Popcorn Ice Cream is our favourite dessert to scoop and serve for film lovers on movie night.
Our quick & easy recipe is made using an Air Popper and Ice Cream & Gelato Maker.
This decadent gourmet dessert features a vanilla bean and buttered popcorn ice cream base, caramel corn and caramel sauce.
Enjoy as a cool scoop on a hot summer day or serve as a special dessert like an ice cream sundae with fresh fruit, nuts and dark chocolate.
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My Family Loves Popcorn Ice Cream
What family doesn’t love ice cream?
I spent months researching Toronto’s best ice cream & gelato. In search of the city’s most drool-worthy frozen desserts, I found endless inspiring flavour combinations.
Over the years each family member has developed a penchant for a particular flavour. I love Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dad hearts Jamoca Almond Fudge, Mom adores Mint Chocolate Chip and my sister raves for Pralines & Cream.
Since everyone in my family is a film lover with a penchant for buttery movie theatre popcorn I created my own homemade popcorn ice cream recipe.
Growing up as a kid my father always made homemade popcorn in an air popper when my parents hosted movie night. He’d add corn kernels to the machine and moments later freshly popped crunchy white clouds were being tossed in melted butter.
We never used microwave popcorn as we didn’t like the added chemicals, fake butter flavour and outrageous amount of salt. So we don’t suggest using the commercial store bought bags in this popcorn ice cream recipe.
What Is Ice Cream?
Ice cream is a sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. It may be made from dairy milk or cream and is flavoured with sweetener such as sugar, and flavourings such as cocoa or vanilla.
The mixture is stirred to incorporate air and is cooled below the freezing point of water to prevent undesirable ice crystals from forming. The result is a smooth, semi-solid foam that is stored at very low temperatures.
The meaning of the name “ice cream” varies from one country to another. Terms such as frozen custard, frozen yogurt, sorbet and gelato are used to distinguish different varieties and styles.
Ice cream may also be served in dishes, for eating with a spoon, or licked from edible cones. Ice cream may be served with other desserts, such as pie, or as an ingredient in ice cream floats, sundaes, milkshakes, ice cream cakes and eye-popping Baked Alaska.
History Of Ice Cream
The origins of frozen desserts are unknown, though there are several often repeated legends dated as early as the 3rd millenium in ancient China. According to one legendary origin myth, the Roman Emperor Nero had ice collected from the Apennine Mountains to produce the first sorbet mixed with honey and wine. Other legends say ice cream originated in the Mongolian empire and first spread to China during its expansion.
Its spread throughout Europe is sometimes attributed to Arab traders, but more often to Marco Polo. Though it’s not mentioned in any of his writings, Polo is often credited with introducing sorbet-style desserts to Italy after learning of it during his travels to China.
The Italian duchess Catherine de’ Medici is said to have introduced flavoured sorbet ices to France when she brought some Italian chefs with her to France upon marrying the Duke of Orléans in 1533. One hundred years later, Charles I of England was reportedly so impressed by the “frozen snow” that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royals only treat.
Snow was used to cool drinks in Greece around 500 BC and Hippocrates is known to have criticized chilled drinks for causing “fluxes of the stomach”. Snow collected from the lower slopes of mountains was unsanitary and iced drinks were believed to cause convulsions, colic and a host of other ailments. Seneca criticized the extravagant costs associated with iced desserts in an era without refrigeration.
Ice cream was made possible only by the discovery of the endothermic effect. Prior to this, cream could only be chilled but not frozen. It was the addition of salt, that lowered the melting point of ice, which had the effect of drawing heat from the cream and allowing it to freeze. The first known record of this comes from the Indian poem Pancatantra, dating to the 4th century AD.
Best Ice Cream Maker
Looking for the best ice cream maker to make homemade gelato, granita, sorbet and sherbet?
You don’t have to own a gelato shop or ice cream parlour to enjoy decadent gourmet ice cream scoops or soft serve at home.
Affordable ice cream makers typically sell for under $100 dollars and include a main base with on/off switch, frozen bowl, paddle attachment and lid. The box usually includes instructions on how to use the ice cream maker and a few easy recipes to get you started.
- Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker: 1.5 quart ice cream maker is fully automatic and features a compact bowl that freezes in less than 4 hours. Available in white and red.
- Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker: 2 quart ice cream maker features brushed stainless steel exterior and handy spout for adding mixins.
- Whynter Ice Cream Maker: splurge on this premium professional quality product that has a capacity of 2.1 quarts.
This easy ice cream recipe features two kinds of popcorn: buttered popcorn flavours the ice cream base and caramel corn pieces are mixed into the churned cream and a decorative topping.
For the ice cream base we suggest using Gourmet Popping Corn, which you can cook in an Air Popper. In our recipe we suggest tossing the popped corn kernels in melted butter to infuse the ice cream base with the flavour of movie theatre popcorn.
Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Tips
If it’s your first time making homemade Popcorn Ice Cream we suggest reading our step by step recipe from top to bottom. Familiarize yourself with each step before you start cooking in the kitchen.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks for first time ice cream makers:
- Rather than using expensive Tahitian vanilla beans feel free to substitue for Vanilla Bean Paste.
- Use organic whole milk and whipping cream if you can find it.
- Source high quality corn kernels, gourmet caramel popcorn and try making your own homemade caramel.
- Use a Cuisiniart Ice Cream Maker for great results!
- Serve your homemade ice cream immediately out of the machine for soft serve texture, or store in the freezer and scoop for a harder more authentic ice cream parlour experience.
- Serve ice cream simply on a cone or as a fun sundae with your favourite movie theatre candy, beer candied nuts, chocolate and fresh fruit.
What To Serve With Popcorn Ice Cream
If you’re an ice cream traditionalist you’ll likely want to lick our Popcorn Ice Cream off a cone or scoop out of a bowl all on its own.
If you’re celebrating a special occasion, or simply live your life with the mantra YOLO, dress up your homemade ice cream by serving it as a sundae or between two homemade cookies as a gourmet ice cream sandwich.
We love serving this ice cream recipe smushed between Oat Flour Cookies, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Toffee Walnut Cookies, Chewy Rainbow Skittles Sugar Cookies and Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies.
You can also scoop homemade ice cream over muffins, cupcakes, pancakes and more! Try pairing a scoop or two with Banana Muffins, Sticky Toffee Banana and Date Muffins, Banana Carrot Muffins, Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Muffins, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins, Banana Oat Flour Pancakes, Apple Fritter Muffins or Baileys French Toast.
Storing Ice Cream
Once you’ve mixed the freshly churned soft popcorn ice cream base with caramel corn and caramel sauce store it in the freezer overnight to harden so you can scoop it easily.
If you’re making ice cream sandwiches, form them when the ice cream is soft then immediately store them upright in the freezer in a container or freezer bag.
Our homemade Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream can be stored in the freezer for up to a month. But, I really doubt it will last much longer than a few days!
Popcorn Ice Cream Video
Popcorn Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- Air Popper
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Ice Cream Scoop
- 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter melted
- 140 g Popcorn Kernels
- 2 cups Whipping Cream
- 3 cups Whole Milk
- 2 Vanilla Beans split open, seeds scraped
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- Pinch Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Caramel Corn or Poppycock
- 4 tbsp Caramel Sauce
- Place kernels in an air popper. In a large bowl, make popcorn according to manufacturer's instructions. Toss in melted butter. Set aside.
- Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and add vanilla beans and seeds. Place over low heat and cook for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat just before it comes to a boil, pour over the popcorn and stir well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set aside to cool, and leave in the fridge to infuse overnight.
- The next day, bring the mixture back to room temperature and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a seperate bowl, squeezing all the flavour out of the popcorn into the milk before discarding the popcorn and vanilla pod.
- Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Whisk until light and fluffy, then use a ladle to spoon the cream mixture into the eggs, continuously whisking as you pour. Return the custard to a large saucepan with 1/4 tsp of salt. Place over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula and leaves a gap when you draw a line through it with your finger.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. Store in the fridge until well chilled. Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn for 35 minutes, until semi frozen.
- Transfer to a plastic container and top with 1/2 cup of caramel popcorn then drizzle with 2 tbsp of caramel sauce. Store in the freezer, covered, for at least 6 hours or until firm and scoopable.
- To serve, divide the ice cream among bowls and serve with remaining caramel popcorn and caramel sauce.
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