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There's an ice cream shop in my neighborhood that's famous for their crazy ice cream flavors. You'll frequently find flavors like Pear and Blue Cheese or Tomato Water and Olive Oil on the menu. On Thanksgiving, Salt & Straw rolls out a salted caramel ice cream that's flavored with turkey juice and caramelized onions. One summer, there was a flavor that combined berries, barbecue sauce, and baked beans.
As a dessert enthusiast, I dive right in. I'll try a scoop of everything, including the ice creams with the pig's blood (Blood Pudding flavor, usually shows up around Halloween, yup), the meat juices, and even sea urchin. Do I enjoy it all?
Er... no, not really.
I know that makes me a bad Portlander, and I'm sure as I write this, the locals are gearing up to throw me some sticks and stones like they did in the comments section of this article. But maybe I'm just a simpleton at heart because the flavors I like best are their "classic" ones: chocolate gooey brownie, coconut with caramel bars, and Stumptown coffee with bourbon.
Every so often, however, I'll try one of their seasonal flavors and be blown right out of the water. Last month, it was a flavor called "Pots of Gold & Rainbows", a cereal milk based ice cream that was studded with all the marshmallows from pounds and pounds of Lucky Charms cereal but without any of their whole grain companions (because let's be honest, the only people who eat Lucky Charms cereal do it for the marshmallows, AMIRITE). It was perfect. There's no other word for it — the ice cream hit the perfect mix of creativity and deliciousness, balancing somewhere between a timeless classic and a more disruptive future demanding change amongst tried and true flavors. I found myself craving the ice cream again and again, lining up in Salt & Straw's obscenely long lines twice a week to buy myself a rather pricey scoop of the stuff.
But since I've never been the most patient person, I figured it was time to learn how to make it at home:
To reverse engineer the ice cream at home, I started by flipping through the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. Cereal milk dessert isn't a Salt & Straw invention; instead, it was popularized a few years ago by famed pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame. Her New York bakeries actually sell cereal milk by the bottle, and she has pretty solid recipe for cereal milk that I've used in previous recipes (like these cupcakes!). But honestly, it's something that you could easily make without one, AND, if you eat cereal for breakfast every day, you probably already even do. Because here's the secret: cereal milk is nothing but cereal-infused milk. Like you know how when you eat a bowl of cereal, the leftover milk in the bowl once you've eaten all the cereal will have all these tiny cereal crumbs and will taste a little bit like the cereal you just ate? THAT'S CEREAL MILK. That's it. That's all! Seriously.
And so after sorting out the marshmallows (more on that later, grumble), I used the leftover whole grain cereal to make the cereal milk, which I then used in my favorite vanilla ice cream recipe (from Humphry Slocombe, a San Francisco-based ice cream parlor also known for its crazy flavors), churned it all into my ice cream maker, and hand-stirred in the remaining Lucky Charms marshmallows. Oh! And let's not forget — because I am a hedonist, I also bought some waffle cones, dipped them in some melted chocolate and marshmallows and BOOM! Chocolate and Lucky Charms marshmallow-lined waffle cones. Thank you, and good night.
Some baker's notes:
- To make this ice cream, I used the cereal and marshmallows from one family size (20.5 ounces) box of Lucky Charms cereal. I hand sorted out the marshmallows, which gave me around 1 1/2 to 2 cups worth of marshmallows (sorry, I'm not exactly sure since I ate a lot of them while I was doing the sorting, lol) that I needed for this recipe. HOWEVER, thanks to comments from my trusty Instagram followers, I found out that you can actually just BUY straight-up marshmallows from Amazon! So do yourself a favor and make your life easier and buy that instead.
- Toasting the Lucky Charms in the oven before steeping them deepens the flavor of the milk. I didn't add any additional sugar to my steeped milk since I was going to be adding plenty in the ice cream custard base, but if you want your ice cream a little bit sweeter, add up to 2 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar. The recipe for Lucky Charms cereal milk below makes more than is needed for the ice cream custard, so you can drink the rest (and it definitely tastes better with a dash or two of sugar). It'll keep in a clean pitcher, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
- The ice cream recipe I use is a custard base containing cream, milk, and eggs. Before starting the cooking process, make sure you have the bowl and ice bath ready to cool down your base as soon as its finished cooking. This is essential, since the hot custard will continue to cook for a while, and if you overcook the custard you'll end up with sugary scrambled eggs for ice cream. Which... no thank you.
- To make the chocolate and marshmallow dipped waffle cones, I used about 1 ounce of melted dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon of Lucky Charms marshmallows per cone.
- a fine-mesh sieve
- a large bowl or pan filled with ice and water
- a large metal bowl that can fit inside the bowl/pan of ice and water
- an ice cream maker
For the Lucky Charms Cereal Milk:
- 2 3/4 cups Lucky Charms cereal (whole grain only, no marshmallows!)
- 3 3/4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup Lucky Charms cereal milk (from recipe above)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons malt powder
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups Lucky Charms marshmallows (marshmallows only, no whole grain pieces!)
- Preheat the oven to 300 (F) and prepare a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper.
- Spread 2 3/4 cups Lucky Charms cereal on the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly toasted, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Transfer the cereal to a large pitcher or mason jar. Pour 3 3/4 cups whole milk into the pitcher or jar and stir or shake vigorously for a few seconds. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature.
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl, collecting the milk in the bowl. The milk will drain off quickly at first, then become thicker and starchy towards the end of the straining process. Use the back of a ladle or a spatula to press the mushy cereal to wring more milk out of them, but be careful not to force any of the mushy cereal through the sieve.
- Whisk 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the strained milk until fully dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use for the ice cream custard.
- Fill a large bowl or pan with a generous amount of ice and cold water to create an ice bath. Place a large, clean metal bowl in the ice bath and fit the bowl with a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 cups heavy cream, 1 cup Lucky Charms cereal milk (from recipe above), and 2 teaspoons kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot and jusssttt about to boil, but not boiling.
- Meanwhile, spilt the vanilla bean length wise and use the tip of your knife to scrape out the insides into a medium bowl. Don't throw out the pod though, because you'll need that for later! Add 1 cup granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons malt powder and use your fingers to rub all of it together to incorporate and evenly distribute the vanilla seeds throughout the sugar. Whisk in 3 large egg yolks and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until a uniform color, and return to your cream and milk mixture from the previous step.
- Remove the cream mixture from heat, and slowly, slowly pour about half of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture and return it to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, occasionally scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent any scorching, until the liquid begins to steam, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the custard from heat and IMMEDIATELY pour it through the sieve and into the bowl in the ice bath. Tuck the vanilla bean pod back into the custard. Allow the mixture to cool completely, stirring every 5 minutes or so to release heat.
- When the custard has completely cooled, cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator to steep and chill for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight. When you are ready to freeze the custard, fish out the vanilla bean pod, and transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- When the ice cream has finished churning and has the consistency of soft serve, transfer to a medium bowl. Use a rubber spatula to stir in 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of Lucky Charms marshmallows until they are fully incorporated throughout the ice cream. Eat immediately, or transfer to an airtight container to freeze and eat later at your leisure.