Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh Snap! Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream with a Gingersnap Swirl

The Setting: An unexpectedly gorgeous day.

The Soundtrack: Oia, flipping through the pages of one of my cheap paperbacks and babbling as though she were reading it aloud.

Sizzling on the Griddle: Pumpkin Pancakes with Honey Cardamom Butter and pure Michigan maple syrup.

The Scenario: Fall has fallen, and the pages of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home have re-opened to welcome the season of root vegetables and warming spices.

If you missed our summer frolic with the queen of artisan ice cream, here's a re-cap. But for the present, let me say, "It's pumpkin time!"

I always look forward to the time of the year when pumpkin lattes dominate cafe menus and ginger becomes much more than the movie star on Gilligan's Island.

I'm one of those weirdos who can't stand pumpkin pie (it's some combination of the texture and two great voices who should never do a duet), so I always have to find other ways to express my love of fall's favorite flavor: pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, and, thanks to Jeni, pumpkin ice cream.

Since this is Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream, and I happened to have a bunch of 5-Spice Gingersnaps in the freezer, I couldn't resist throwing a few cookie crumbles in for added texture and flavor.

If you like a little textural variation in your ice cream, you can't go wrong with this addition.

To create the gingersnap "swirl," coarsely crush/crumble six or so medium-sized 5-Spice Gingersnaps to make about two cups of gingersnap crumbles. After freezing the ice cream in the machine, pack the ice cream into a container, alternating layers of ice cream and cookies so that you begin and end with layers of ice cream. You should aim for at least five layers in all--three layers of ice cream and two layers of cookie crumbles. If using a tall, skinny container, aim for at least seven layers in all.

If you prefer uninterrupted, velvety smoothness in every spoonful, by all means, leave the cookies out.

This recipe calls for an actual pumpkin, cut in half, roasted, scooped out of the skin, pureed, and measured out.

I typically reach right for the can o'puree when the need for pumpkin knocks, so going whole-gourd was a first for me. I admit I had to enlist Hoosband to cut it in half (I am very short, my counters are sized for a normal person, that equals poor leverage, and, oh yeah, I am weak), but the remaining work was a cinch.

An ice-cream scoop is the perfect tool for both scooping out and discarding seeds and membranes and scooping roasted pumpkin into your food processor.

After measuring out the pumpkin for the ice cream, I had about 2 cups leftover to store in the fridge for this morning's pancakes and future baked goods or sauces.

The following recipe is excerpted with permission from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. My notes are in blue.

Jeni's Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream
"A modern classic--rich pumpkin blended with exotic spices, which give the ice cream a light finish and a pleasant tingle." --Jeni Britton Bauer

1 small pie pumpkin or Kabocha, Buttercup, or butternut squash (2-3 lbs)
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice powder

PREP Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and membranes. An ice-cream scoop works perfectly for this. Place Cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, until soft when pierced with a fork. Be sure to use a rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan, as the pumpkin will release some liquid. Let cool slightly.

Scoop the flesh into a food processor and puree until completely smooth. The ice-cream scoop works perfectly for this part as well.

Measure out 3/4 cup for the ice cream; reserve the rest of the puree for another use.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. If you have trouble whisking the cream cheese, microwave it for about 10 seconds to soften it a bit more. Add the pumpkin puree and the honey and whisk until smooth.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

COOK Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and 5-spice powder in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

CHILL Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually is the key word--if you add it all at once, it will be very difficult to get out all the lumps. Speaking of lumps, I like to strain my mixture into a clean bowl at this point, just to make sure the ice cream will be silky-smooth. Use a spatula to help work the mixture through the strainer.

Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. I generally make the mixture the day before I want to freeze the ice cream so it can chill thoroughly in the fridge overnight.

FREEZE Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. For best results, always freeze the canister for AT LEAST 24 hours before using.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container (if adding gingersnaps, layer them in now as you pack the ice cream into the container), press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. The parchment is awesome at helping to prevent freezer burn. Every time you scoop out ice-cream, be sure to press the parchment back down over the remaining ice cream to help keep it tasty. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Makes 1 generous quart.

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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