Caramel Corn Icebox Cake

Summer 2018
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food and drink

BY: Joanne Yolles

Surprise your guests with an unusual use of summer corn. Be sure, however, to start a couple of days ahead—the corn-infused cream needs to sit overnight, and the finished dessert requires an overnight freeze.

FRESH CORN SEMIFREDDO
4 ears fresh corn, shucked
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream
2 eggs separated
5 tbsp (75 mL) sugar, divided
1 tbsp (15 mL) corn syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

CRUST
1½ cups (375 mL) graham cracker crumbs, (from about 12 sheets of graham crackers if using whole crackers)
2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar
6 tbsp (90 mL) unsalted butter

CARAMEL
½ cup plus 2 tbsp (155 mL) sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) corn syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
⅓ cup (80 mL) whipping cream
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
Caramel Corn (recipe follows)

1. For the semifreddo, cut the kernels from the cobs, reserving the cobs. In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the kernels, cobs and cream. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes. Transfer the entire mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. For the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

3. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Place the butter in a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat. Continue cooking the butter until it is a nut-brown colour. Remove from heat and pour over the graham crumbs. Using a fork or your fingertips, mix together until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs over the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) springform cake pan. Bake for 10 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

4. For the caramel, place the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Add the water without stirring. Place a lid on the pan and place over high heat. As soon as the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves, remove the lid. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture is amber-coloured, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully and slowly, add a small amount of the whipping cream—the mixture will bubble up at first. Let the mixture simmer down, then whisk until smooth. Continue adding the cream in 3 or 4 more stages, whisking until smooth. If the mixture appears lumpy, place over low heat and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time. Cool to room temperature.

5. Drizzle 3 to 4 tbsp (45 to 60 mL) of the cooled caramel over the bottom of the crust and refrigerate to solidify the caramel. Transfer any remaining caramel to a container and refrigerate for future use.

6. Returning to the corn semifreddo, remove the cream from the refrigerator and discard the cobs. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible—you should have a generous 1 cup (250 mL) of cream. Discard the solids and refrigerate the cream.

7. Place the 2 egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the sugar, all the corn syrup and vanilla and whisk to combine. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and is hot to the touch. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

8. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until frothy then add the remaining 4 tbsp (60 mL) sugar gradually. Continue beating to stiff, glossy peaks. Fold the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture.

9. Whip the reserved corn-infused cream to medium peaks and fold into the yolk mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Freeze overnight.

10. Remove the cake from the pan and cut with a sharp knife. After cutting, top each piece with Caramel Corn. Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10 to 12

CARAMEL CORN

The caramel-coated graham cracker crust and corn-flavoured semifreddo of our Caramel Corn Icebox Cake are enhanced by the “icing on the cake”—crunchy caramel corn!

2 tbsp (30 mL) popcorn kernels
2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil
¾ cup (175 mL) sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
Heaping ¼ tsp (1 mL-plus) baking soda

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pop the popcorn kernels in the vegetable oil in a pot then place in a lightly oiled medium bowl.

2. Place the sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Add water just to cover.

3. Place over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, to a light golden-yellow caramel, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble up. Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn. Carefully and quickly, toss the caramel and the popcorn together until the popcorn is well coated.

4. Transfer the caramel-coated popcorn to the prepared baking sheet, then flatten and separate into small pieces while still warm. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a sealed container until serving.

Makes enough for 1 Caramel Corn Icebox Cake