October is a beautiful time of year in New England. Temperatures drop, leaf colors change from 52 shades of green to vibrant yellows, reds and oranges, and pumpkins abound. It was amongst this backdrop that Becky Turner, my favorite beer chick at Lees Wine and Spirits, challenged me to create a Pumpkin Ale Ice Cream fitting for Sam Adams Seasonal Pumpkin Ale. Never one to shirk from a challenge of this magnitude, with glass of beer in tow, I began my research. A tough job for sure, but a worthy one nonetheless. I was up to the challenge.
Searching the Internet was less than satisfying. Sure there were recipes for ice cream batter, but none that completely satisfied me. I love to “trick out recipes” and this was no exception. Undaunted, I combined my experience with others to create this super creamy, flavor filled ice cream that punched out all of my favorite Fall pie flavors. This recipe is my take on a seasonal classic New England flavor, with the added fun of adding pumpkin ale. I hope that you like this Sam Adams! And thanks, BT, keep pushing me, and my waistline to new heights.
I would like to credit Jeni Britton Bauer’s book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, for inspiration.
This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of ice cream.
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split. Seeds removed and pod retained.
1 cinnamon stick, whole
3 cloves, whole
4 ounces pumpkin puree, canned. You can also substitute sweet potato or squash puree, but don’t use canned pie mix.
1 cup Sam Adams Fat Jack Pumpkin Ale
How to make the batter:
Cornstarch slurry: In a small bowl or ramekin, combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the whole milk. Whisk with a fork until the cornstarch is dissolved and set aside.
Cream cheese prep: Place the cream cheese and salt in a 3-4 quart glass or stainless steel bowl and set aside.
Beer prep: Pour 1 cup of Sam Adams Fat Jack Pumpkin Ale in a saucepan. Over a medium heat, simmer until it is reduced by about 25% to 3/4 cup. This will concentrate the flavor and reduce the alcohol.
Ice Bath: Fill a large bowl with cold water and enough ice so that the water is very cold and the ice doesn’t melt.
Making the base: In a 4 quart pot, preferably a heavy bottom one that conducts heat evenly, pour in the remaining whole milk, cream, brown sugar, ginger, corn syrup cinnamon stick, cloves. Cut the vanilla bean in half with a sharp paring knife and, using the edge of the knife’s blade, scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and add to the base mixture. Do this 2-3 times until most of the seeds have been removed from the pod. Now, add the pod to the base mixture in the 4 quart pot.
Turn on the stove burner on medium low and gradually increase the temperature until the mixture is at a rolling boil. You don’t want it to froth, but you do want it to have a low bubble. TIMING IS IMPORTANT at this stage. Cook at this temperature for 4 minutes, then take the pot off the heat, add the cornstarch slurry to the base, return to the heat and cook at a rolling boil for another minute. Turn the heat off. Now, ladle enough of the hot mixture into the cream cheese/salt combination to begin liquification. Whisk briskly until smooth. You don’t want any clumps at the stage. Add more of the base into the cream cheese mixture and whisk until the base and the cream cheese are smoothly combined.
Put the bowl in the ice bath and whisk the mixture to cool it down. Let sit for 5 minutes and whisk again. At this point, add the pumpkin puree and the 3/4 cup or so of the ale. Whisk until smooth. Let the mixture sit in the ice bath for another 5-10 minutes and give it 1 more whisk. Cover the bowl and put in a refrigerator for no less than 4 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend. I usually let my batter sit for 12-14 hours (overnight).
Before you put the batter in your ice cream maker, take out the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean pod. Its a good idea to strain it though a fine mesh sieve. This will catch the cloves and will also take out any chunks of the pumpkin puree that might be left in the mixture. Freeze according to your particular ice cream makers instructions. Once churned, scoop into a food safe container, place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the ice cream, then add the lid and freeze until firm.
It’s time now for you and your friends to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remove from the freezer and let the ice cream sit on your counter for 5 minutes or so until it just begins to soften. Scoop into a bowl, add a ginger snap cookie to the top of the ice cream and serve. You’ll love it, I assure you!