and the subtle caramel flavour brilliantly complements it. You also get that lovely salty edge in this ice cream, so rest assured that there’s going to be a lot of delicious flavours swirling around in your mouth when you eat this. I cannot tell you just how much I wanted to get my face in there and just clean it up. The hubs stood in my way unfortunately!
For variations – You can reduce the amount of salt in this recipe and make it a caramel popcorn ice cream. Or not caramelize the sugar at all for regular popcorn flavoured ice cream. And if you like butter popcorn, consider adding 4 tbsp of butter into the milk when you make the custard. You’re going to love it either way! 🙂
And for serving suggestions – How about some caramel popcorn for crunch and some hot chocolate fudge sauce on top? Or maybe some M&Ms or any other kind of candy you like swirled through the ice cream? Either way, I cannot think of a better snack for movie night! Oh wait! Yes I can. Yes I can indeed! BUT you’re going to have to wait till next week to find out! 😀
I had other plans for this ice cream the first time I made it, but we ate too much of it in one go, before I realized we didn’t have enough to do anything else with it. So I made it again. And again. You’re going to find out what else I did with this ice cream next week, and then I think you might agree with me that making that extra batch was a good call. A very good call indeed! 🙂
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