I always always always come home from vacation inspired to make new things I experienced on my trip. Chilaquiles came after our other-worldly brunches in San Diego. Thai Curry with Chicken and Eggplant came after I consumed my body weight in braised eggplant in China… and still wanted more. So one would expect that I would post a how-to on croissant making or maybe something involving seared fois gras. (Ohhhhhhh talk dirty to me…. GAH, do I love fois gras. I shouldn’t, but I do. I’m sorry, geese.) I do have one particular meal coming up that is a complete inspiration from something I ate in Monte Carlo, but first… we have some business to attend to.
And that business… is fall.
Yes, I came home to fall. Before we left there was early chatter of starting all that pumpkin baking or making applesauce, but sometime in the week we were gone, stuff got real. The nightly temps dropped a little, and the come-hither canned pumpkin displays cropped up everywhere. I’m a strong person, but even I can’t resist getting on that big, cinnamon-scented fall food bandwagon. It’s my favorite clothing/eating/drinking season, and I own it. I had FIVE fall-centric cooking magazines with me on the plane/train, and by the time we landed back in Knoxville, I could have been convinced to eat a cinnamon-scented air freshener I wanted to taste fall food so badly.
With the farmer’s markets are still displaying tomatoes and eggplant because, oh yeah, it’s still in the 80s here, there’s only one way to become a card-carrying member of the everything-aumtun-lovers club, and that is to make pumpkin ice cream.
Pumpkin ice cream. My ears hath never heard of something so lovely.
Surprisingly, great pumpkin ice cream is really, really hard to find. You can buy the grocery store stuff that is flavored like pumpkin, but that tastes more like the aforementioned air freshener. You can’t exactly just stir pumpkin into vanilla ice cream, either. So I did what I always do when it comes to matters of ice cream. I consulted David Lebovitz, aka king of ice cream. (And other things- love his blog! And he lives in Paris, so technically I’m tying this all back to my trip.)
This pumpkin ice cream is… perfect. There’s nothing else I need to say. It has the perfect amount of sweetness, the perfect amount of spice, the perfect amount of pure pumpkin flavor, and the perfect texture. It makes me want to patent an 8-qt home ice cream maker because only making 1 qt can, by some (me), be considered inhumane. This is the fall treat you can eat wearing shorts on your back porch… and the treat you could serve in the dead of winter over hot gingerbread with some sort of brandied caramel sauce. After a meal of seared fois gras surrounded by a gaggle of happy geese to make me feel less guilty. While listening to angels sing because clearly that is what I will eat every day in HEAVEN.
- 1½ cups (375 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
- ⅓ cup plus 2 Tbsp (95 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp freshly-grated ginger
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup packed (60 g) brown sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp rum, brandy or orange liquor (optional... but not really. I used rum)
- ¾ cup (180 g) canned pumpkin (100% pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix)
- Make an ice bath by putting some ice and a little water in a large bowl and nest a smaller metal bowl (one that will hold at least 2 quarts) inside it. Set a mesh strainer over the top. This is prep for the fast-moving custard-making stage.
- In a medium saucepan mix the milk, cream, granulated sugar, ginger, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and salt.
- Warm the mixture over medium heat until hot and the edges begin to bubble and foam (but do not let it boil!). This can take anywhere from 3-8 minutes, depending on your stove, so keep an eye on it!
- While the milk mixture us warming, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. When the milk mixture is hot, gradually whisk in about half of the mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. This is called 'tempering' the eggs and will prevent scrambled eggs in your ice cream (no bueno).
- Scrape the warm yolk-milk mixture back in to the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture 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). This should take 4-8 minutes.
- Immediately pour the mixture through the strainer into the bowl nested in the ice bath. Mix in the brown sugar, then stir until cool, then chill thoroughly in the fridge, preferably overnight.
- Whisk in the vanilla, liquor (if using), and canned pumpkin. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any little grainy pumpkin fibers- don't skip this step, makes a big difference! Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.