7 Sweet Ways To Turn Canned Corn Into Dessert

"I can't imagine a more beautiful thing," said the Instagram-famous "corn kid" while chowing down on a cob of corn. His love of corn made him an internet sensation, perhaps because many of us feel the same way. It's easy to take the readily available grain/fruit/vegetable (corn's categorizing is complicated) for granted, but throughout human history, many civilizations have agreed that those simple yellow kernels are one of the greatest foods on Earth.

Corn is undoubtedly one of the most versatile foods out there, being utilized in cuisines around the world in a host of unique ways. Not only can corn be used to make delicious bread, tortillas, and savory side dishes, but its natural sweetness makes it a great addition to desserts as well. Though few things compare to fresh summer corn, a can of corn has its place in the culinary world, too. Next time you have canned corn in the pantry that you're not sure what to do with, consider turning it into one of these delicious desserts.

Make sweet corn pudding

When it comes to corn pudding for dessert, we're not talking about the Southern casserole-style side dish. In several regions around the world, corn pudding is a dessert dish that differs greatly from American corn pudding. If you want to turn your canned corn into a Caribbean treat, try out majarete. It's a popular corn dessert in countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and is created by simmering corn, milk, coconut milk, corn starch, and sugar, flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. It's then chilled and served cold, resulting in a refreshing, creamy, and corny sweet treat.

Curau de milho is Brazil's version of dessert corn pudding. Often eaten during Festa Junina, this dessert has similar ingredients to majarete sans coconut milk. It can also be enjoyed warm or cold. While fresh corn is traditionally used to make this dish, you certainly can make it with canned corn, though you'll have to add corn starch to help thicken the consistency.

Another variation of corn pudding is chè bắp, a Vietnamese corn pudding. This one doesn't get blended, so the pudding is full of whole corn kernels, similar to sweet creamed corn, though this pudding is made with coconut milk and tapioca and often served with the addition of glutinous rice. Again, this dish is typically made with fresh corn but canned whole corn kernels can be used too.

Turn your canned corn into ice cream

Corn-flavored ice cream is a popular frozen sweet treat in Mexico, and it's rapidly becoming more common in scoop shops elsewhere. For example, popular store brand Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams made seasonal sweet corn and black raspberry flavor for years. 

Plenty of recipes utilize the convenience of canned corn for this summer treat, and it's much more effortless to make ice cream than you might think. The easiest way would be to make a simple base like this two-ingredient no-churn ice cream recipe that requires only a can of sweetened condensed milk and heavy whipping cream. One way to add canned corn to this recipe would be to drain the can, puree the kernels in a food processor, and fold it into the ice cream mixture before freezing. 

The result is a yellow, creamy, and refreshing corn dessert. Spice it up or sweeten it to taste, or top it with fresh blackberries to elevate the summer-fresh flavor. And once you have the corn ice cream on hand, try out a recipe for cornbread ice cream sandwiches.

Bake pastel de elote

Mexico is the land of plentiful corn, and the grain holds an important role in the nation's history, dating back to the Mayans, who believed humans were originally created from corn. There is no shortage of corn-based dishes in Mexican cuisine, and that includes a variety of traditional desserts. Sweet corn cake, or pastel de elote, is one of those Mexican staples and can easily be made with canned corn.

It's made using the typical cake ingredients: flour, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, with variations also including condensed milk and cinnamon. The canned corn kernels are typically drained and blended into a smooth consistency in a food processor before adding to the batter, though they can also be added whole if such a texture is desired. After baking, the cake is often drizzled with cajeta, a Mexican caramel sauce, and served with ice cream or whipped cream. It's sure to be a delectable corn-centric hit.

Make sweet corn cookies

Momofuku Milk Bar put corn cookies on the map. Founder Christina Tosi told The Washington Post, "My mom grew up in the cornfields of Ohio ... and finding this idealized version of cornbread in cookie form was something I just knew I had to do, and the reason the corn cookie exists." Momofuku's recipe for corn cookies calls for freeze-dried corn powder, but it is possible to make corn cookies with a can of creamed corn as well.

In addition to the usual cookie ingredients like flour, sugar, and eggs, canned corn can be inserted into the mix, though there is a technique to follow. When using canned creamed corn for cookies, one should drain and strain the corn, then heat that liquid with cream and sugar in order to make a "corn caramel" that will ultimately give the cookie batter its corn flavor, though cornmeal is also utilized. So next time you're looking for a cookie with a unique twist, reach for that can of creamed corn and give a corn cookie recipe a go.

Try this dessert from the Philippines

Maja Blanca is a beloved dessert in the Philippines, often eaten during holidays and festivities, and is made with the essential ingredient of corn. Maja blanca begins with simmered coconut milk, into which condensed milk, cream, sugar, and corn are added. Optional cheese may also be added. After the mixture cooks on the stove for about 15 minutes, cornstarch that has been dissolved in evaporated milk is added to the pot, which will thicken the mixture and help it set correctly. Next, it gets poured into molds and chilled. The result is a creamy texture with a pudding-like consistency, topped with toasted coconut and corn kernels.

This Filipino dessert is reportedly adapted from the Spanish dessert manjar blanco, meaning "white delicacy." And indeed, the texture is delicate and light, making this a great option for those looking to turn their canned corn into a simple yet surprising postprandial sweet treat.

Indulge in some old-fashioned corn fritters

While many corn fritters are served with more savory dishes or as a side to dinner, there's no reason not to make them into dessert and treat them like the corny donuts they really are. The process to make dessert corn fritters would be the same as many savory corn fritter recipes, using a mixture of flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, and canned cream-style corn, all fried in oil to golden-brown perfection. If the recipe has savory spices like paprika, you could opt to leave those out.

There are several ways to spice up corn fritters, but dusting them with powdered sugar is the most obvious route to make them into a delightful dessert. However, they could also be dipped in maple syrup, caramel, or honey. The corn flavor also pairs nicely with fruits, and a blackberry jam or fruity syrup would also be a great accouterment for the fritters. In general, corn fritters demonstrate corn's versatility and how easily it can be enjoyed as a savory or sweet treat.

Add canned corn to fruit cobblers

Few things say summer more than a syrupy and sweet fruit cobbler. It might sound like a strange combination at first, but adding corn to a fruit cobbler is an easy way to put a twist on the classic dessert. There are certainly cobbler recipes that already combine corn with fruits like blackberry and peach, but really, corn could be added to any pre-existing family-favorite cobbler recipe. So if you have a can of sweet corn on the shelf, why not experiment with different flavor combinations?

While you can get as creative as you like, corn particularly pairs well with fruits like blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. For example, drain a can of sweet corn and add it to the blueberries in this Southern blueberry cobbler recipe. Adding corn to a cobbler gives a little firmness to the soft fruit mixture and imparts the dessert with a hint of the unexpected, both texturally and in terms of flavor.