Author Notes: “Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd; buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I never get back...”
This recipe was inspired by a delicious dessert I had recently at Lincoln restaurant in Portland. The chef, Jenn Louis, is working on writing a gnocchi cookbook, so she has been serving gnocchi flights. After our delicious gnocchi flight (Beet Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter, Spaetzle with Morels and Rosemary Cream, and Cavatelli with Lamb Ragu), we were given the dessert menu. I was intrigued by the Popcorn Panna Cotta with Crème Fraîche and Caramel Sauce, so I had to order it. After my first bite I knew I wanted to make popcorn ice cream, but I couldn't settle on a larger concept. I toyed with ice cream sandwiches, but realized I'd rather make a sundae cone using a caramelized white chocolate shell. Along the way I added a spicy pistachio brittle, the whole idea vaguely reminding me of summer and baseball and Cracker Jack.
I adapted the base recipe from Jeni Britton Bauer to make the popcorn ice cream. I also used her recipe for the caramelized white chocolate “bombe” shell and her instructions for making “bombebasticks.” All of the recipes can be found in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I used a basic peanut brittle recipe, substituting pistachios for peanuts and adding a bit of cayenne pepper for kick.
Don't let the steps in the recipe dissuade you -- it is less work than it seems, and you can omit parts of the process if you prefer. If you don't feel like making sundae cones you can just scoop the ice cream into bowls then drizzle on some of the caramelized white chocolate shell. You can skip the brittle or the white chocolate shell or both. The plain popcorn ice cream tastes a lot like kettle corn, and is pretty delicious all by itself. - hardlikearmour
Food52 Review: Hardlikearmour’s Sundae Ball Game Cones may be the perfect way to celebrate summer. The MVP is the popcorn ice cream -- the technique for making it is super smart and the taste is seriously delicious. The caramelized white chocolate shell nicely complements the kettle corn flavor, and crunchy bits of spicy pistachio brittle make it more addictive still. The addition of the waffle cone is just plain fun. Once assembled, there's a playful yet professional quality to this dessert. I can only imagine what a huge hit they’d be at a summer birthday party or BBQ; I can't wait to find out! - EmilyC
Makes about 6 cones
Spicy Pistachio Brittle & Caramelized White Chocolate Shell (from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup evaporated cane sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups shelled roasted and salted pistachios
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I prefer E. Guittard 31% Cacao Pure White Chocolate Wafers, but Ghirardelli White Chocolate Premium Baking Bar will also work)
- 1/3 cup refined coconut oil
- To make the brittle: Line a sheet pan with parchment, then butter the parchment. Set aside. Place water in a 2 to 3 quart sauce pan. Add the corn syrup, sugar, and salt, keeping the sugar in the middle of the pan. Draw an X through the sugar to help the water wick through it.
- Cover the pan, and place over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil. Uncover the pan, and swirl occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the mixture reaches 305º F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in the butter and vanilla, then the pistachios, then the baking soda and cayenne. Pour the brittle onto the prepared pan and spread to about 1/4-inch thick.
- Allow the brittle to cool completely, then break into chunks. Place the chunks in a plastic bag, and use a meat tenderizer or other suitable implement to break them into 1/2-inch size and smaller bits. Measure out 3/4 cup to add to the ice cream, and place the remainder into a small-medium bowl for dipping the cones into.
- To make the shell: Combine white chocolate and coconut oil in a medium sauce pan, and heat over medium-low until the chocolate has melted. Stir the mixture continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom. (I prefer to use a bamboo or wooden spatula, as it has a larger area of contact with the bottom of the pan than a regular wooden spoon does.)
- The mixture should caramelize gradually over about 15 minutes. If it is browning too quickly for comfort, remove it from the heat, stir like mad, and drop the burner to low. Once the mixture has turned a golden caramel color, transfer it to a 2-cup glass measure. Set it aside to cool. It can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. It will need to be reheated either by placing the storage container into a bowl of hot water, or with brief bursts in the microwave. The cooler the mixture is (while still being liquid) the easier it will be to work with when dipping the sundae cones.
- NOTE: For more information about caramelizing white chocolate: http://food52.com/blog/5725-valrhona-s-caramelized-white-chocolate-3-simple-ways-to-use-it
Popcorn Ice Cream & Construction of Sundae Cones
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
- 2 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cups evaporated cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3/4 cups spicy pistachio brittle pieces and crumbs
- 6 waffle cones (purchased or homemade)
- 1 batch caramelized white chocolate shell
- Pistachio brittle pieces and popcorn for garnish
- Place popcorn kernels and oil in a large, heavy pot that has a tight fitting lid. Heat over medium heat with the lid on. When you hear the corn start to pop, shake the pot continuously until the corn stops popping. Transfer the popped corn to a bowl. Set aside.
- Ice cream prep: Whisk cornstarch and about 2 tablespoons of milk together in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk until smooth.
- Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4- to 6-quart pan. Heat over medium-high, and when the mixture reaches a rolling boil set a timer for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes remove the milk mixture from the heat. Add all but 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the popped corn to the milk mixture, and swirl the pan until the corn is all saturated. Set aside the remaining popped corn for garnish, if desired (otherwise eat it as a snack). Cover the milk mixture and let it steep for 30 minutes.
- When the milk mixture is almost finished steeping, fill a large bowl with ice and water. Use a lot of ice! You will use this ice bath in step 7.
- Strain the popcorn-milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Some starchy material will make it through the strainer. Don't worry -- scrape it into the bowl as well. Transfer the milk mixture back to the pan. Re-whisk the milk-cornstarch mixture you made earlier, then slowly whisk it into the popcorn-milk mixture. Return all of it to medium-high heat. Cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. The mixture should form a thin film on the back of a wooden spoon when it is ready.
- Add about ½ cup of the milk mixture to the cream cheese and whisk vigorously until only small flecks of cream cheese are visible. Add another 1/2 to 1 cup of milk, and whisk until no flecks of cream cheese are visible. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture.
- Transfer the ice cream base mixture to a 1-gallon zip-sealed, plastic freezer bag. Squeeze out most of the air and seal the bag, then submerge the ice cream base in the ice bath. (I'm a chicken and generally leave the sealed portion of the bag above the water, but if you're confident in your seal you can submerge the whole thing.) Set aside until ice cream base is very cold, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Freeze the ice cream base as directed by your ice cream machine's instruction manual. Transfer the finished ice cream to a storage container, folding in 3/4 cup of the spicy pistachio brittle as you go. Place a piece of parchment on the surface of the ice cream, and place the container in the freezer. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
- To assemble the Sundae Cones: Pour 1/4 cup of caramelized white chocolate shell into a waffle cone. Swirl to coat, then pour the excess out. Dip the opening of the cone into the chocolate mixture so that 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the edge is covered. Allow the cone to drain until the chocolate is no longer dripping, then turn upright and place the cone in a glass or mug, and place it in the freezer. Repeat with remaining cones. Allow to cones to freeze for 30 minutes or more.
- If the ice cream is too firm to easily scoop, allow it to soften in the refrigerator until it is scoopable. Working with one cone at a time, place a scoop (about 2/3 to 3/4 cup worth) of ice cream onto the cone. Press gently into place to seat it without breaking the cone. Return to the freezer. Allow the cones to freeze for at least an hour.
- Again working one cone at a time, dip the ice cream cone into the chocolate to coat all of the exposed ice cream. Allow excess to briefly drip, then dip the top of the cone into the pistachio brittle. If desired, press a few pieces of popcorn into the cone as well. Work rapidly because the chocolate shell will solidify fairly quickly. Return cone to the freezer and freeze at least 45 minutes. If the cones won't be served within a few hours, wrap them in parchment or waxed paper, and store them in freezer bags.
- Alternate serving suggestion for “The Popcorn Ball”: Place a roundish scoop of ice cream in a dish and drizzle with the caramelized white chocolate shell. Sprinkle on some brittle bits and a few kernels of popcorn.