What’s the “secret” in secret breakfast? What does breakfast have to do with ice cream? Find out below and get a fun ice cream recipe to impress your friends!When I had my first bite of Secret Breakfast at San Francisco’s iconic Humphry Slocombe ice creamery, I was a skeptic unmade. Its velvety base bears a subtle, smoky hint of bourbon with a touch of saltiness and butter. The best part is a bite of bourbon-laced clusters of cornflakes. I can safely say I’ve never had bourbon for breakfast, but if I had a secret breakfast, this one would be ideal.
A few friends convinced me to host a potluck in the urban oasis I call my San Francisco apartment, before I have to move out. With a great setting, I wanted to make something memorable. Homemade ice cream definitely has a Wow! factor, so I needed something unique. But I was out of ideas. Perhaps something adult and refined. Something unique.
It hit me: why couldn’t I try my hand at recreating Humphry Slocombe’s Secret Breakfast? Bourbon ice cream? I previously experimented with bourbon when I made this bourbon-caramel ice cream last year. And I had stale Frosted Flakes in my pantry, so it was doable.
The brown-butter bourbon custard base is creamy and the bourbon flavor subtle. If you have more time, you could separately reduce a larger quantity of bourbon over low heat and fold that into the brown butter mixture in order to intensify the bourbon flavor of the base.
The tricky part was trying to recreate the salty-sweet intensity of the bourbon-infused cornflake clusters without a recipe. Somehow, this one worked perfectly on the first try! The second secret is to bake the cornflakes on low heat for a prolonged period, which creates a sort of cornflake brittle. The honey, maple, bourbon, and butter glaze is addictive, and I found myself snacking on the clusters in the 48 hours between when I made them and when I actually assembled the ice cream. I used Frosted Flakes, but any type of pure corn flake will suffice.
When the churning was complete, I was overwhelmed by my guests’ reviews. “Better than Humphry, “You nailed the cornflakes,” “Well, you’re probably cuter than Humphry too,” “WTF”, and “this is so addictive” were a few of the comments. Despite a heavy meal and full stomachs, almost everyone went back for second and third helpings. Not a drip of this unique ice cream remained when my friends left my home.
It tastes far superior when served an hour or two after it is churned. I recommend making the custard base and cornflake brittle at least 24 hours in advance, and churn the ice cream right before serving. Freezing the churned ice cream for an hour or two will help ensure a more solid, yet still creamy texture. When storing leftovers – if you have any! – try to use small containers that you can pack to the brim (no air gap), which will slow the growth of ice crystals.
#CuterthanHumphry Bourbon Cornflake Ice Cream
Yield – One Quart
Bourbon cornflake brittle
- 1/4 cup honey (orange blossom honey recommended)
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. Salted butter
- 3 Tbsp. Bourbon whisky
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups stale corn flakes
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the corn flakes. If any ingredients remain solid, microwave the mixture on LOW power for 15-30 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Fold in cornflakes.
Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Spread cornflake mixture in a thin layer across the pan. Bake for 90 minutes.
While baking, make the ice cream custard base. Cool the cornflake. Clusters completely before serving.
When baking is complete, remove the cornflakes from the oven. Cool. The cornflakes may be pliable or soft in texture when warm, but as they cool, they should harden. When cool, break the cornflakes into granola-sized clusters. Store in an airtight container until ready to churn and add them to the ice cream.
Ice cream base
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 c. Brown sugar
- 1 c. Plus 4 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 c. Bourbon whisky
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 1/3 tsp. Sea salt
- 3 cups whole milk
- 6 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 c. Granulated sugar
In a medium pot or saucepan over medium-low heat (just under medium), melt the butter. Allow the butter to brown, stirring/whisking infrequently until the bitter is uniformly light brown in color.
It may appear grainy when left alone – that’s not a problem. It should have a toffee-like, caramelized flavor when it reaches this stage.
As the butter continues to bubble and darken, add a few tablespoons (about 2) of whipping cream and stir. Next, whisk in the brown sugar to form a paste; when it becomes too granular, add the remaining 2 tbsp. of cream (setting aside one cup). Add the bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Stir to incorporate and allow to bubble/boil for about 5 minutes. The liquid’s volume should reduce slightly.
Whisk in the milk and remaining cup of whipping cream. Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, separate eggs and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl. Beat with a wire whisk (small bubbles should appear). Gradually add the granulated (white) sugar and beat until sugar is more or less dissolved.
When the milk mixture has reached a boil, allow it to boil for 2-4 minutes; it should begin to expand or become frothy. Remove from heat. Pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking in gradually to temper the eggs. Add in another cup of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour the resulting milk-egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and whisk in to incorporate fully.
Return the pot to heat. Whisking occasionally, bring to a slight boil; remove the pot immediately from the heat to prevent curdling. The custard should now be thick enough to coat a mixing spoon.
Cool the mixture for about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Whisk periodically if possible. You can shortcut the chilling by placing in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but stir/whisk every 5 minutes to prevent a skin from forming and the custard from freezing to the metal.
Outfit your ice cream maker and pour in the custard. Follow instructions for your appliance. About 5-10 minutes from completion of churning, add in the cornflake brittle directly to the mixture.
Transfer to airtight containers and freeze.