The morning of a flight from New York several years ago, I visited the Momofuku Milk Bar for my first time. The prior night, my sister and I had visited the Milk Bar at a ridiculous hour of 10 pm. Of course, to our naive surprise, it was closed and we settled for its sister restaurant Momofuku Ssäm Bar next door. Sadly, that restaurant had none of the sugary satisfactions that sought.
So when the sun rose, we rushed to the Milk Bar. It was on the opposite side of Manhattan, far away from my sister’s apartment on Wall Street. But in there, I was greeted by the smell of baked goods (of sugar!) and the creamy essence that could only be of a frozen confection. Of course, I got the crack pie and compost cookie (to this day, I can identify any Momofuku-inspired baked good). Most importantly, the famous Cereal Milk. Just the plain milk is what we opted for instead of the soft serve.
But I avoid eating cereal in the morning. The idea of cereal decaying into a soggy mess with milk nearly disgusts me. But! I can happily munch cereal on its own. And of course, I love downing variations of milk.
One of my biggest ice cream fans is a cereal fan. So when I woke up one morning and said, “I AM MAKING CEREAL MILK ICE CREAM”, that evening, we hauled ourselves to the nearest Safeway. On the way there, I researched how other people have made such flavors.
According to the reign of Humphry Slocombe, cornflakes are the core essence. However, having experienced a friend’s failed attempt at a homemade version of Secret Breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes, yes sir!)…I wasn’t that fond of the idea of soggy cereal in my ice cream.
At Safeway, I looked at the prices of cornflakes and determined I DON’T FEEL LIKE EATING CEREAL. So I opted for the cheapest name brand where my number one ice cream fan said YES JENN I WILL EAT THE REMAINING CEREAL IF YOU DON’T USE THE ENTIRE BOX. Very important to me, you see. So that’s why I used Cap’n Crunch.
The process that I finally followed has been the most time-intensive and labor-exhausting of all the ice creams I have done so far. So here we go!
Adapted from Cafe Fernando:
Additional tools beyond the standard tools:
For Caramelized Cereal
1 cup of cornflakes or Cap’n Crunch (some kind of crunchy yellow cereal)
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 and a half stick of unsalted butter, melted (approximately 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 275 F°.
In a large mixing bowl, crush the cereal with your hands. It’s ok if suddenly the cereal crumbles into powder dust. That’s what happened to me and why you have cheesecloth!
In a separate bowl, combine milk powder, sugar and salt. Set aside.
Add melted butter to the crushed cereal. Then add the sugar mixture. Toss that bowl to combine.
Spread the mixture evenly onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place in the preheated oven to caramelize the cereal, which will take approximately 35 minutes. At this point, the sticky sugar essence of the cereal should permeate your kitchen! Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
For Cereal Milk
4 cups whole milk
Caramelized cornflakes (reserve about 1/2 cup of caramelized cornflakes for serving)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the caramelized cereal and milk. Steep for about an hour. With a standard strainer, strain the milk. Using a wooden spoon, press the cereal against the strainer to squeeze as much milk as possible. Strain three more times through a cheesecloth to get out as much bits as possible. You can vary this number of times (so that there might be bits of cereal in the milk), but I wanted to mostly pure to contrast with the toppings.
For Cereal Milk Ice Cream
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup caramelized cornflakes, to serve
Combine cereal milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a small pot. Put on medium heat. Once the mixture has reached a light boil (bubbles appear on the edge), turn off the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks until blended. Add a cup of the milk mixture at a time to the egg yolks while whisking (tempering the eggs!). Repeat until there is no more milk. Return the mixture to the pot and place over medium heat. Stir until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, creating a custard.
In a bowl, pour the custard through a strainer into the chilled heavy cream. Place the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Then churn in the ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Sprinkle caramelized cereal on top when serving.
Written in July 2012