Char Your Corn For a Smokier, More Robust-Tasting Mais con Hielo

April 15, 2018

As temperatures rise, you can count on an ice-cold glass of mais con hielo to cool down. A variation of palamig, or “coolers”—a genre of Filipino drink-slash-desserts that, true their name, are meant to cool down in the tropical weather—mais con hielo features layers of shaved ice, sweet corn kernels (or canned creamed style corn in some variations), and milk (often of the evaporated sort for extra richness) in a glass for thirsty diners to mix up on their own. But as much as we love its classic sweet, creamy profile, there are times we like our sweets with more robustness, with more vigor, and with better depth of flavor.

With that, we look toward the summer staple of inihaw na mais. Though appealing in its own sweet, juicy way when fresh, corn especially benefits over the blazing heat of the grill; its exterior develops a slightly savory char while its natural sweetness intensifies, amping up its telltale flavor. Grilling also infuses corn with a smokiness which not only adds a welcome dimension against milk’s creaminess, but also works surprisingly well in dessert applications—even across the opposite end of the temperature spectrum.

Charred Corn Mais con Hielo

  • Serves: 2 servings
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 cobs corn
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Shaved ice, for serving


  1. Shuck and clean corn then pat completely dry.
  2. Rub each cob of corn in softened butter.
  3. Heat a grill over high heat.
  4. Place the buttered corn on the grill and cook until corn is tender, about 8 minutes.
  5. When the corn begins to darken, sprinkle the
    sugar evenly over each cob and continue to cook
    until caramelized and the corn is charred.
  6. Remove from the heat and rest until cool enough to handle.
  7. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob
    and set aside.
  8. In a bowl or pitcher, combine the evaporated
    milk, condensed milk, and salt.
  9. In tall glasses, layer the grilled corn and shaved
  10. Top with sweetened milk and serve.
Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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