We’re in the middle of a heat wave in Central Ohio. Today, we hit 94 degrees, and tomorrow is supposed to be 99. I don’t think anything is better on a hot day than ice cream. I’ve been making a lot of ice cream and sorbet lately, thanks to an inspirational new cookbook from Columbus’ own ice cream luminary, Jeni Britton Bauer. Her recipes use cornstarch and cream cheese to thicken them rather than eggs, and the result is my favorite ice cream in the world.

After Janna and I made some batches directly from the book (bananas and honey, backyard mint, apricot/ale sorbet with my brother’s homebrewed beer and raspberry sorbet) I thought I’d strike out a bit on my own. Taking the basics of one of Jeni’s recipes, I made an ice cream that feels right for godawful hot days, taking inspiration from the deserts of Mexico.

I found some prickly pear cactus fruit at the grocery store this week, and the idea of a prickly pear/tequila ice cream seemed too intriguing not to try. Here’s my recipe, modified from Jeni’s.

Tequila Ice Cream with Prickly Pear Syrup
2 cups whole mik
1 1/4 cups heavy crea
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 1/2 tbsp cream cheese
4 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup tequila
2 prickly pear cactus fruits peeled and crushed
1/3 cup sugar

First, make prickly pear syrup – cook the crushed prickly pears with the sugar in a small saucepan until it thickens. Push it through a sieve to get rid of the seeds and cool.

Next, add the milk minus 2 tbsp, cream, sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil for three minutes. Bring off the heat and add the corn starch mixed with the reserved milk. Bring to a boil for one more minute, then whisk in the cream cheese and salt. Cool to room temp, then add the tequila. Chill for a few hours, then put the mixture into an ice cream maker. When it’s fully frozen, drizzle in the prickly pear syrup slowly. Don’t overmix.

The flavor of the tequila (I used Patron) comes through, but there isn’t much of an alcohol taste. It’s slightly salty, like you’d want a margarita to be, and the cactus syrup (which doesn’t freeze so much as firm up a bit) adds an interesting texture.