Roasted Cinnamon Ice Cream

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Decadently rich and smooth, with the warm and unapologetic taste of cinnamon. Roasting the ground spice releases some of the natural oils and gives the finished custard a dark, intense flavour. I’ve used two forms of cinnamon, ground and stick, to layer the flavour and give a profound, complex taste to the ice cream. For a more powerful cinnamon taste, use cassia; but for a more delicate, nuanced flavour, opt for true cinnamon. The Vanilla Bean variation that follows is also lusciously flavourful, with two whole fat beans imparting a big vanilla flavour. You can vary the flavour by using different kinds of vanilla beans: Mexican beans will yield a robust, rich flavour; Bourbon-Madagascar beans will give a more mellow, sweet taste; and Tahitian beans will impart a slightly floral, delicate flavour. Either of these ice creams is excellent as an accompaniment to other desserts, but they are truly special by themselves, with a drizzle of a chocolate ganache, a fresh berry coulis or nothing at all!

About4 cups


Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationgluten-free, halal, high-calcium, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentice cream maker


Taste and Texturecreamy, spiced, sweet

Type of Dishdessert, frozen dessert, ice cream


  • 2 teaspoons good-quality ground cassia or cinnamon
  • 2 cups half and half cream (10%)
  • 1 large cinnamon or cassia stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (36%)


  1. In a small, dry, non-stick skillet over low heat, toast the ground cinnamon until it is warm to the touch and fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes: Keep the spice moving, either by shaking the pan or by stirring, to prevent scorching. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

  2. In a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan, combine the half-and-half cream and the pieces of cinnamon stick. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring just to the boil, watching closely so the cream doesn’t boil over. As soon as bubbles break the surface, remove the pot from the heat and let the custard infuse for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Beat just until it pales and thickens ever so slightly. Place a damp kitchen towel around the base of the bowl to keep it still and whisk in the hot cream, a little at a time, until it is all incorporated.

  3. Rinse out the saucepan but don’t dry it; this will help prevent the custard from sticking to the bottom. Have ready a fine strainer set over a clean bowl. Return the custard mixture to the pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to 10 minutes. A finger drawn across the back of the spoon should leave a clean trail. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer and set aside for a moment.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream to the roasted cinnamon and use a rubber spatula to blend into a thick, smooth paste. Add another 2 tablespoons of the cream and work this in until the mixture is about the consistency of a spreadable icing. Whisk the cinnamon paste into the hot strained custard until smooth. Stir in the remaining whipping cream and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent it from forming a skin. Poke a few holes in the plastic to allow steam to escape and place the bowl in the refrigerator until very cold, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

  5. Process the chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the softly frozen ice cream to a freezable dish and freeze until firm. This richly flavoured ice cream is wonderful on its own, but makes an exceptionally good accompaniment to many other desserts. Although best within a few days of being made, this ice cream can be stored for up to 1 week.


  7. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: Omit the ground cinnamon from the above recipe and substitute 2 plump vanilla beans, split and scraped out, for the cinnamon sticks, using both the hulls and seeds. After the cream has come just to the boil, remove it from the heat and let it infuse for 10 minutes. Return the pot to the burner and bring the mixture just below the boil. Proceed with the recipe above, leaving the vanilla bean hulls in the custard until it is cold. Remove the hulls before processing the custard in the ice cream maker.


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