It was spring for what, 6 weeks? And now summer’s evil humidity hath arrived! We are already hitting up 90 degree weather in DC and in dire need of all the cold desserts so I come to you today with a the most nostalgic of summer treats.
I spent a good chunk of March playing with lucky charms cake batter. Cereal milk cakes (of the cornflake variety) have been around for awhile thanks to Milk Bar and I guess that spurned a trend of baking with lucky charms cereal as well. I made a ‘lucky charms cake’ for bg’s 6 month bday (+two years ago now!), by flavoring the milk with the grain part of the cereal and adding a handful of marshmallows to the batter to look like funfetti. But with that one and other cereal cakes I’ve had, I always felt something was missing. The actual cereal milk taste wasn’t really distinguishable to me, no matter how long I left it to soak. I noticed most recipes make up for this with imitation vanilla so it becomes a hybrid of birthday/cereal cake. It’s fun, it’s delicious, but it doesn’t taste like lucky charms.
I really wanted a dessert that tasted like the actual lucky charm marshmallow milk. Because let’s be real, nobody cares or wants the grain part. We’re in it for the colorful marshmallows and the sweet, sweet taste they impart onto the milk. That marshmallow milk is what I wanted my cake to taste like. So I made a white cake with cereal milk, left out the vanilla to remove any distraction, and brought in some serious marshmallow dust.
I will preface this and tell you - yes it is possible to make this and can be DELICIOUS. The issue is that it makes a terribly ugly batter and even worse colored cake (the baking process will always yellow or ‘golden’ the batter). My batter turned light gray and, once baked, the cake went full greenish-gray. We ate it, loved it, and I shelved the idea. Careful readers will note that when I made the lucky charms version of my rainbow cake (which took a ton of testing to get the right flavor and colors), I left out the marshmallows to ensure a white background.
But that yummy taste kept nagging at me and, dammit, I knew it could make a perfect and delicious dessert! I needed something with milk and I needed to be able to manipulate the color without too much effort. I turned to the obvious candidate: ice cream. Because it was two parts liquid dairy, I could really play with the flavor. I would flavor the cream with the ‘cereal milk’, and, most importantly (!), I’d blend in the marshmallows into the milk, for full lucky charm flavor. Hell yeah!
I’m not the first person to come up with a lucky charms ice cream recipe but this one stands apart from others you’ll find on the interwebs and here’s why: I include whole marshmallow bits, and lots of them, in the ice cream base itself. This means your ice cream base won’t be ‘flavored cereal milk’ nor will it be just gently flavored with marshmallows that were sieved out of the milk. It will be a full-blown experience of every bite tasting like lucky charms marshmallow milk. How wonderful does that sound??!! This is for the inner child in all of us!
Charms Marshmallow Ice Cream
I heavily adapted this recipe from nytcooking for the base. I reversed the quantities for the milk and cream and reduced the sugar because I was adding all the marshmallows and still wanted a light final product. The result is wonderful - even after a large scoop you won’t feel it was heavy!
I got the purple coloring tip from here. The author removes the green and yellow charms from the mallows she soaks into the milk (which she then sieves out). Curious if it would work and in pursuit of a non-gray color, I also sorted my charms which is why I had leftovers for decorating, but oops, once I tempered in the yolks, the base turned grayish-green anyway! For this reason I don’t believe it’s necessary to separate the mallows you put in the base.
As a food coloring, purple works great here because it is already a mix of reds and blues but I imagine the base could be persuaded into blue or any strong color simply by using more food coloring. My bg’s favorite color is purple and so that is where we ended up. If you don’t care about the color of the ice cream, don’t even bother with the food coloring.
Don’t want to sift through a box of cereal just to make this? I hear you and I have a suggestion. I haven’t tried it but have heard good things about using other dehydrated marshmallows like these. If you don’t want to use lucky charms at all, skip the cereal soaking of the heavy cream and replace the charms with the dried mallows in the two parts of the recipe that use them. The flavor you want here is from the marshmallows anyway.
I left out any vanilla flavoring (as I did when cake testing). I personally think it interrupts the marshmallow charms taste. But, if you desire it, once you’ve got your base off the heat, taste it - if you think you would like some vanilla, add 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it gets to your desired flavor.
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup lucky charms grain cereal only
1 cup marshmallow bits only
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks, cracked into a bowl
Optional: purple food coloring
Additional 1 cup lucky charm marshmallow bits
Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and add the grain cereal bits. Submerge with the back of a spoon and allow to sit for at least an hour. Once the cream has absorbed enough flavor, sieve out the cereal and press the cereal bits to extract as much flavor as possible.
In a food processor or blender mix the marshmallow bits with the milk and allow to sit until they soften (this wont take more than 15 minutes or so). Once soft, blend the mixture.
In a large pot, mix the milk, and heavy cream with the sugar and salt. Once sugar has dissolved, add some of this mixture to the egg yolks to temper and whisk with the yolks. Repeat twice more. This is to temper the eggs.
Add the egg yolk mix to the pot and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mix reaches 170 F, is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
Sieve the mixture into a heat-safe bowl to remove any egg or cereal bits. Add purple food coloring, if using, and stir to combine. Set in fridge to cool overnight.
Freeze, according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. In the last minute of freezing, add the additional marshmallow bits. Place in an ice cream tub and store in your freezer.