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Holiday Ice Cream Extravaganza, Part 1: Pumpkin

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin ice cream

A long time friend of mine, another Sarah in fact, asked me what became of my poor, neglected foodie blog the other day. I told her that I had recently stopped neglecting it and just posted a recipe for pumpkin muffins. “I’d like to see some dairy on your blog,” she said. “Cheesecake? Ice cream? I’m looking for inspiration,” I asked. Without hesitation, she replied, “Ice cream. Peppermint.”

Pumpkin ice cream

Of course, this is me we’re talking about, and anyone who knows me knows I can’t drive to South Dakota for Thanksgiving with just one flavor of ice cream in my cooler of dry ice. Especially when we’re quickly approaching the holidays and thoughts of pumpkin ice cream immediately started dancing in my head. Oh no, friends. We are going to do this up right. We are going to have ourselves a little Holiday Ice Cream Extravaganza.

Pumpkin ice cream

So I thought we’d ease into this Extravaganza with an ice cream I’ve made before, and my personal holiday favorite – pumpkin. I’m one of those nuts who has been snapping up every can of Libby’s she can find due to the sad, sad pumpkin shortage of the last few years. Now that we’re through those dark days, I suggest we celebrate with a bowl of something that is totally opposite of those silly healthy pumpkin muffins!


Pumpkin Ice Cream

Adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein

Makes approximately 1.5 quarts (~1.5 L)

Note: I have made this before, and I thought the resulting texture was a little…squashy. Other friends have reported that their pumpkin ice cream had no such texture issues. Maybe I’m just picky, but I do recommend pushing the pumpkin through a fine mesh sieve for ultra-smooth ice cream. However, it is a real pain in the butt, and you might try pushing it through in batches rather than the whole can at once.

(I also have some thoughts on the addition of cornstarch and corn syrup  in this recipe which I will discuss at great lengths in a later post. I KNOW YOU’RE SUPER EXCITED.)


1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
5 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger (if you try to use fresh it can curdle your cream)
8 oz (240 mL) half and half (or just mix your own – 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream)
1 – 15 oz can of solid pack pumpkin
8 oz (240 mL) heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Special equipment: Fine mesh sieve (optional), ice bath, ice cream maker

Pumpkin ice cream
Ice cream is hard work.



0. Push the pumpkin through a fine mesh sieve. You will lose about an ounce of pumpkin in the process, but I think the texture of the ice cream is improved. A small lump of deep orange and very fibrous, very dry pumpkin will remain, as shown in the photo above.

1. Measure out your spices, separate your eggs, and pour the half and half (or cream/milk mixture) into a medium heavy saucepan. Pour the cream and vanilla into the final bowl set over the ice bath.

2. Heat the half and half over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. While the half and half is heating, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium bowl, until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow. (I used a small hand mixer for this step because corn syrup is really difficult to whisk.) Whisk in the spices and cornstarch.

3. Once the half and half has been brought to a simmer, slowly add it to the egg mixture while continuously whisking (with an actual whisk this time). Pour the final custard mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Heat the custard mixture over medium heat until it thickens slightly or coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow to boil, or you will get scrambled eggs! (If you are paranoid about what this means in terms of SCIENCE, you’re aiming for coagulation, not curdling, and eggs have 2 different temperatures where these phases occur. You can use an instant read thermometer as a guide –  you’re shooting for 170-180°F/76-82°C. With practice, you will learn to see, hear, and feel when the custard is adequately thick.)

5. Remove custard from heat and whisk in pumpkin. Pour through another mesh sieve into the cream and vanilla mixture sitting on the ice bath to strain out any bits of egg that curdled, or skip this if you only have one mesh sieve like me. (Or try it with the pumpkiny sieve, only to discover that the sieve is crammed with pumpkin bits and nothing is going to strain through it no matter how hard you try.)

Pumpkin ice cream

6. Once the custard has cooled on the ice bath, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dish up, and enjoy a bit of frozen pumpkin heaven!

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