Mais con hielo

Mais con hielo

We’ve been having a bit of a heat wave here in NL. (Keep in mind that ‘heat wave’ here means ‘perfect weather’ anywhere else.) It was the perfect opportunity to bust out our hidden-way-back-in-the-cabinet ice shaver for some cold treats. Tonight I decided to make a Filipino classic, mais con hielo, and it’s also my entry for this month’s corn-themed Beets N Squash.

When it comes to Filipino cold desserts, halo-halo is the undisputed king. Halo-halo is basically shave ice with milk, then topped with almost anything under the tropical sun: sweet beans, pandan jelly, leche flan, ube (purple yam) jam, ube ice cream, pinipig (crispy rice), jackfruit. If it’s sweet, you’ve probably seen it on halo-halo. It’s like the Vegas of desserts.

Halo Halo
One of many halo-halos I ate during my recent trip to the Philippines

Mais con hielo (literally meaning ‘corn with ice’) is just the opposite. It’s like halo-halo’s humble cousin. It’s the simplest summer dessert ever: sweet corn, shave ice, and whatever milk floats your boat. Some prefer fresh milk, some like evaporated milk, others like to sweeten it with some condensed milk. In the summer, we would eat this all the time at home — I mean, seriously, I loves me some halo-halo, but who has the fifty ingredients lying around to make it?

Although this dessert often makes use of canned corn, you can make it with fresh sweet corn, which has the added benefit of adding a bit of corn ‘milk’ to the mixture when you take it off the cob. (You may want to cook it just a bit in its own liquid after removing from the corn cob).

For the dairy element, I use a neutral ice cream, such as sweet cream rather than vanilla, but if vanilla is what you have, it’ll still taste great, and it also sweetens the mais con hielo so you don’t need to add sugar. I also add a splash of whole milk.

In terms of the shave ice, I think a proper ice shaver is a must. It makes the ice light and fluffy. I’ve never tried crushing it in a food processor (I don’t own a food processor large enough, so it’ll have to remain a mystery to me). If anyone out there uses something else, let me know. A bit more shave ice than the other ingredients, then equal parts corn and ice cream work beautifully, and you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been eating corn for dessert all your life.

Ice shaver
The ice shaver at our house, courtesy of my mom

Mais con hielo
serves 4

About 2 cups shave ice
A pint of vanilla or sweet cream ice cream
2-3 cobs of sweet corn (or a can of crunchy corn kernels)
Whole milk

  1. If you are using fresh corn, scrape the corn kernels off the cob, also catching the liquid. Heat until warm in a saucepan. Cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Assemble the mais con hielo in tall drinking glasses: a half cup of shave ice, followed by a few tablespoons of corn, a scoop of ice cream, then a few more tablespoons of corn. Pour a bit of milk over the whole thing. Crush it all together with a spoon while eating. Hopefully it’s a hot and humid day because this is the best way to enjoy it!

Gourmet Fury: Beets N Squash