Friday 11 October 2013

Roasted, Spiced 'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream with Pecan Praline

While I really don't appreciate the onset of winter, I do love autumn. I love the colours, the brisk breezes, the crisp crackle of leaves underfoot, the dark hints of woodsmoke in the air, the abundance of fall produce and the comfort of walking into a warm, cosy house when your nose is really really cold. And if it is sunny and bright, which it tends to be here in Edmonton, then so much the better. The sky is always a bright blue, and the sunshine, while not the warmest, gives you a feeling of cheer and that everything is all right in the world.

I also love autumn cooking. I make spiced soups, hearty stews, baked casseroles, curries and cakes. And I must admit, typical fall holidays like Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween are growing on me... the last one, thanks to one overexcited little kid and an equally overexcited big kid.

Roasted, Spiced 'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream with Pecan Praline

We normally don't tend to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving as much, as its rare for us to have family around, plus why would I roast a whole turkey for just me? So instead, I love making an elegant vegetarian entree with home grown produce, and set everything up all beautifully, so that we can all sit at the table and for one day I can pretend to be the perfect homemaker (erm, not!). I still love Thanksgiving Monday though, more for the lie in than the actual cooking, mind :)

This year, however, I am determined that we will have a 'traditional' thanksgiving, so I planned my menu in advance. Starting with a simple, roasted parsnip soup, then some roast quail (for me), and a zucchini and squash tart (for Kay and Adz), home grown roasties, maple glazed carrots and this delicious dessert. So, while strictly non-traditional, I am hoping to make this into a lovely family meal, even if said family is just the three of us. After all, celebrating family is what this day is all about. I live far enough away from my family, so I plan to take every opportunity to cherish my little one here.

Roasted, Spiced 'Pumpkin Pie' Ice Cream 
with Pecan Praline

My first attempt at 'pumpkin pie' was really a squash tart, a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from The Guardian back in England. It was really really good, and I loved the contrasting textures of crisp, short pastry and creamy filling. I never made another one though, until I came to Canada and the second one I made was a little disappointing, as I didn't get the pastry quite right, and the canned pumpkin puree that I used for the filling was a little one the bland side. So this year, I figured it may be time to try something a little different and in keeping with our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal.
I'll be honest, I am not really the best baker in the world, though I do manage pretty well. But without being too immodest, I do make some pretty good ice creams. So this year, I decided to eschew the traditional pumpkin pie and play to my strengths and make this absolutely gorgeous 'pumpkin pie' ice cream instead. When I first made the ice cream mix for the recipe, one taste and I knew that I had hit on a winner. This ice cream pretty much tastes almost exactly like pumpkin pie filling. Yummers!

I know I call it 'pumpkin pie'... but really this recipe uses home grown buttercup squash (I've added notes to help you substitute pumpkin instead too). At my request, Kay grew buttercup squash this year, and this was the first one he brought home. I love buttercup squash, as the flavour is so fragrant and subtle, and the texture is a lot drier than traditional pumpkin.

For me, the smell of pumpkin pie spices is the fragrance of fall and roasting the squash with traditional pumpkin pie spices caramelises it beautifully and adds a delicate smokiness to the puree and the ice cream... not to mention making the house smell just amazing.

I added the pecan praline, well, partly because I am a sucker for salted praline, but also because it adds a dark, crunchy, sweet, salty, caramelly texture to the ice cream, which is totally unbeatable.

Now, my only problem is to make sure that this ice cream lasts until Thanksgiving this Monday... something I totally cannot guarantee :)

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream 
(Printable Recipe)

For the roasted squash puree:

1 small buttercup squash, halved *see notes for substituting pumpkin instead
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup milk + a little extra, if required

For the ice cream base:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half (10% cream)
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
5 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream, chilled

For the pecan praline:

1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp flaked sea salt (I use Maldon or Himalayan Pink)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup, plus a little more sugar


Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Squash Puree:

Seed the squash, then place it, cut side up in a roasting tin, and sprinkle over the spices. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash is very soft. Leave to cool, then scoop into a food processor or a blender, and blend to a smooth puree with the milk, adding a little extra milk, if needed.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of squash puree and keep aside.

Ice Cream Base:

To make the ice cream base, heat the milk, half and half and sugars in a heavy based pan, until just steaming. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl, and gently pour in the hot milk-cream mixture, whisking all the time. Scrape back into the pot, and on a gentle heat, cook the custard for about 8 - 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until its smooth, thick and coats the back of a spoon (about 165 - 170 F)

Place the chilled whipping cream in a bowl. Set a sieve over the bowl, and as soon as the custard is thickened, pour it through the sieve into the whipping cream. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, then whisk in the 1 1/2 cups squash puree.

Chill overnight.

When the ice cream base is chilled, take out and churn in an ice cream machine, following its instructions.

Pecan Praline:

To make the pecan praline, toast the pecans with the salt in a hot and heavy pan, shaking them around, for 1 minute.

In another pan, heat the water and sugar together, till the sugar melts. Add the pecans and cook, until the mixture turns sandy. Then, over low heat wait until the sugar starts melting, and keep stirring until the pecans all are nicely coated with the sticky sugar mixture.

Turn out onto a greased metal tray, and do resist popping a few into your mouth at this point [they can be burning hot, as I found out] Let cool completely, then chop roughly. They can be stored for almost a week in a airtight tin (ha!).

Serve the ice cream with the praline sprinkled on top


If using canned pumpkin puree, just use the amount specified, no extra work needed.

If you are making your own pumpkin puree from scratch, then scrape out the seeds, cut the pumpkin into wedges and roast it with the spices, until soft (you may need to add some extra time). Scrape out the roasted flesh (it may be watery) and drain in a sieve. Puree the pumpkin until smooth, without adding the milk as noted in this recipe, and substitute for the squash, as noted in the recipe.


  1. You, my dear, keep my little old Donvier ice cream machine busy :-)

  2. I would really love to have this pumpkin pie ice cream, though I love ice-creams which are more salty like the Salted caramel ice-cream which tastes like an old recipe and I would love it without burning sugar in my cast iron skillet, from outside and Cherry lambic sorbet is really to die for.


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