Hokey pokey is the unofficial ice cream flavor of New Zealand. It starts off with a rich and creamy vanilla ice cream base and contains bits of honeycomb toffee. Try this Kiwi favorite without having to travel halfway around the world!
In 2008, I had the honor of visiting a country that many of my friends have not visited: New Zealand. My aunt and uncle left Taiwan many years ago so their sons (my cousins) would not have to endure the mandatory military training required of all 18-year old boys.
New Zealand is made up of two main islands: The North Island and the South Island. The North Island is where the majority of its residents reside, including the capital city of Auckland. The South Island is best known for its lush greenery, sheep and mountains. The Lord of the Rings films were filmed there.
When we were en route to Auckland, the airline offered a treat called Hokey Pokey. Up until then, the only Hokey Pokey I knew of was the kids’ song where you shake various body parts and act silly. I had no idea that it was the name of an ice cream. Essentially, it is a vanilla ice cream containing bits of honeycomb toffee.
We learned that Hokey Pokey was the unofficial ice cream for the Kiwis. Hokey Pokey ice cream was everywhere that we went, and we definitely enjoyed our fair share when we visited. We had a few more small containers of it on our flight back to the United States and was sad that our wonderful country didn’t sell this flavor.
I don’t know what has taken me so long to recreate this flavor, but I should have done it many years ago. You can start off with your favorite vanilla ice cream base. I used one from Jeni’s since it doesn’t require egg yolks, but you can certainly use whatever you like (even store-bought, but I recommend a high-quality one). I made the honeycomb toffee in about 10 minutes, and it dried in about the same time it took to churn the ice cream.
My husband was very giddy when I told him I was making Hokey Pokey ice cream. Addie was intrigued by the name and thought it had something to do with the dance she learned at school. We all loved this ice cream. Jeni’s ice cream base was smooth and creamy, and the chunks of honeycomb coffee provided a nice crunchy texture. Some of the honeycomb bits melted into a caramel-like swirl, which made the ice cream even more enjoyable.
If you’re not taking a trip to New Zealand soon, at least you can make one of their famous desserts. I’m sad that no major ice cream manufacturer makes this flavor, but at least I know I can recreate it at home.
Hokey pokey ice cream
Ice cream base
- 2 cups whole milk divided
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons golden syrup can substitute with light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Make the ice cream base
- In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese with the sea salt until well combined. Set a fine mesh sieve above it and set aside.
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, sugar and corn syrup on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.
- Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.
- Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the cream cheese/salt. Add the mint extract and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.
- At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Make the honeycomb
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside. In a medium sized nonstick pot, melt the sugar and golden syrup over medium heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow to boil for another 4-5 minutes or until the liquid becomes a deep amber color. Turn the stove off, take the pot off the stove and quickly stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble and turn lighter in color. Quickly pour the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it out. Once the syrup hardens, break into small chunks.
Assemble the ice cream
- Once the ice cream base is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Stir in the broken chunks of honeycomb and freeze for at least 4 hours.