Jeni Britton Bauer uses a 1 1/2 qt. Cuisinart ice cream maker, with an electric base and frozen canister for her recipes. Other models are available; all range from around $40 - $60. Using Chinese 5-spice powder gives this ice cream an Asian twist and touch of heat. Traditionally it includes Szechwan peppercorns, although in the U.S. white pepper is sometimes substituted. The 5-spice powder is available at Little World Market and in the ethnic section of some groceries. Apple/pumpkin pie spices can be substituted.
- 1 small pie pumpkin or
- Kabocha, Buttercup, or
- Butternut squash (2-3 pounds)
- 2 c. whole milk
- 1 T. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 1/2 (3 T.) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
- 2 T. light corn syrup
- 1 T. Chinese 5-spice powder
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, until soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly.
Scoop the flesh into a food processor and puree until completely smooth. Measure out 3/4 c.; reserve the rest of the puree for another use.
Mix about 2 T. of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and the honey and whisk until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water (see below).
Cook: Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and 5-spice powder in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Chill: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bag, and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. [Note: If you are making the mixture several hours or a day before freezing, this step isn’t necessary; just refrigerate the mixture. Regardless, it must be very cold before beginning the freezing process.]
Freeze: Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.