I know everyone is jumping into Back to School season with both feet but I’m not done with summer. As long as heat warnings remain a constant in my life so too shall ice cream. So while it’s usually best to stay ahead of the curve in the content creation game, autumn is a curve I don’t mind being behind. Even when I’m suffering from heatstroke or sporting a particularly painful sunburn, you won’t find me wishing the summer away. And why should I? There’s still plenty of summer left in this calendar year. So let’s make this Blueberry Cornbread Ice Cream while the sun shines – the pumpkins can wait.
Have you ever had a corn muffin? Have you ever had a corn muffin with blueberries? It’s life-changing. I’m not entirely sure why, but blueberries and cornmeal anything just go together. I won’t venture to speculate on the reason behind or source of this magic. Some magical things aren’t meant to be understood. But what I will say is if you have not experienced this pairing, I strongly urge you to do so. I do think today’s Blueberry Cornbread Ice Cream provides an excellent introduction but I am biased.
Blueberries and cornbread belong to each other, so much so that I wonder why I don’t see the two together more often. While the pairing is a little too common to be offbeat, it is rare enough that I get excited when I see it. Personally, I think the scarcity of this combo is downright criminal. And while my blog has only a limited reach, I want to be part of the solution. Hence the blueberry cornbread ice cream.
I live by very few rules in my life because, in my experience, existence lacks structure and without structure, rules are very hard to follow. Why set yourself up for failure? But I do have one golden rule – make the ice cream you want to see in the world. You have the power. The next time you’re in an ice cream parlor and find yourself wishing for a particular flavor, make a note and be the change. Trust me, if you have a solid vanilla ice cream recipe in your repertoire you can turn that into any flavor your heart desires.
So let’s talk about how I made my dreams come true. This Blueberry Cornbread Ice Cream started life as a vanilla ice cream base, which is basically a thin custard. You can churn an ice cream base the same day you make it but I prefer to chill mine in the fridge overnight first. Churning the base the same day you make it requires an ice bath and I’m not about that life. As a person who has a taste for cocktails and doesn’t own a fridge that generates ice, I’m not about to blow through my supply. Plus, not rushing the base through its chilling phase, leaves you with plenty of time to make the cornbread.
Now, the cornbread component of this ice cream is just a straightforward cornbread. You could get fancy with brown butter or real kernels of corn but honestly, this isn’t the place for it. Such flourishes will get lost in an ice cream that has so much going on. So I suggest a plain Jane approach. It will save you time and it will taste great. Best not overthink it.
Once the cornbread is baked, it has to cool completely before you can cut it into cubes. And before you can introduce the cubes to freshly churned ice cream, they have to be good and cold. So yeah, getting your cornbread ice-cream-ready takes a little time.
The recipe below makes a half batch of a regular-sized cornbread. Even though the recipe is scaled back considerably, you will have more cornbread than you’ll need. A pint of vanilla ice cream can only really accommodate a cup’s worth of mix-ins. If you add too much cornbread to your ice cream it will dominate. And if you add too little, people will wonder why you’ve included “cornbread” in the ice cream’s title. Stick with a heaping cup of cornbread and make sure to freeze the chunks first. This will keep the cornbread cubes relatively intact when they’re churned into the ice cream.
With the cornbread and ice cream base taken care of, it’s time to talk blueberries. The blueberry swirl in this ice cream is essentially a blueberry pie filling. It consists of blueberries stewed with sugar and a hint of lemon juice thickened with a cornstarch slurry. As the ingredients would suggest, the blueberry swirl conjures memories of blueberry pie. And like the pie, the swirl is a fitting companion for vanilla ice cream. Once the blueberry swirl is cooked up, it’s time to pop it in the fridge and chill it down as well. You want everything to be good and cold when you assemble the final ice cream.
And speaking of good and cold, make sure you chill down the vessel that will hold the ice cream. Freshly churned ice cream melts very quickly, so the last thing you want to do is help it along with a room temperature container. Once everything is chilled down and your ice cream is in its last 10 minutes of churning, it’s time to start adding the cornbread. Add a few cubes at a time and wait for each addition to become fully integrated before adding more.
Once the cornbread is crammed into the ice cream, it’s time to ripple. Scoop half of the ice cream into your chilled vessel and dot half of the blueberry mixture on top. Add the remaining ice cream and dot the surface with the remaining blueberry mixture and give the whole mess a good swirl. Just remember to swirl with restraint. You don’t want the blueberry mixture to be fully integrated. From there, it’s as easy as covering the ice cream and freezing it overnight.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Blueberry Cornbread Ice Cream. And if this particular combo isn’t doing it for you, keep the method and swap out the mix-ins. You could replace the cornbread with brownies and blueberries with cherries and make a black forest situation. Or opt for blondies and apples and do an apple brown betty ice cream. The potential flavor combinations are endless. So have fun and, again, make the ice cream you want to see in the world.
Blueberry Cornbread Ice Cream
- Ice Cream Maker
- 8×8 baking pan
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 1 ½ cups milk I used 2%
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¾ cup milk I used 2%
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ medium or fine ground cornmeal
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 3 tbsp honey
- 200g (7oz) blueberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 lemon juiced
For the Ice Cream
- Pour the milk in a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Heat until steam gathers on the surface of the milk and it feels like hot bath water to the touch. Don’t let the milk boil.
- While the milk is heating up, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Once integrated, slowly whisk in a couple of ladlesful of the hot milk to temper the eggs. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat until thick enough to readily coat the back of a spoon.
- Take the pan off of the heat and pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the Cornbread
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.
- Whisk to combine the milk and lemon juice. Set aside to curdle.
- In a large bowl whisk to combine the cornmeal, the whole wheat and white flour, the baking soda and powder, and the salt. Set aside.
- Pour the curdled milk into a medium-sized bowl and add the egg, butter, and honey. Whisk to combine and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until everything is integrated.
- Pour the finished batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the bread and removed cleanly. Let the cornbread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
- Once the cornbread is cool, cut half of it into ½ inch cubes and transfer them to a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the tray in the freezer and let the cornbread chunks freeze for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the ice cream. You can simply enjoy the remaining cornbread.
For the Blueberry Swirl
- Place the berries and sugar in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the berries lose their shape and become saucy.
- While the berries are cooking, whisk to combine the water and the cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the berries and stir until the mixture becomes thick and glossy.
- Take the berries off of the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the berries to a heatproof jar and let cool completely before transferring to the fridge to chill.
- Place an 8×8 pan in the freezer to chill.
- Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes or until it starts to resemble soft serve.
- Take the cornbread cubes out of the freezer and start adding them to the ice cream maker slowly, waiting for each addition to disappear before adding more.
- Once the cornbread is integrated, scoop half of the ice cream into the chilled 8×8 pan. Dollop the surface of the ice cream with the blueberry mixture and top with the remaining ice cream. Spoon what is left of the blueberry mixture on top and, using a butter knife, swirl the two together. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer. Let chill overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- When ready to serve, place the ice cream on the counter for 10 minutes to soften before scooping. Serve immediately.