Every year I get a number of requests from people looking for a recipe for great Pumpkin Ice Cream. In my book, The Perfect Scoop, I have a recipe for Sweet Potato Ice Cream studded with maple-glazed pecans, but there’s something about the fall that also makes people think squarely of pumpkin. I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, personally, but old traditions die hard. So a Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe got moved to the top of my to-churn list.
As luck would have it, I was leafing through a copy of The Craft of Baking by pastry chef Karen DeMasco, and l thought I’d give her recipe a spin in my ice cream machine. Karen uses canned pumpkin, which a lot of people like to use because it’s easy and consistent. But it’s not so easy to find in Paris. And I’m still a bit old-fashioned and like to make my own puree.
It’s easy to make. Just peel and cube a sugar pumpkin (or a butternut squash, or kuri squash, like I used here), spread the cubes on a baking sheet with a little neutral tasting vegetable oil, and oven roast in a moderately hot oven for 15 or so minutes, until soft when poked with a knife. You can also cook the cubes in a pot of water on the stovetop until tender, then drain them well before pureeing.
The kuri squash that I used are intensely flavored and colored, and the skin is edible, hence the lovely little orange flecks in the ice cream. I added some spice and a dash of whiskey at the end, which pairs nicely with the flavor of the pumpkin and gives the ice cream a creamy, scoopable consistency.
So I’ve got a batch in my freezer, in preparation for the holidays. I’m thinking of serving it alongside gingerbread, but it would also make a wonderful base for some ice cream puffs with warm salted butter caramel sauce and toasted nuts. Or even atop Warm Individual Spiced Chocolate cakes.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Inspired by The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
If using canned pumpkin, make sure to find one that’s 100% pumpkin. Often you’ll find cans of Pumpkin Pie Filling, which usually has spices and sweetener already added.
Press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer before freezing, as directed. Pumpkin can be slightly grainy and straining the custard is a good idea to help smooth it out.
1 1/2 cups (375ml) whole milk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (95g) granulated sugar
big pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (180g) fresh or canned 100% pure pumpkin puree (see directions in post to make your own)
1/4 cup packed (60g) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger
a few turns of ground black pepper
optional: 2 teaspoons whiskey or brandy
1. Make an ice bath by putting some ice and a little water in a large bowl and nest a medium-sized metal bowl (one that will hold at least 2 quarts, 2l) inside it. Set a mesh strainer over the top. Pour the cream into the smaller bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, granulated sugar, and salt. Whisk together the egg yolks in a separate bowl.
3. Whisk about half of the warm milk into the yolks, stirring constantly.
5. Scrape the warmed yolks back in to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read between 160º-170ºF (71º-76ºC).
6. Immediately pour the mixture through the strainer into the heavy cream, in the bowl nested in the ice bath. Stir for a few minutes until it’s cool, then puree the custard in a blender with the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and whiskey or brandy, if using. (Wipe the bottom of the bowl dry before pouring as you don’t wan to get any water into the custard mixture.) Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
7. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Variations: Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 cups (250 – 320 g) white or milk chocolate chips, crushed caramel, chopped up Skor or Daim (toffee) bars, or chopped toasted pecans or walnuts. A bit of chopped candied ginger would be nice, too. Leftover bits of crumbled gingersnaps or gingerbread, or even toasted bits of brown bread or gingerbread could also be folded in, or crumbled on top for serving.
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