We’re at the last of the beer ice creams from this weekend’s ice cream making extravaganza. And I saved the best for last, because this final offering – pumpkin beer ice cream – was definitely my favorite. And science will back me up – I had an ice cream taste test with Elpis and Justice and her out of town guests this weekend, and this was their favorite one of the bunch as well.
I made this beer ice cream with Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale, which I bought because it promised “a full bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.” In other words, it already sounded like it was on the path to dessert land (more importantly, it was available at the Whole Foods across from work).
Now, from the few pumpkin beers I’ve tasted – and after reading Capital Spice’s excellent notes from their pumpkin beer tasting last week – I can safely say that pumpkin beers run the gamut from the extremely pumpkin-y brews to those that merely “suggest” a pumpkin flavor. The Punkin Ale was a nice mid point – it was sweet and pumpkin-y, but not overwhelmingly so, with malt and spicy notes.
I modified a Williams-Sonoma recipe for regular old pumpkin ice cream, but halved the pumpkin, cut down on the cream, and added the beer. The beer gives the ice cream a hit of malt and spice, with a slight bite from the alcohol, and the pumpkin custard brings out the pumpkin flavors of the ale. Set against the creamy sweetness of the custard, it’s a lovely combination. This ice cream is like eating a creamy, spicy, slightly alcoholic pumpkin pie filling. But I think I like this more than pumpkin pie.
Like I said, ice cream is my great weakness.
Note: I have no idea why the original recipe directs you to mix the vanilla and the pumpkin together and let it sit for three to eight hours. I’m sure there are good reasons behind this step, but I really don’t care to know what they are. I added the ingredients at the end, like a normal person, and the final ice cream tasted fine.
Pumpkin Beer Ice Cream
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Makes one quart.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin beer
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Warm over medium heat, until small bubbles form at the edges of the mixture – around 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, ginger, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth.
Remove cream mixture from heat. Very slowly add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (if you run your finger through the mixture on the spoon, it should leave a clean trail). Do not let the custard boil.
In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cool custard mixture over an ice bath.
When cool, whisk the pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin beer into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the custard’s surface (this will prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate until chilled – preferably overnight.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.