Roasted cinnamon ice cream

This summer, I discovered that I am seriously crazy for homemade ice cream.

I never really enjoyed homemade ice cream very much. It was either too soupy (right out of the ice cream maker) or rock-hard (after freezing it). I kept our ice-cream maker in the basement, thinking that it would be a novelty for the girls, but we forgot about it most of the time. Anyway, I figured, with so many great ice creams at the supermarket, why go through all the trouble?

Cinnamon ice cream.

Then I read about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. My favorite cooking blog had been raving for several months about the extraordinary flavors and incredible texture of Jeni’s Ice Creams. Located in Ohio, I wasn’t about to get there soon, but when her book came out, I thought I’d give it a try. And am I glad I did!

I started off with testing the Salty Caramel Ice Cream. Making homemade caramel is always a little daunting, so I asked Jon for some time to do this as a special Mother’s Day treat back in May. The instructions were really clear, and the results were impressive! Jeni’s basic recipe is distinctive in that it there are no eggs, no custard-making. Instead, she uses cornstarch to thicken it and a dab of cream cheese to make it scoopable. Jeni goes into all the chemical reasons behind her choices in the book, but suffice to say: the texture is perfect. And the only special equipment needed is a basic canister ice cream maker, which runs about $40-50.

The thing that has really turned me into a homemade-ice-cream aficionado is the incredible flavors Jeni comes up with. The Salty Caramel is amazing. We’ve also tried Buckeye (honeyed peanut ice cream with dark chocolate), the Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World, Bourbon Ice Cream with Toasted Buttered Pecans (which, in my opinion, had a little too much bourbon), and Banana Ice Cream. This week, I decided to experiment with a flavor inspired by an ice cream recipe in my favorite baking cookbook, In the Sweet Kitchen. I expect it to be perfect with pie, but I’ve already decided that it is amazing on its own!

Roasted Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons best-quality ground cinnamon

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 small, dry, non-stick skillet over low heat, toast the ground cinnamon until it is warm to the touch and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Keep the spice moving, either by shaking the pan or stirring, to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mix with 1-2 tablespoons of milk to form a paste. Set aside.

In a large 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon sticks. Bring the milk mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the cinnamon paste.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cinnamon sticks. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister (the best way is to snip off one of the bottom corners of the ziploc bag and squeeze) and spin until thick and creamy (about 25 minutes). Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

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