Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries

Muffin-Cup Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberrie

20 Jun Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries

Muffin-Cup Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberrie

Day 5. Recipe 5. I’m out of barbecue tools and the propane’s running low. What I’m not short on is enthusiasm for my new grill.

Every day this week I’ve been serving up dishes designed for flame and test driving grill gadgets sent to me courtesy Ontario Gas BBQ. If you like protein, there’s plenty to choose from. I made Herbed Rotisserie Chicken, the Moroccan Prime Rib and Italian Turkey Balls. I even offer a crunchy side of Spicy Grilled Broccolini for balance and a bit of green. Having looked after the main course, I’m closing off the #OGBChallenge with something you don’t associate with grills. Ice cream. If I do say so myself, I’ve saved the best for last. And by “best”, of course, I mean “dessert.”

My love of sweets is perhaps greater than the norm. While most people enjoy a good dessert, are they willing to drive  an hour in horrific winter weather conditions just to sample smoked sugar?  Are they willing to spend $112 on an ice cream maker so they could satisfy the craving for cinnamon ice cream while simultaneously salvaging dried out brownies? I thought not.

I have done both. And I don’t regret either irrational act. So when I opened my tool kit and found a cold smoker, wood chips and the mandate of dessert, there was only one course of action. Smoked Sugar. What would I do with that sugar? I’d make ice cream.

Making Smoked Sugar with smoker and pecan pellets

The Challenge

Dessert, American style, pellet smoker  and pecan pellets.

The Results

Smokey, sweet deliciousness. The difference between smoked sugar and regular sugar is similar to the difference between a marshmallow straight from the bag and one toasted to golden perfection over glowing red embers. Even without the caramelization that occurs on the outer layer of campfire marshmallows, smoked sugar maintains a subtle smokey layer that turns it into a unique ingredient. One worthy of ice cream. And berries.

The  Dessert

Knowing most people don’t have an ice cream maker, I’ve tweaked a classic French vanilla ice cream to make it a no-churn, portion-controlled treat. There’s no need to hunt down the scoop that mysteriously wanders from its assigned drawer. No cries that So-and-So got more. And best of all, no styrofoamesque supermarket cones to shatter at the first bite. This dessert delivers pre-poured muffin-shaped mounds of smoky ice cream topped with local Ontario berries.

Summer’s here. Grab a spoon.

Muffin-cup Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries

Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries
Recipe type: Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
Cuisine: North American
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Smoked sugar makes this no-churn ice cream taste like it was toasted on a campfire. Strawberries roasted with smoked sugar help make the most of the summer BBQ season.
  • ⅓ cup [75 mL] pecan wood pellets
  • 1 cup [125 mL] granulated sugar
  • 1 quart [1L] strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • ¼ cup [60 mL] smoked sugar (from above)
  • 2 cups [500 mL] heavy cream
  • 1 cup [125 mL] whole milk
  • ¾ cup [175 mL] smoked sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split down middle with seeds scraped out
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp [5 mL] pure vanilla extract
  1. Turn grill onto low and heat to 275° F / 135°C. Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
Smoked Sugar and Roasted Berries
  1. Place smoker on the grill and sprinkle ⅓ cup (75 mL) of pecan chips in the smoker. Spread the sugar on the foil-lined pan and place on the grill beside smoker. Close the lid and leave until the wood chips have turned to ash, about 90 minutes.
  2. Remove smoker and increase grill heat to medium (about 450°F /230°C).
  3. Lift foil from pan and use it to funnel the sugar into a bowl. Return foil to the pan, spread sliced berries evenly on the foil and sprinkle with ¼ cup (60 ml) of the smoked sugar.
  4. Place pan on grill, close the lid and roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until the berries are cooked and running with juice. Scrape berries into a container, allow to cool. Cover and chill until ready to serve on ice cream.
Smoke Sugar Ice Cream
  1. Place the cream, milk, smoked sugar and vanilla pod in a large pan over medium heat. Heat until bubbles form around edge of pan. Turn off heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare an ice bath and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. If you double the liners they ice cream will be easier to remove once frozen.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the yolks, whisking all the time. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, add the vanilla extract and place in into the ice bath, whisking until cool (about 5 minutes, tops). Pour the custard into the muffin papers, cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, defrost at room temperature for 5 minutes. Remove the cups from the tin, peel liner from the ice cream, then drizzle with the berries and their sauce (warmed or room temperature).


Disclosure: Occasionally, I work with sponsors when I feel their product or service fits my from-scratch, real-food mentality. This is one of those times. Every day this week, I and 4 other challengers are posting a BBQ recipe as part of the #OGBChallenge. This event is sponsored by Ontario Gas BBQ. They gave me the grill tools and are compensating me for creating and posting the recipes. Although the tools are used in creating the recipes, I am under no obligation to review the tool or Ontario Gas BBQ as a retailer. As always, I’m just here for the food.

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  • Stephanie @ kitchen frolic
    Posted at 12:07h, 20 June Reply

    Wow. Game over. Charmian – this is stunning. I LOVE ice cream and love making it at home as I find I can control the sugar and flavouring. I love everything in this recipe – can’t wait to try it myself!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:54h, 20 June Reply

      Thanks so much. Gotta say, it’ll be hard to beat your pulled pork! I’ve been so impressed with everyone’s contributions. So many techniques and flavours! I have a whole new love for my grill.

  • Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    Posted at 13:03h, 20 June Reply

    This is awesome! Love the combination of strawberries and pecan smoked sugar. I’ll definitely be trying this one over the summer.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:08h, 20 June Reply

      Thanks. It’s so hard to beat strawberries, sugar and cream. If you do make this, I’d love to hear how it turns out for you!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    Posted at 06:50h, 21 June Reply

    Seeing all your grill recipes have been found. The grill scares me. We just bought a house last Fall. My husband is itching to upgrade our grill to something bigger and more permanent. I am talking myself into the courage to use it. This is my favorite recipe yet!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:46h, 21 June Reply

      Thanks, Emily. This was my favourite recipe of the challenge, too.

      Don’t be afraid of the grill. The new ones have temperature gauges on the front, which are invaluable for getting the heat right. You can buy a $20 meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked enough to be safe but not overcooked. AND the new ignitions work nicely so the grill lights on the first go. Just be sure to follow the lighting and shutting down instructions and you should be fine. Older grills were a bit more challenging, but or new one is a breeze. My previous mishap was minor and completely avoidable!

  • Vanessa
    Posted at 13:09h, 21 June Reply

    WOW! I want to try this immediately! Where do I find a smoker and such delightful pellets?

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 19:27h, 22 June Reply

    Can’t wait to try making the smoked sugar. Have you tried smoking flour?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:02h, 23 June Reply

      I’ve never tried smoking flour. I know roasting flour affects the gluten and baked goods don’t hold their structure, even though the taste is supposed to be amazing. Does smoking affect the gluten? I’d love to know if anyone’s tried this.

      Thanks for mentioning this intriguing new option!

      • Carolyn
        Posted at 17:13h, 29 June Reply

        I tried smoking flour and sugar. Great success, I think! I have a big green egg, so I was able to set it up to smoke with real wood chips and smoked it at a very low temperature . I smoked both the sugar and flour for much less time than you did, but achieved a strong smoky flavour in both. I used the smoked flour and 1/4 cup of the sugar for chocolate chip cookies, because I thought it would allow the smoked flavour would compliment the toffee/chocolate flavours. The cookies spread a bit more than usual. I think the next time I’ll smoke bread flour since it has a bit more gluten. and see if that helps with the spread. Overall, the flavour was terrific and I will make again. (Next up, I will smoke some rolled oats for oatmeal cookies…). Thanks again for the idea of smoking sugar.

        • Charmian Christie
          Posted at 17:39h, 29 June Reply

          Thanks so much for the detailed report on how you smoked your sugar and flour. Interesting how the different grills smoke at different paces. As for the smoked flour, bread flour might do the trick. Please keep me posted.

          I love the idea of smoking oats. Oh, I adore oatmeal cookies and can’t imagine how they’d taste with a bit of smokiness layered in. I’ll have to try that with the remains of my pecan pellets. Wish I had a Big Green Egg. If I win this challenge, which is unlikely given the amazing competition, I might get myself one.

  • A Canadian Foodie
    Posted at 11:29h, 26 June Reply

    My first thought – where in &^%* did you ever get the idea to smoke sugar – and then at the end of your post was the link to the meal you went to in 2012 where you “drove all night (to music)” for smoked sugar… if this post doesn’t sell this company out of their smoker supplies and smoke chips – nothing will. Hope they paid you a big fat check as well as supplying you with the equipment. Fantastic post. Inspirational, novel and just in time for Strawberry Season!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:43h, 26 June Reply

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic endorsement. It was a fun experiment. I have been intrigued by smoked sugar for a while and was thrilled to be able to try my hand at it.

      If it wasn’t clear from my disclosure I was given the equipment and paid for my time. It’s not enough to retire on, but I have one more item struck from my culinary bucket list.

      Happy Strawberry Season!

  • adrian @ the food gays
    Posted at 13:44h, 30 June Reply

    so love the idea of smoking sugar. i wonder if you can buy it pre-smoked? this is something i must try! thanks for the inspiring recipe!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:54h, 30 June Reply

      Thanks for your enthusiasm. I doubt you can get it pre-smoked — yet. But who knows? If this idea catches on some sharp entrepreneur will be on it faster than charcoal produces embers.

  • Ontario Gas BBQ recipe challenge: Vote and you could win.
    Posted at 20:31h, 08 July Reply

    […] Bread Pudding with Coconut Caramel Sauce that made me swoon, as did The Messy Baker’s Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with Roasted Strawberries (if I asked my man he’d probably tell me that he’s smoked sugar before, though […]

  • Ontario Gas BBQ Challenge with Charmian Christie (The Messy Baker) | (YYZ)gourmand
    Posted at 15:49h, 04 September Reply

    […] CC: I’ve done pizzas and really loved the charred crust the hot grill creates. It’s perfect for flatbreads and anything baked quickly on high heat. Beyond that, I don’t really bake much on the grill since most of my recipes require a precise heat. However, it’s great for grilling fruit to top oven-baked goods like scones, or smoking sugar to use in desserts. My husband’s still talking about the smoked sugar ice cream. […]

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