If I had to pick my favorite ice cream flavor, it would be a hard choice between Mint Chip and Cinnamon. Which, admittedly, doesn’t seem like a fair fight. Mint Chip is the heavyweight, appearing absolutely everywhere, while underdog Cinnamon is criminally ignored as an ice cream flavor.
I first tasted cinnamon ice cream as a child at Marianne’s in Santa Cruz, where we would stop on our way home from the beach. It was a revelation—a common flavor and a common dessert, paired together in a way I hadn’t tasted before. At the risk of picking a huge fight with Jason “Vanilla is the Finest of the Flavors” LaBau, I think of cinnamon as a much more interesting version of vanilla ice cream.
I’m sure many companies make cinnamon ice cream, but it’s still not one I see often on my grocery store shelves, so it’s become one of my go-to flavors to make at home. I actually already have one recipe for cinnamon ice cream on this site—that one uses whole eggs, instead of egg yolks, so it’s a good choice if you don’t want to have extra whites left over. This version, in addition to having a different ice cream base, adds a wonderful crunchy element, to give the ice cream a textural “pop” that matches the bold flavor. Look at all these speckles of cinnamon love:
The cinnamon crunchies are what really makes this ice cream special. They’re made with just two ingredients: cinnamon chips and crispy rice cereal. Melted chips coat the cereal and keep it from getting soggy in the ice cream, while also giving the cereal pieces a strong cinnamon flavor. These little crunchies are broken into small pieces, so there’s a little bit in every single bite. This ice cream, with its combination of creamy and crunchy textures, and double dose of cinnamon flavor, is a must-try for all serious cinnamon lovers!
In fact, I think Cinnamon Crunch might be the new Mint Chip—you heard it here first.
Recipe Notes: This recipe calls for cinnamon chips, which can found found near the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. (Hershey’s is one common brand.) They can also be ordered online from Amazon, or through the King Arthur Flour website. If you can’t find cinnamon chips, you can try substituting white chocolate chips and adding a bit of ground cinnamon instead.
Cinnamon Crunch Ice Cream
yield: about 1 quart
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/8 tsp salt
5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup cinnamon chips
1/4 tsp coconut oil or vegetable oil (optional)
1 cup crispy rice cereal
To make the ice cream, combine the cream, milk, sugars, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl nearby and whisk them gently. Bring the milk/cream mixture to a simmer, then when it just starts to come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks while you slowly pour in about a third of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs heat up but don’t cook during the process.
Now return the saucepan to the heat and start whisking the cream while you pour in the hot egg mixture. Continue to whisk as the custard cooks, and cook it until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. If you want to use a candy thermometer, you’re shooting for 175 F (80C).
Take the pan from the heat and strain the ice cream custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract and ground cinnamon, then continue to whisk occasionally as it cools. Once at room temperature, press a layer of cling wrap on top of the custard and refrigerate it until it’s completely chilled. (To speed up the process, you can place the bowl over an ice bath and whisk it as it cools down.)
While the custard chills, prepare the cinnamon crunch. Microwave the cinnamon chips for 25 seconds, then stir until melted, heating them again in short intervals if necessary. If your melted chips are still fairly stiff, add a little coconut oil or vegetable oil, just so that they’re smooth and fluid when melted. Pour the melted cinnamon chips over the crispy rice cereal and stir until the cereal is well-coated. Scrape the cereal out onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and spread it into a thin, even layer. Refrigerate until set, then use a knife or your fingers to crumble the cereal mixture into small pieces.
When the custard is chilled and the cinnamon crunch is ready, place a 9×5 loaf pan in the freezer. Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Once finished, add the cinnamon crunch and stir it in. Scrape the ice cream into the loaf pan and smooth it into an even layer. Cover the ice cream with cling wrap, and return to the freezer to firm up completely.
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