This was the flavor I came up with for my birthday party a few weeks ago. We had a big Mexican feast and this was the fitting finale: a custard-based ice cream infused with a good glug of pure pumpkin oil, topped with a shard of slightly spicy brittle made from pumpkin seeds, or pepitas.
When it comes to dessert, I'm just not a chocolate cake kind of girl, and by now you know this.This is nothing like the ubiquitous fall ice cream flavor, pumpkin. The flavor of the oil is much more concentrated than pumpkin meat, giving off a deep earthy flavor, more savory than sweet, but one that spoons well with a bit of sugar and cream.
For the pumpkin oil, look for bottles with no dust - you want it as fresh as possible. I'm partial to La Tourangelle oils and their pumpkin oil is especially nice. Order it online if your local shop doesn't carry it. It makes a great salad dressing, shaken with some lime juice.
2 cups whole milk
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
one-finger pinch sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup pumpkin oil
Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles around the edges. Set up a medium-sized mixing bowl with a fine-mesh sieve on top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Slowly ladle about half the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Pour in the cream then pour the mixture through the strainer into the clean bowl. Whisk the pumpkin oil into the custard vigorously until it's well blended. Cool to room temperature over an ice bath then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.Pepita Brittle makes 2 ounces, enough to top 6-8 servings of ice cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup shelled toasted pumpkin seeds
dash cayenne pepper
one-finger pinch sea salt
In a small frying pan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then reduce to low and cook, stirring, until the mixture is an amber color, about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin seeds, cayenne, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture darkens a shade, another 2-3 minutes. If the liquid cooks out entirely, add more water and sugar as you go.
Carefully pour the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and quickly spread into a thin layer with an oiled spatula. There shouldn't be holes in the sugar slurry. Set aside to cool. When the mixture is completely cooled and solidified, peel away from the parchment and break into shards. Store in an airtight container.
Related: Recipe: Salted Almond Ice Cream
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)