What is it about pumpkins? They seem to possess this magical power over a certain cross-section of the population, reducing us to high-pitched cooing and uninhibited enthusiasm. I am all for enthusiasm. But can you think of any other fruit or vegetable that does this to us? I can’t.
A couple weekends ago on a farm tour, we stopped at the Petaluma Creamery. They had pumpkin ice cream. But ice cream reliably upsets my tummy so I was determined this year to bond deeply with pumpkin in a sweet and sugary frozen form without any unwelcome side effects. And here we are. While this ambrosial mixture was warming on the stove, the fragrance reminded me of a Thai pumpkin curry – one of my favorite foods. Frozen, it loses some of that, which is perhaps for the best. But I wonder what might happen if a little heat were thrown in, or even a little lemongrass? There are so many possibilities.
SPICED PUMPKIN COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM
Yield: about 6 servings
15 ounce can coconut milk
1 level cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
chopped crystallized ginger
chopped nuts, such as pecans, almonds or walnuts
First, freeze your ice cream bowl for at least 24 hours. I have learned the hard way that under-freezing it will yield something more like chilled soup and less like ice cream.
In a medium pot over the lowest heat, combine the coconut milk and pumpkin puree with the brown sugar and spices. Stir just until the sugar has dissolved and the spices are thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and chill in the freezer for about 2.5 hours. Stir once an hour as the edges begin to freeze.
Remove the custard from the freezer.
Have your ice cream machine ready. Take the freezer bowl out last. Pour the custard into the ice cream bowl, and churn until the consistency of a soft serve ice cream, about ten minutes. It doesn’t need very much time at all!
You can serve it this way, or let it firm up a little more in the freezer. It will get rock hard if left in for too long, probably because of the water content in the pumpkin puree.