Pumpkin Ice Cream

My BFF Juanita loves pumpkin ice cream and is always on the hunt. We live in the Pioneer Valley and Herrell’s Ice Cream is nearby in Northampton, MA. They have rotating seasonal flavors and this is one of them. And it is fantastic. Problem is, of course, that they don’t always stock it. Even during the colder months, it’s catch as catch can. A couple of years ago an independent frozen yogurt shop opened up around the corner and everyone was thrilled because they use locally dairy products and fruits. Their plain flavor is amazing….tart n’ tangy, creamy and low-fat. It truly appeals to true yogurt lovers, which is something most frozen yogurts do not do. Their flavors, however, are incredibly subtle. Most have barely a whisper of color (which doesn’t bother me at all, and in fact I think is great) but the actual flavor is so subtle as to almost not be there. They came out with a pumpkin and Juanita was all excited….until she tasted it. We joked that they made the yogurt NEAR a pumpkin. Okay I don’t mean to be cranky. Juanita and I just tend to like fuller flavors and I do like their passion fruit very much, which complements the natural tangy-ness of the yogurt. Meanwhile, I kept a lookout for any pumpkin ice cream that I could find. There was a local dairy that made a version that was not up to par. Whole Foods had some gelato in-store that was pretty good. None were up to the Herrell’s standard. Our hunt for having a consistent source was grim.

Juanita recently visited Williamstown, MA and went to a local shop where they had pumpkin ice cream on the fall menu. She ordered it and was pleasantly surprised at the fullness and balance of flavors. As she was walking out she was just about to say to her husband that the ice cream was on par with Herrell’s when she saw a sign that said they featured Herrell’s ice cream! She was very pleased that her palate was discerning and consistent.

But back to my pumpkin ice cream….the mind is a terrible thing to waste. And mine, apparently, is wasted. My book, Bake It To The Limit, was published in 1999. I have a copy in my kitchen workspace as well as at my real desk. I use it often. It’s just that I tend to turn to certain recipes again and again and do not necessarily peruse the whole book. Well, turns out I developed a Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe way back then and I just recently re-discovered it. It rocks. Juanita approves. This is just like pumpkin pie – spicy, creamy, flavorful, but frozen.

Makes 4 cups

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch cloves

1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin purée

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl. This mixture will be thick.

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan combine the milk, cream, and cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Scald mixture over a medium-high heat. Slowly add a little bit into the egg mixture, whisking all the while, to temper the eggs. Add remaining liquid, stirring until smooth.

Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until custard has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not boil.

Off heat, whisk in pumpkin purée and vanilla and pour through a fine strainer. Cool almost to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Transfer to storage container and refrigerate 6 hours, or preferably overnight (this develops the flavors and texture best). Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in airtight container and eat preferably within 4 days.