I Spy Pie With My Little Eye


I have a cold and am super congested, so conventional wisdom suggests that I avoid dairy. Lucky for me, Brian says that that’s an old wives’ tale, and that’s all the justification I need to make and eat some ice cream.

It’s Labor Day weekend so we’re straddling two seasons, clutching at summer with one hand as the other reaches for fall. Pumpkin pie ice cream sandwiched in chewy ginger cookies pays homage to both.


First off, it’s time to dessicate the pumpkin. Some recipes I read complained about graininess and poor texture in pumpkin ice creams. Better no ice cream at all than one compromised in texture, as I always say, so I thought I’d drive off some of the excess water in my canned pumpkin puree with The Power of Heat in the hopes of creating a creamier final product.


After ten minutes or so the pumpkin puree had reduced in volume and deepened in color, so I set it aside to cool while I ran to the grocery story for the third time in one day because I’d forgotten to buy eggs the first two times around. I blame my mucus-addled head. And I got the cold from Brian, so ultimately I blame him.


Next up, the custard base: milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and a pinch of salt. In separate bowls, I separated six eggs; I wanted to take a tempting photo of six perfect, glistening, saturated egg yolks, but I massacred most of them in the separating process, so you lose.

The milk and spice mixture headed for the stove along with some sugar, dark brown sugar and vanilla.

the well-tempered egg

Once the milk was hot, I tempered it into the egg yolks. Tempering is one of those tasks which, although simple, makes me feel delightfully pastry cheffy. I get so into it that I usually end up whisking more hot milk into the eggs than is strictly necessary, not that it hurts anything in the end.

The eggs and milk went back on the heat until it thickened up, and then I whisked in a cup of the pumpkin puree. The custard is thick and the pumpkin is thicker, so you may want to do this in a large bowl so you can really go to town with the whisk. Or do it in a small bowl and spew custard and pumpkin all over the stove; your call. I won’t tell you which method I used.


I ran the finished ice cream base through a sieve, to get rid of both any inadvertent eggy bits and any stringiness from the pumpkin. A tablespoon of cognac went in to deepen the flavor and enhance the texture.

By the way, “Inadvertent Eggy Bits” is the name of the forthcoming album from my New Wave-Math Core jam band. It’s a concept album.

ice bath

I’m an impatient ice cream maker, so I almost always hurry things along with an ice bath instead of letting the custard cool in the fridge. Of course, I’m also spoiled with my compressor ice cream machine, so I usually worry less about chilling the ice cream base to within an inch of its life.


Ten minutes over the ice bath, thirty-five in the ice cream maker, et voila! Pumpkin pie ice cream.

I stashed the finished ice cream in the freezer to firm up, and made some over-sized chewy ginger cookies while I waited. I actually made these for the Smackdown a few months ago, so if you feel a need for the pictorial, I refer you to that post. (There’s no recipe in that post, but I have linked to one at the end of this post.)


Once the cookies were baked and cooled, sandwich assembly took just a few minutes. The finished sandwiches went back into the freezer to meld and firm up.


God damn, I love an ice cream sandwich.

big bite

And if you like ginger and pumpkin pie, you will to. The cookies take well to freezing and have an assertive ginger flavor. The ice cream is wonderfully creamy – no compromised texture here – and well-spiced and pumpkiny. It’s not overly sweet, just flavorful, which I like.

I need to take some DayQuil and pass out now. Apologies if this post doesn’t make the sense I think it makes. Again: Blame Brian.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
1  c. 100% pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
pinch of salt
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1 tbsp. cognac

Dry out the pumpkin: Heat 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree in a non-stick or enamel-coated pan over medium-high heat until it starts to steam. Keep it on the heat, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes. It will reduce in volume and deepen in color. Set it aside while you make the custard.

Make the custard: In a heavy saucepan, mix the cream, milk, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and sugars over medium-low heat. Heat it gently; do no bring it to a boil.

While the milk heats, whisk the egg yolks together. Whisk half the hot milk mixture slowly into the egg yolks to temper them, then whisk the egg-milk mixture back into the rest of the milk in the pot.

Heat the custard, stirring constantly, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Finish the ice cream base: Whisk the pumpkin puree and cognac into the finished custard. Cool the finished base over an ice bath, then chill completely in the fridge.

Churn the ice cream in your machine according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Stash the finished ice cream in the freezer for at least 4 hours to firm up totally.

Recipe for Alice Medrich’s chewy ginger cookies.
Note: for these sammiches, I omitted the candied ginger.

10 thoughts on “I Spy Pie With My Little Eye

  1. Just recently found your blog and have turned into a major stalkier. Any way to make this if you don’t have an ice cream maker? (I live in Guatemala…we’re deprived of most things fabulous)

  2. Yaaaaaaaay extra content. Stumbled on your blog and now I’m seriously addicted. The cookies look like they have the perfect texture.

  3. since you didn’t call dibs on it, i might use “Assertive Ginger Flavor” as the title of my next book. no doubt the manuscript will be covered with crumbses from these cookies.

  4. You are a genius. Great idea to concentrate the pumpkin. Are you just not a candied-ginger-person or did you think the freezing would do weird things to it? I love me some candied ginger.

  5. @abby, i’m not sure how you’d make the ice cream w/o an ice cream maker. maybe a pumpkin mousse instead.

    @gloria, i love candied ginger, but i thought (1) it would freeze and be too crunchy and (2) all the ginger would totally overpower the pumpkin.

  6. What’s in a can of pumpkin puree? Pumpkin as a dessert ingredient is considered somewhat unusual in Australia, (although we do make scones out of it, so go figure). Anyway, I’ve never seen puree for sale, so I would have to make my own …

  7. I love pumpkin anything, but I absolutely hate canned pumpkin; it always has a metallic taste. I make my own puree with butternut squash, because it has a much finer texture than regular pumpkin. No graininess whatsoever. I cut them in half, seed them and bake in at 350 (upside down and covered) for about an hour. Then I scoop the flesh out of the shell, put it into a colander for an hour or so and I’m good to go! Tastes so much better than canned, and it’s always nice and silky.

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