Mark 'end' of season with rum ice cream

It's Labor Day weekend, and we jump the gun to celebrate the "end" of summer nearly three weeks early. Makes no sense since the best, biggest crabs are yet to come, and September is the finest month for an ocean swim.

But we won't argue with a holiday weekend and the chance to do some fun, unhurried cooking, maybe have some friends over.

Besides, what to do with the Sea Island Spice Rum from Firefly Distillery that I bought some weeks ago? Make a summery ice cream.

This recipe was sparked by the "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home" cookbook that came out this summer (Artisan, $23.95). Jeni and Charly Bauer founded their namesake shop in Columbus, Ohio, nearly 10 years ago.

Her style is farm-to-cone, so to speak, and thus you'll find creative ice cream flavors within the pages of the book: Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry, Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk, Sweet Potato With Torched Marshmallows.

This recipe is a variation on Jeni's Cognac Ice Cream.

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 cup rum (or spiced rum)

1/2 cup toasted coconut

Directions

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the rum.

Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon sealable freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. Add the toasted coconut to the mixture (or as you pack the ice cream into the storage container).

Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of an ice cream machine and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.