This popcorn infused ice cream is sweet, buttery, and is just as addictive as the stuff they serve up at the movie theaters.
Hot buttery popcorn is my all time favorite snack food. Actually, sometimes it's my favorite dinner as well. A common conversation between my boyfriend and I goes something like this:
Him: What should we have for dinner?
Me: oooh lets just have popcorn
Me: why not?
Him: We can't just have popcorn for dinner every night. We have to eat real food
Me: It is real food. Its corn. But popped. So it's basically a big bowl of vegetables.
Him: Fine. You have popcorn, I'm going to make some pancakes.
So when I found a recipe for buttered popcorn ice cream I knew that my life would not be complete until in was in a bowl in front of me. Popcorn for dinner and then popcorn ice cream for dessert anyone?
I knew that I was going to change a few things in the recipe like the amount of sugar and the cream to whole milk ratio. But I was torn over what kind of popcorn to make the ice cream with. None of the recipes I found really stated whether it should be popcorn that you either oil or air popped and then add your own butter and salt. Or if it should be the microwave kind that has the butter flavoring oil added to it.
Instead of choosing one or the other I decided to play Test Kitchen and make the same recipe twice. Once with microwave popped popcorn which contains the butter flavoring and once with air popped popcorn coated with real butter instead.
Ice cream science lab! The first batch was made with two heaping cups of extra buttery flavor microwave popcorn.
Once milk has been infused with the popcorn flavor the popcorn is strained out and discarded and the milk is used to make a custard for the ice cream. At this point in time I began to realize that the popcorn infused milks were both tasting very similar. The microwave popcorn dyed the milk a yellowish colour so I added a tiny bit of yellow food colouring to the real butter popcorn milk so that there wouldn't be a colour difference when it came time to do the tastings
The both custards were chilled overnight in the fridge before being churned in my ice cream maker.
Wellington hung out with me during the ice cream churning because there was an tiny shoebox which was irresistibly calling to him to stuff himself inside it. Plus there was a possibility that I'd drip some cream on the floor..
I scooped them the soft ice cream into separate containers and put it in the freezer to firm up before we had the taste test.
We were very diligent with the tasting.
In the end the ice cream made with the microwave popcorn had a slightly more distinctive popcorn flavor while the one made with real butter and air popped corn had a more subtle flavor. I think this is probably due to the fact that butter flavoring oil will taste the same when frozen while the butter in the other batch loses its flavor when it gets chilled.
The final verdict: The ice cream is seriously delicious regardless of what kind of popcorn you make it with. However, if you want something that is identifiable as popcorn ice cream I'd go with the microwave popcorn. If you want ice cream that is buttery and sweet and subtle then make it with the air popped popcorn and real butter.
(Note: Our vintage silver His and Hers ice cream spoons are from The WoodenHive on Etsy. )
Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream
Recipe Adapted from Almost Bourdain
2.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream (aka whipping cream)
1 cup sugar
1tsp Vanilla extract
2 heaping cups of buttered popcorn (your choice! Either microwave or air/stove popped tossed with butter and salt)
1. Combine milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar , vanilla and the popcorn in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat until almost boiling and then remove from heat. Let rest for 30 minutes to infuse the popcorn flavor
2. Using a cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer strain out the popcorn and discard.
3. In a separate bowl whisk or use a mixer to beat the eggs and remaining /2 cup sugar until it reaches the ribbon stage
4. While still whisking/beating pour the warm milk into the eggs and beat until combine. Pour the egg milk mixture back into the clean pot and heat over medium until the mixture thickens while stirring constantly.
5. Chill custard in fridge with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. I like to chill mine over night. Then churn in an ice cream maker and either enjoy it as a soft serve ice cream right away or put it in your freezer to firm up and enjoy as scoops of ice cream.