Yearning to churn pumpkin ice cream

image_1Is it strange to crave ice cream in the fall? Is it odd that, as everything is cooling off (sort of), I want cold, cold items, as if to hasten my beloved chilly temperatures? Apparently not. Recently Saveur magazine posted an array of autumn-inspired flavors imbued with apple, ginger and spices (even pepper!). Ice cream should not be relegated to the summer months (particularly if you are in California and have had the 90-degree October days we have been having).

Now that the autumnal season has arrived, and the pumpkin — in all its forms — has landed. I begin to think about a pumpkin ice cream recipe I tried several years ago, and find myself longing (as if Pavlov had connected my tastebuds to the waning summer sun) for again! I have served it a couple of times as part of a two-course dessert at Thanksgiving (which, two-course desserts at Thanksgiving must now be a must).

gingThe original recipe is from “The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies & Other Sweets with Idea for Inventing Your Own.” by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (2009). Pastry Chef David Leibovitz also has a version on his website, where he encourages the use of fresh pumpkin, if so desired.

A simple custard is prepared by heating milk, cream, brown sugar, a vanilla bean, freshly grated ginger, cinnamon and a cinnamon stick until boiling. This creates a heavenly, spicy steam for your kitchen, by the way. It should be a candle fragrance.

image_3One cup of the hot milk mixture is whisked into egg yolks whipped with sugar. Then all is added back into the hot milk saucepan along with nutmeg and salt.

This mixture must be chilled thoroughly, overnight. Where is the pumpkin, you may be wondering? After the custard is chilled, you whisk the pumpkin in. Then, the churning begins.

image_4I have rhapsodized on my love for my ice cream maker before. Unlike the autumn sun, it has not waned. Once I find all the components (herein lies the challenge…do keep all your ice cream maker parts together, and where you can find them), and I set the churn up, pouring that ice cream custard into the spinning, frozen canister, to me, has come to conjure up the feeling of setting a favorite old record on a phonograph to play (yes, I can remember that far back.). The gentle motor hums, the pale orange mixture you have poured in begins to turn from cream to ice cream. You check it periodically to see, first, small frozen bits, then an eventual thickening to the best soft-serve you can stick a small (or large) spoon into.

churnThis ice cream is a winner, like a frozen pumpkin pie, only a softer in flavor and so creamy. The first Thanksgiving I served it to my very grateful guest, she ate a serving (along with a slice of coconut cream pie), drizzled with warm caramel sauce (a marvelous combination). After a little post-dessert chat, she became silent, staring at her ice cream dish, and declared, “I want more of that!”

So do I!

Pumpkin Ice Cream
“The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies
& Other Sweets with Idea for Inventing Your Own”
by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (2009)
Makes about one quart

5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, or organic dark brown molasses sugar,
such as Billington’s
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out, bean and seeds reserved
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated
sugar until the mixture is pale yellow.

In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, brown sugar,
vanilla bean and seeds, ginger, ground cinnamon and the cinnamon
stick. Bring the mixture to a full boil, and then, as soon as it
begins to rise up the sides of the pan, remove the pan from the heat.

Immediately pour about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk
mixture in a slow and steady stream and whisk to combine, then return
the egg yolk mixture to the remaining milk mixture. Whisk in the
nutmeg and the salt.

Pour the custard into a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and
refrigerate until it is very cold, at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Whisk the pumpkin puree into the chilled custard, and strain it
through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Recycle the vanilla bean. Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker,
following the manufacturer’s directions.

Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, and place plastic
wrap directly over the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice
crystals from forming. Cover the container and freeze until firm,
about 2 hours. (The ice cream will keep for up to 5 days).

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