In case you missed it, the high-low trend is very "in" right now in the world of food. Hip chefs are appropriating basic, home-y foods from your childhood — like macaroni and cheese, or beef jerky, or tater tots — and making them trendy. And then there is cereal milk soft serve, created by Momofuku Milk Bar's mad pastry genius Christina Tosi. She takes the best part of your childhood Saturday mornings — slurping the gritty, sugared milk sludge at the bottom of your cereal bowl in front of cartoons — and turns it into a sophisticated, lightly sweet dessert.
A few weeks ago, we needed Corn Flakes to make the crunchy topping of a noodle kugel at a photo shoot, and had about half a box leftover. I'd never sampled cereal milk before, so I followed the recipe on Milk Bar's site, and ended up with a pitcher of sweet milk that tasted like it had come straight from the bottom of cereal bowls of yore. But I couldn't stop there! I had to take this experiment to its natural conclusion: cereal milk ice cream. And since we don't own a soft serve machine, I decided to perfect a recipe that was accessible to everyone with an ice cream maker. So go ahead, embrace childhood — make cereal milk ice cream.
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3 cups Corn Flakes, or other unsweetened cereal (such as Special K, Chex, etc.)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups Corn Flakes, or other unsweetened cereal
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
First, toast your Corn Flakes. If Corn Flakes aren't your jam, any unsweetened cereal will work (Special K or Chex, for example). Spread the cereal evenly on a baking sheet, then place it in a 300° F oven for about 15 minutes. Feel free to keep them in for longer if you want a really toasty taste. Let the cereal cool completely, then combine it with whole milk in a pitcher or large jar, and let the whole mixture steep for about 20 minutes. Be patient — magic is happening.
After 20 minutes, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Using a spatula or the backside of a spoon, squish the cereal mush to extract the maximum amount of milk. At this point, you could mix in a bit of brown sugar, salt, and vanilla and be done with it. But if you want to take this over the top, continue.
Now it's time to make the ice cream base. I loosely followed The New York Times' Master Ice Cream Recipe, but I adjusted it to make the cereal milk ice cream a little icier and less rich — more like the version from Milk Bar. Heat your cereal-ified milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Temper a few egg yolks with the hot milk mixture, then add them back into the saucepan and heat the whole thing, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Chill the mixture for at least four hours, then churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Enjoy immediately for a more soft serve-like consistency, or store in an airtight container until the urge for childhood hits.
Now, it's time for the pièce de résistance: the Corn Flake brittle. Unlike the Momofuku Milk Bar version, which uses powdered milk and is quite sandy, I decided to go for a more traditional, caramelized brittle.
To make it, toast some more Corn Flakes, let them cool, then spread them out on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Heat the sugar and water in a pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns lightly golden, then pour it over the Corn Flakes, stirring them to distribute the caramel throughout. Sprinkle with sea salt, then let the Corn Flakes cool. Once cool, put the brittle in a sealed plastic bag and release your aggression with a rolling pin until you have irregular nuggets of golden cereal deliciousness.
Scoop the ice cream generously, sprinkle on some brittle (or plain toasted cornflakes, if you like), and grab the biggest spoon you can find. This is best enjoyed on the sofa in front of a marathon of your favorite TV show.
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