Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pumpkin Ice Cream and Salted Pecan Shortbread Cookies

The other day I was looking over all the pumpkin recipes I made and posted on my blog last year - there were 9 of them (not too shabby) - but since I’m always looking for variety, I started a list of new ways I wanted to use pumpkin this fall.

First on my list was Pumpkin Ice Cream.  While I love coming up with my own recipes, this time I turned to Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for pumpkin ice cream, because it sounded absolutely to die for.  A rich custard of cream, egg yolks and brown sugar, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves (the cloves being my addition) and a pinch of salt, and then blended with creamy pumpkin, vanilla and a dash of bourbon (I’ll admit, the bourbon is what really grabbed my attention, although it is completely optional in this recipe).  I won’t drink bourbon on its own – it’s just way too strong and a tiny sip is enough to give me the shivers – but I adore a little bit of it added to desserts.

When I tasted the custard, warm from the stove, it was hard not to just keep on tasting, but I dutifully covered the bowl with plastic and set it in the fridge until it was cold enough for the ice cream maker.  And then of course, after churning, there’s more waiting for the ice cream to harden in the freezer.  When you make your own ice cream, there’s usually quite a bit of waiting involved, but it really is so worth it in the end.  The Williams-Sonoma recipe states that this yields 1 quart, although mine made 1 1/2 quarts after churning.

The ice cream was so smooth, so creamy, so full of fall spicy-ness, and tasted just like pumpkin pie filling.  I can’t imagine anything more perfect on these fall days when the daytime temperatures are still warm enough for ice cream, but you need to satisfy those pumpkin cravings.  If you had a few pie dough scraps leftover from baking pies, you could even bake the scraps, cool and break them into pieces, and fold them into the ice cream after churning for a Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

While the ice cream was freezing, I looked through my cookie recipes to see if any sounded like they would go nicely with the ice cream.  The chocolate chip shortbread cookies caught my eye – but I didn’t really want chocolate – so I revised the recipe to make a Salted Pecan Shortbread Cookie – buttery shortbread with finely chopped pecans mixed into the dough, a drizzle of white chocolate over each cookie, and a sprinkling of more pecans and salt.

The salty sweet cookie, the toasty nuttiness of the pecans and the delicate buttery shortbread was pure bliss.  Crumbled on top of the pumpkin ice cream, it was nothing short of orgasmic…

Pumpkin Ice Cream
printable recipe

  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened, canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon (optional)

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups cream with 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Over medium heat, cook the mixture, whisking occasionally, until the sugar begins to dissolve and the milk around the edges starts to bubble.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup cream and 1/4 cup brown sugar with the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt.  When the milk begins to bubble, slowly pour 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Scrape all of the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat at a steady simmer but not boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 5-6 minutes.

Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla until smooth.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly against the custard so it doesn't form a skin.  Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight, until very well chilled.

Churn custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, adding the Bourbon during the last minute of churning.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Yields about 1 1/2 quarts.

Lightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Salted Pecan Shortbread Cookies
printable recipe
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, divided
  • 1 egg yolk, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4-5 teaspoons ice water
  • white chocolate?

Place the diced butter in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Sprinkle the frozen butter pieces over the flour, and cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly.  You don't need to incorporate the butter too much - you should have some pieces that are slightly bigger than peas, and the mixture should still be very dry and floury.

Stir 1/4 cup of the chopped pecans into the flour butter mixture.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla.  Add the egg vanilla mixture, a little at a time, to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to moisten.  Now, get your hands in there, working quickly, so that the heat of your hands does not warm the butter too much, and work the egg yolk into the dough for 1 minute.

Sprinkle the ice water, a teaspoon at a time, over the dough, working it in with your fingers as you would with pie dough, just until you are able to gather the dough together - it shouldn't be too wet or sticky, but not so dry that it doesn't hold together.  You may need slightly more or less ice water.  Shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk.

Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Place the dough on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, then place another sheet on top of the dough (if you double the recipe, divide the dough in half and only work with half at a time when you roll and cut it out).  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter dipped in powdered sugar, cut as many cookies as you can; alternatively, you can just use a sharp knife dipped in powdered sugar and cut the dough into 2-inch squares.  Use a spatula or pastry scraper to loosen the dough from the parchment, using a little powdered sugar if needed, and place the cookies on the baking sheet.  They can be placed very close together but not touching (1/2 - 1 inch between them), since these cookies will not spread out when they bake (I fit 24 cookies on one sheet).  Gather up the scraps of dough, and continue rolling and cutting cookies until you've used up the dough.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer to freeze the cookies for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the cookies, straight from the freezer, for 10-12 minutes.  Since they will still appear very pale in color, and they do not rise or spread, you may have a hard time telling if they're done, but you'll see the bottom edges just starting to turn golden brown, which means they're ready to take out of the oven.  Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate according to the directions on the package.  Before dipping the cookies, place the wire cooling racks over a baking sheet to catch any drips.  Dip the cooled cookies in the melted chocolate, so that just one half of the cookie is coated in chocolate, shake off the excess, and place on the wire rack.  Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pecans and a bit of salt before the chocolate sets.  When you no longer have enough chocolate to dip the cookies in, scrape the remainder of the melted chocolate into a zip-lock bag, snip off the corner, and drizzle the remainder of the cookies with the chocolate.  Place the cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to completely set the chocolate.  Once set, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Yields 2 dozen cookies.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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