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Recipe: pumpkin ice cream

Happy Halloween! I can hear the voices of my neighbor’s little kids outside. All of that excitement. All of that anticipation. I feel it too! It’s starting to get dark now and I have our bowl of candy at the ready in the mud room. Kaweah just came back from a brisk walk around the neighborhood with Jeremy while I was manning the door for early trick-or-treaters. She was so excited she ran up to me and gave me the sniff down as if she hadn’t seen me in days (she was gone for all of 15 minutes). See, when kids ring the doorbell, Kaweah thinks they are UPS or FedEx delivery people. All of our FedEx and UPS peeps in our neighborhood carry dog treats. Add to that, the fact that kids are closer to eye level with Kaweah and she is so excited you think her bottom half is going to wiggle off. I’ve eaten three baby Twix already. I’ve got to stop now.

at the ready

So there is some good news to share. I have a nice deal from Fine Cooking that allows me to give gift subscriptions at nearly half the rate. Tell you what I’m gonna do: I will award TWO subscriptions to Fine Cooking! And, since some folks can’t seem to get their deadlines straight, I will grant amnesty and allow all comments up until the time we hold the drawing. I don’t know when we’ll get to it – so if you haven’t commented yet, do so now by clicking here.

Today is the last day of NaBloWriMo. Hallelujah! It was a fun, but I’m definitely looking forward to not blogging daily for at least 11 months…

rev up that vanilla bean action

Even though Halloween is my favorite holiday, I don’t carve pumpkins because… it makes me sad. I hate to toss out old pumpkins just like I hate to dispose of dead pine trees in December. I quite love seeing what others come up with for jack-o-lanterns and I am forever mesmerized by flickering lights and fire. But me – I carved my last pumpkin when I was in elementary school. It was the size of a cantaloupe and I quickly carved a simple, smiling, generic jack-o-lantern face and entered it into a contest at the neighborhood Halloween bash that evening.

egg yolks – can you guess where this is going?

When it was time to go home, I walked the length of the tables laden with enormous, elaborate, grotesquely beautiful carved pumpkins adorned with huge ribbons. Grand Prize! First Place! Second Place! As I neared the end, my feet practically tripping over the long grasses in the night, I saw the smallest one there. It was mine, but I almost didn’t recognize it because it was so minimalist in comparison to the masterful entries lined up like an infantry of monsters. My pumpkin was happy. There was a blue ribbon with the words “cutiest pumpkin” scribbled on the tag. Nobody said Virginians could spell, okay.

straining custard

I tucked my pumpkin under my arm, half embarrassed that I had thought it was a kids’ competition (it was not), half proud of my little gourd for garnering a ribbon despite my misunderstanding. When it eventually rotted away, I was a little heartbroken. I don’t know why I get sentimental about squashes, conifers, cookies with happy faces on them… I just do.

fresh grated nutmeg

But as long as I don’t put a face on the pumpkin, I am more than happy to eat one! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin anything – and especially pumpkin ice cream.

canned pumpkin added to the mix

Of course, I went straight to David Lebovitz’ book for a recipe, but didn’t find one. I noodled around the internet and essentially turned David’s vanilla ice cream recipe into a pumpkin ice cream recipe.

spiced custard base

In the interest of time and sanity, I used canned pumpkin. The ice cream isn’t so much a pumpkin ice cream as a pumpkin pie ice cream. I like pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie. Er, I mean I luv punkin’ pai. I like the ice cream, but I think Jeremy turned our freezer down (colder) and it was as solid as granite. As it thawed, the texture was a little more like semifreddo than creamy ice cream. I think there was too much liquid in the pumpkin. Maybe if I used fresh roasted pumpkin purée instead?

Pumpkin Ice Cream
[print recipe]

1 cup milk
2 cups cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (perhaps use brown sugar)
6 egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
15 oz. can of pumpkin purée, unsweetened (perhaps puréed roasted pumpkin)
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream, and salt in medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover and remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and stir it constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula until mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour custard through strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture completely in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean (rinse it and reserve it for another use) then freeze the mixture according to the ice cream maker’s instructions.

38 nibbles at “halloween!”

  1. Steph says:

    I can’t eat Easter rabbit chocolates for the same reason you can’t carve pumpkins! It makes me sad.. which must seem odd, because I eat meat.

  2. Bridget says:

    Yay! I still get to enter for the give-away. I’m such a dork. I was seriously irritated this morning because I forgot, but of course I didn’t think about it once all day yesterday.

    You can get rid of some of the liquid in pumpkin puree by either blotting it with paper towels (lay out some towels, spread the pumpkin over them in a pretty thin layer, cover with more towels; the towels will come right off without sticking to the pumpkin, surprisingly) or cooking it in a saucepan for 10 minutes or so.

  3. Collette says:

    That’s much smarter than what I did–I took his sweet potato ice cream recipe and just substituted canned pumpkin. Not so great. It wasn’t terrible but it was a little flat. I might try this one but instead of making my own pumpkin puree, I wonder if draining the pumpkin slightly would work? Hmm. I’m all about less work for me. If I try it, I’ll keep you posted.

  4. Grey Street Girl says:

    Yum! This looks so good! Happy Halloween!

  5. Mrs Ergül says:

    How apt to make this for Halloween! Happy Halloween!


  6. Sarah says:

    Yum! I loooooove pumpkin ice cream, but only if done right. And this looks perfect! Not too orange, which is usually a dead giveaway that the flavor is a little off. I’ll have to try this…that is, if I acquire an ice cream maker anytime soon…

    Hope you had a great Halloween! No trick-or-treaters for us… :(

  7. kathryn says:

    OH wow! You are so fricking clever! I would have never thought of making pumpkin pie icecream, but i know I would LOVE it! yum. I think I need to invest in an icecream maker. You could try a weird thanksgiving and have some turkey with your cranberry sorbet and pumpkin icecream. I bet you would be surprised…It just might work! Hope you had lots of kiddos come around last night. Alas, we had nary a doorbell ring in our apartment building, the craze is trying to grab hold in Norway, but just hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

  8. Rosa says:

    Wow, that ice cream looks extremely delicious! A great idea! Yummy!

    I hope you had a good time…



  9. Anne says:

    MMMMM pumpkin ice ice cream. The definitive halloween treat. Growing up in my neighborhood – fity years ago – a neighbor grilled hot dogs and we had them with cider. A dentist passed out toothbrushes and my Dad a pediatrician gave save safety pops. Coming back to the house dumping out the candy, the smell of the candy…But pumpkin ice cream now that would have been sweet!

  10. Manggy says:

    Ah, when I saw the yolks I knew it would be ice cream, but I was still quite surprised at the flavor! Awesome. I have in my hands the recipe of a professional ice cream mix using purees but it does not include egg yolks, so you might not like it. Roasting the pumpkin sounds like a viable option. I would substitute it into the roasted banana ice cream recipe instead, in that instance. Lemme at ’em Twix! (oops… I’ve eaten to many candy bars this year as it is. Resolutions!)
    Lil’ Jen sounds so cute (the cutiest, in fact). I find it so amusing that you felt shame when you thought about how you thought the contest was for kids. You’re not supposed to care! I still feel kind of bad throwing away things (not like you could’ve kept a little rotting scrap of pumpkin to remember it by), but I don’t feel so bad about it anymore now that we have photography to immortalize them :)

  11. Mollie says:

    I love your pumpkin story! That is awesome. :) Now gimme some ice cream… ;-P

  12. haya says:

    i have been thinking about pumpkin pie ice cream since thanksgiving! (canadian thanksgiving, which was 3 weeks ago) but just never got around to actually trying it out. i’m glad you did it first though! i bet some alcohol would do the trick, if you’re not keen on upping the sugar content.
    i used the vanilla recipe to make strawberry ice cream this summer with similarly rock hard results, which has caused me to shy away from wildly experimenting with ice creams. but it was tasty anyway, even if the texture wasn’t right. i bet yours was too! there’s nothing like pumpkin pie.
    i love your pumpkin carving story.

  13. Mary Coleman says:

    Groom loves pumpkin pie. I think I’ll make this for him so he can enjoy it year round. The roasted pumpkin is a great idea.

  14. Margie says:

    The new keyboard is in serious trouble. … water droplets are murderous!

    That ice cream looks so yummy….and, I believe I can smell those spices from here.


  15. Meeta says:

    I have a mega guilty conscience about my carved pumpkin now! I feel really bad – so bad that only a scoop of that ice-cream is gonna make me feel better. LOL! Spiced pumpkin ice-cream is unique to me – i have to try this out!

  16. Maja says:

    Khm, i find the idea intriguing … and i just cleaned my kitchen, so it’s screaming do sth, i’m too white and sparkly … and i haven’t made an ice cream in almost a month … and i have my friedge filled with eggs and double cream … i think it’s ice cream time! Happy belated halloween! :D

  17. Amber says:

    This looks amazing! I love pumpkin ice cream this time of year. Delicious.

  18. emily says:

    i would try leaving the pumpkin in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight just as you would yoghurt to get rid of excess moisture. speaking of which, i wonder how spiced pumpkin frozen yoghurt would be? i imagine the tang would be lovely with the pumpkin.

  19. Susy says:

    OH, I must make this. Mr Chiot’s will be so happy!

  20. Tori says:

    Just put the pumpkin in cheesecloth with a plate on top for weight. It will get drier and in turn absorb more of the custard when it’s mixed together.

  21. peabody says:

    I don’t carve mine either, they last longer that way and I can keep them out through Thanksgiving…they usually will last.
    I use the fresh pumpkin usually when making pumpkin ice cream.

  22. Abby says:

    Ditto on the pumpkins and Christmas trees. In fact, I’ve always wanted a tree with a rootball so I can plant it after the holidays, but I’ve never seen them like that around here for sale. You’d think in NORTH CAROLINA of all places finding a special Christmas tree wouldn’t be so hard!

    The ice cream looks great. I’d love to have some! I like pumpkin in anything but pie….

  23. Brittany says:

    Looks delicious regardless of the texture. Such a perfect scoop! (no pun intended)

    I ususally cook my pumpkin puree over the stove for a minute or two. I do the same with fresh puree. It evaporates a lot of the water.

    I need to go make pumpkin ice cream now, as you’ve set off a craving…

  24. Lori says:

    Just recently my daughter and I went to get an ice cream and they had pumpkin custard. I just love it. I must make yours, it sounds delicious.

  25. Tartelette says:

    There is something about fresh pumpkin in baked goods that throws me off, maybe because of where I grew up we usually eat it in savory dishes (well that and making more than my share every year for the restaurant on Turkey Day), so I tend to use canned and I actually like having a little leftover to heat up and eat with some cinnamon and sugar on top. Love pumpkin ice cream and yours sounds wonderful with all these spices!

  26. Cynthia says:

    I just roasted and pureed an oven full o’ pumpkin 2 nights ago. I know what I am going to do with some of it now. Ice Cream AND my famous pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I hope puppy was wearing a precious costume to greet the kids? At least a cute necklace!

  27. Kathy says:

    Same same on the jack-o-lanterns. I always keep my pumpkins straight up looking au natural. I love ’em! For me, it’s all about the stems. I do believe they have personality.
    Love you blog and your photography is beautifully done; even the eggs are full of artistry. If you’d like, please come see me at

  28. Kathy says:

    oops – forgot the “www”

  29. Dessert Girl says:

    Oh, my gosh. Can I have some of that?? Now?? :-)

  30. Graeme says:

    Can’t think of anything better at this time of year.
    Great colour, isn’t it?

  31. jenyu says:

    Steph – I totally know what you mean!

    Bridget – hey, thanks for the awesome tip! I’ll definitely try that next time.

    Collette – yup, a lot of folks have suggested blotting or draining.

    GSG – thanks, you too!!

    Mrs E – it’s my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year :)

    Sarah – we had a decent Halloween with about 11 kids who came by. Bummer you guys didn’t get any kids.

    Kathryn – thanks sweetie. You’d love an ice cream maker. Although I have to stick to the sorbets (to consume) and let Jeremy and visitors polish off the ice creams :) We had some kids come by, but not a lot. I hope Halloween catches on quick over there!

    Rosa – it was fun :) thanks!

    Anne – great memories of Halloween! I miss the old days some times…

    Mark – I might like it without, but most of the recipes I really like are custard-based. I love Twix :) I was an odd kid. I’m not sure what would have been worse, carving the cute pumpkin or eating it!

    Mollie – hee hee!!! okay!

    Haya – hmmm, what kind of alcohol? That sounds great! Perhaps rum?

    Mary – ooh, I hope he likes it!

    Margie – the spices are indeed wonderful.

    Meeta – oh, don’t feel bad :( sorry!

    Maja – this is definitely fate. You are MEANT to make this ice cream :)

    Amber – thanks!

    Emily – thank you for the tip – I will definitely do that next time.

    Susy – it’s goooooood :)

    Tori – thanks!

    Peabody – yeah, that will be my next experiment.

    Abby – we just gave up on getting trees. However, we learned that one of the little pine trees in our front yard was a rootball xmas tree that our previous owners planted! Sweet :)

    Brittany – also a great idea, thanks!

    Lori – thanks :)

    Tartelette – yes, I only recently discovered all of the savory ways to enjoy pumpkin and I LOVE it. We should trade recipes :)

    Cynthia – Kaweah can’t wear anything, she’ll rip it off and tear it to bits :(

    Kathy – how cute! Thanks!

    Dessert Girl – :)

    Graeme – and no fish either ;) Perfect for ya, sweetie!

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  34. Linda says:

    I learned this tip from Cook’s Illustrated’s Pumpkin Pie recipe that might be useful since both involve canned pureed pumpkin. Before making the custard, cook the pumpkin puree over the stove, by itself for a few minutes so that the extra water will evaporate right off in the form of steam. You can then add your sugar and spices to the pumpkin puree while it cooks and becomes less watery. I’m planning on using this extra step when making pumpkin pie ice cream for this year’s Thanksgiving; it will be my first time making this flavor ice cream. Since last year’s pumpkin pie came out so perfectly and was not soggy (thanks to CI’s tip to pre-cook the canned pumpkin) I’m sure I’ll have the same result with the ice cream.

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  37. Leaf says:

    David Lebovitz does have a pumpkin ice cream recipe… at least now: and I think it’s in The Perfect Scoop.

    Your adaption looks delicious, though! Might just make this from the extra pumpkin I have from holiday baking. :)

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