It is ice cream season. And, if you have a can of pumpkin puree in your pantry, leftover from the holidays, this is a seriously delicious way to turn it into a summertime treat. I have served it to numerous guests to rave reviews.
This ice cream uses a custard, so the eggs are cooked. This is the trickiest part of the recipe, cooking the custard without scrambling it. Some recipes say cook the custard directly on the stovetop. If you haven’t done it before (or you have a hard time maintaining a low heat on your stove), there’s a good chance you will scramble your eggs and ruin the custard. I like to use a double boiler. It takes longer because the heat is gentler, but you are far less likely to ruin the custard this way. To make a double boiler, find a bowl that fits securely over any medium to large saucepan. You can buy a double boiler as a set, but it’s not really necessary.
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
(makes 7-8 cups)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
5 large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup half and half
1 15-oz. can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, just pumpkin puree)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup crumbled ginger snaps, not crushed too much because you want chunks
In a medium mixing bowl that you can use as the top of a double boiler, beat together the brown sugar, corn syrup, and egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Mix in the cornstarch and spices.
In a small saucepan, heat the half and half to a simmer. Slowly mix the hot half and half into the egg mixture. Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of the double boiler. Place the custard over the hot water and stir, stir, stir. You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon. The custard is cooked when it thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and beat in the pumpkin. Pour through fine mesh strainer into a large clean bowl. If there are any lumps of pumpkin, push them through the strainer. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
Stir the custard well before freezing. Freeze according to your machine’s instructions. The ice cream will be soft when finished. Add in the crumbled ginger snaps at the very end to maintain the cookie chunkiness. If you add them too early, they disappear. Still tastes good, but sub-optimal in my opinion. For firmer ice cream, transfer to a large container and put in the deep freeze (0ºF or less) for at least 2 hours.
This recipe makes a big batch, nearly 2 quarts. My ice cream maker, a Cuisinart, is not big enough to hold the whole thing in 1 batch. Make sure your machine can hold it all after it’s frozen – remember it expands as it freezes, or freeze it in 2 batches.
Based on a recipe from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein, William Morrow and Company, 1999.