From cinnamon to honey, classic Mexican dessert ingredients range from earthy to sweet. So do the notes of tequila. An unaged variety has the sweetness of blue agave, but as it matures in the barrel, notes of vanilla, spice, and oak develop. For this no-churn Mexican ice cream, I incorporated añejo for its smooth and smoky qualities, which bring out the deep side of vanilla.
You can skip the tequila altogether to make this dessert suitable for everyone, but I recommend making one batch for adults and a separate one for kids, since it adds a flavor you won’t want to miss.
As if the tequila and vanilla weren’t enough to tempt you, a crunchy cinnamon mixture and swirls of honey bring even more Mexican dessert flavors into the mix. Best of all, no ice cream maker is required.
1 cup corn flakes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pint heavy cream
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons añejo tequila
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground vanilla
Honey for drizzling
A note on tequila: In order of age, tequila is classified as blanco, reposado, añejo, or extra añejo. While I recommend añejo, another variety can be substituted, but it will change the overall flavor of the ice cream. Notes of tequila range from citrus to tobacco depending on barrel age, with younger tequila having more herbaceous, sometimes harsh qualities. More time in the barrel yields a spirit that is smooth and sippable, with complex flavors including spice, vanilla, and coffee.
Once your tequila is selected, you are ready to begin. Crush the corn flakes in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and crushed flakes. Cook briefly until the mixture becomes toasty and all the ingredients are well-incorporated. Set aside to cool.
Pour the cream into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk until the cream is whipped and can hold stiff peaks.
Stir together the sweetened condensed milk, tequila, vanilla extract, ground vanilla, and pinch of salt. Add the corn flake mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Gently fold in half of the whipped cream and then the other half.
Pour half of the ice cream mixture into a standard size loaf pan, such as a 9×5-inch metal pan. Drizzle liberally with honey and use a knife to swirl it Layer in the remaining mixture, drizzle and swirl more honey, and freeze for at least 6 hours or until firm.
Ice cream is the ideal make-ahead dessert. Prep this ahead of time for easy entertaining, or whip up a batch and have it ready for impromptu gatherings.