momofuku milk bar exam no. 13 {cheesecake ice cream}

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Ice cream is not a seasonal food but it tastes especially good during the summer, doesn't it? Eaten in a cool air conditioned room, of course.

Cheesecake ice cream is actually one of my favorite flavors (the graham crackers are a necessity) so I was very excited to make this recipe. While traditional ice cream bases require the technique of tempering egg yolks in heated cream, in this recipe the egg is baked in the liquid cheesecake thus no risk of scrambled eggs in your ice cream.

If you have an ice cream machine, it comes together in a pinch! Unfortunately, I don't have space in my New York apartment for one so I maximized on my visit home and used my mom's... it was a mutually beneficial exchange. My mom is actually quite the ice cream fiend-- a lean mean Häagen-Dazs eating machine.  One time I found a photo of her in the late 80's smiling proudly, showcasing a delicious Häagen-Dazs cone in one hand. And a baby (me) dangling in her other hand. The fact that the ice cream took priority only makes me proud to be her daughter.

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Originally, this ice cream is meant to be eaten as soft serve as it's sold at the Momofuku Milk Bar stores. I can see why, because once completely frozen, you might as well be scooping marble! When slightly thawed though, it's worth the wrist pain. You could even add some strawberries or blueberries during the churning process to make it even more summer appropriate. Or better yet go all out and sandwich it between some blueberry and cream, confetti, or corn cookies. Again, this is completely fine to eat all year round no matter what season.

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cheesecake ice cream from Momofuku Milk Bar makes about 450g (1 pint)

  • 1 gelatin sheet (½ teaspoon powdered gelatin)
  • 1 cup (220g) milk
  • ½ recipe Liquid Cheesecake
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (85g, ¼ recipe) Graham Crust
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Bloom the gelatin. (2) Warm a little bit of the milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. (3) Transfer the gelatin mixture to a blender, add the remaining milk, the liquid cheesecake, sour cream, graham crust, milk powder, and salt, and puree until smooth and even. Don’t be stingy on the blending time: you want to make sure the graham crust is completely liquefied; otherwise your cheesecake ice cream will be missing that flavor. (4) Pour the ice cream base through a fine-mesh sieve into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Liquid Cheesecake makes about 325g (1¼ cups)

  • 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) milk
  • 1 egg

(1)   Heat the oven to 300° F. (2)   Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (3)   Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous. (4)   With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5)   Line the bottom and sides of a 6x6 inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Poor the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more then 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. (6)   Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.