Blue Moon Ice Cream Recipe

Blue Moon ice cream is a mystery wrapped in an enigma and covered in blue food coloring.

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Serious Eats / Alexandra Penfold

Why It Works

  • Raspberry flavoring, lemon oil, and vanilla provide the base of flavor.
  • Blue gel food coloring gives the ice cream its signature vivid blue color.

While researching Grape-Nuts ice cream, I came across a host of other regional ice cream flavors I'd never heard of. The most intriguing among them was a magical blue ice cream called Blue Moon.

Popular throughout the Midwest, Blue Moon was reputedly invented in Milwaukee in the 1950s. Nostalgic fans on Chowhound lovingly described it as having a "nuclear turquoise color" and tasting "kinda fruity, but not really." Blue Moon is not blueberry ice cream. It's not really any sort of recognizable fruit. Blue Moon purveyors tend to keep their recipe a closely guarded secret so speculation abounds as to what gives it that unique flavor. Some swear it's just almond extract while others say it's nutmeg. Growing up in New England, I never experienced real Blue Moon ice cream, but it sounded an awful lot like a cherished childhood indulgence: Smurf ice cream.

"I'll admit as a child I never really stopped to think about what might be in Smurf ice cream other than blueness, marshmallows, and love."

If you asked seven-year-old me what my favorite ice cream flavor was, I would have said without hesitation: Smurf. Yes, Smurf ice cream, a magical blue, marshmallow-studded concoction that's supposed to be some sort of cotton candy/bubble gum/blue raspberry flavor, but tastes like a sequin top hat-wearing unicorn tap dancing on a Ferris wheel—it's that magical. As a kid in Southern Connecticut, this enchanting flavor could only be found at Sweet Claude's in Cheshire. We didn't often get out to Cheshire, but you can be sure that when we did, I ordered Smurf ice cream. Every. Single. Time.

I'll admit as a child I never really stopped to think about what might be in Smurf ice cream other than blueness, marshmallows, and love. It's been years since I've had Smurf ice cream and I've never enjoyed a proper Blue Moon ice cream, but one bite of this homemade batch brought back a flood of memories of Smurfier days.

There's no consensus on what exactly the flavor is other than sweet and good, and I suspect different creameries throughout the Midwest have their own special formulas. On my hunt for a recipe to cook up a batch of Blue Moon ice cream at home, I discovered one on Food.com involving raspberry flavoring, lemon oil, and instant vanilla pudding that looked very promising and seemed to jive with what I remember Smurf ice cream, a marshmallow studded blue raspberryish concoction, tasted like. This is adapted from that recipe.

I used Boyajian's natural raspberry flavoring and lemon oil which you can find online or at a baking supply store. To get a vivid blue color, I recommend using gel food coloring which provides a more intense color.

A word of caution: My seven-year-old self also lived for Peeps and similar toothache-inducing sweets. Blue Moon ice cream and its Smurf counterpart are sweet, sweet, sweet and bright blue. If either of these things is a turnoff, you might leave this flavor to the kiddos and the young at heart. Anyone left standing grab a spoon and dig in!

July 2012

Recipe Facts

3.5

(2)

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 4 hrs
Active: 30 mins
Freezing Time: 3 hrs
Total: 7 hrs 5 mins
Serves: 6 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 large egg yolks (30g)

  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces; 100g), divided

  • 2 cups (450ml) heavy cream

  • 1 cup (225ml) whole milk

  • 1 tablespoon (12g) instant vanilla pudding mix

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) raspberry flavoring

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon blue gel food coloring (about 2 drops)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar and set aside.

  2. In a medium saucepan, add cream, milk, and remaining sugar. Whisking occasionally, heat mixture over medium-low heat until bubbles begin to form along the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and add heated cream mixture to the eggs one tablespoon at a time while whisking constantly to temper the eggs.

  3. Once cream mixture and eggs have been combined, return to saucepan and heat on medium-low until mixture coats back of a spoon or spatula and line drawn with a finger leaves a distinct trail. Mixture should register 170 to 175°F (77 to 79°C), do not allow mixture to overheat.

  4. Pour custard into a medium bowl and whisk in vanilla pudding mix until thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in raspberry flavoring, lemon oil, vanilla extract, and blue food coloring until thoroughly incorporated. Set bowl over an ice bath. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, then cover and refrigerate for 2 more hours or up to overnight until completely chilled. Churn chilled custard according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Transfer ice cream into a bowl or container that will hold 1 quart. Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours to fully set. Serve.

Special Equipment

Electric ice cream maker, whisk

Notes

To convert this recipe into Smurf ice cream, churn ice cream according to manufacturer's directions, adding one cup of mini marshmallow in the last five minutes of churning to evenly distribute.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
396 Calories
32g Fat
21g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 396
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 20g 99%
Cholesterol 186mg 62%
Sodium 68mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 113mg 9%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 158mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)