Friday, November 5, 2010

pumpkin ice cream

creamy, boozy, pumpkin ice cream

I would like to start by apologizing for this utterly unappetizing photo. There is, however, a story behind it.

When I invited Hannah and Lauren over for dinner, the plan was to end our evening with some freshly churned pumpkin ice cream. Hannah had been diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in August, and after a month of heavy treatment she was feeling well enough to make it into the city for the weekend. I'd told her about my shiny new ice cream machine and promised to make her whatever flavor she wanted. I was excited when she chose pumpkin. Of course, that meant I had to buy canned pumpkin, which, believe it or not, was simply no where to be found in my two neighborhood grocery stores!

Therefore, our dinner went on as scheduled, but we sadly postponed pumpkin ice cream. Luckily, Hannah didn't have to wait too long– it debuted to great acclaim the following evening, when Grace threw a small party in Hannah's honor. Ms Spangler set out a big taco bar with all the fixins and your choice of chicken, pork carnitas and ground beef. She made all that from scratch plus Mexican corn with lime, mayo, cheese and chili powder. I wish I had taken pictures because it was such a sight to see. It was quite a feast, and I only wish my jaw had been in better working order at the time so as to more fully enjoy everything.

When looking for a pumpkin ice cream recipe, I turned first to The Perfect Scoop, aka the ice cream bible. Disappointingly, I came up empty-handed. One "pumpkin ice cream," google search later and it quickly became apparent that I was not the only one mourning its exclusion. The very first hit was from the author David Lebovitz's blog, where he thoughtfully provided this recipe.

Once I procured the necessary pumpkin, I proceeded to follow the recipe almost exactly as written. Unlike Rick Bayless's corn ice cream, which used a double boiler to make the custard, Lebovitz's instructions call for whisking the eggs in a bowl and then slowly adding the heated milk/cream/sugar/spice mixture to it. Then you pour all of that back into the pot and stir over a low flame until the custard thickens.

I don't know if maybe I just don't really understand what a thickened egg custard should look like or what, but just as I did with the corn ice cream, I had problems. This time, not only was it not thickening, but it actually kept curdling, the egg separating from the cream and turning all grainy and gross. However, I took a tip from my friend Megan, and popped in my immersion blender whenever that happened. This brought everything back together just fine, but after the third cycle of abortive thickening, accidentally curdling and scrambling to blend it back together, I gave up and moved on.

I added brown sugar and transferred the custard to an ice bath, adding the pumpkin puree. At the point the recipe called for a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and two teaspoons of rum or brandy. Instead, I used my vanilla bean infused rum, adding quite a bit more than the recipe called for. I figured it would make it extra creamy and delicious, since it would keep the ice cream from freezing as hard. I was right, but in this particular case this did cause some issues.

Once everyone had eaten their fill, I pulled out my carefully transported pumpkin ice cream from the freezer for dessert. It was lucky that this event took place on September 11th, rather than August 11th. As you can see, it got kind of soft and melty, on its trip downtown. It probably never froze all the way to begin with, and having it out on the train didn't help matters at all. Even an hour or so to recover in Grace's freezer made no noticeable difference. I can only imagine how soupy it would have been if I had attempted to travel with it in the middle of New York's oppressively hot summer of 2010.

Of course, even slightly melted ice cream can be delicious, and this one was no exception. I was shocked I had made something so rich, creamy and wonderful! This was a very, very good batch of ice cream. It wasn't too aggressively pumpkiny, but it was smooth and decadently delicious with a hint of fall spices. Hannah, you picked a winner!

I haven't broken out the ice cream maker since, and this will certainly be a tough act to follow. Hopefully, next time around I can conquer the custard!

1 comment:

  1. We have A LOT of pumpkins right now so this is probably something I'll try, it sounds amaaazing. <3 boozy ice cream

    Re: custurd, I'm still trying to get the custard ice cream thing down, BUT I've FINALLY made successful custards just on their own. The trick for stove top seems to be low heat for a VERY long time (like 45-50 min,) near constant stirring, and then you strain it through a fine mesh. Basically it sucks and it's really annoying.

    I'd actually recommend baking your custard in the oven in a water bath. Every oven custard I've done comes out about a billion times nicer than my stove-top ones (even when they work.) AND you get to leave it there and ignore it, no stirring, no curdling, it's awesome.

    I use this recipe for infused custard, but because we rarely have whole vanilla beans around I usually just sub in a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

    The ramekins I use are slightly bigger than the recipe calls for so it only serves about 4-5, and as such has a longer cooking time (50-60 min.) It's great for creme brulee, but now I'm thinking i want to try using it as an ice cream base...