Some people love Halloween. I am not one of those people. Generally, I see Halloween as the fall holiday I have to get through before we can get to the good stuff.
I hate scary movies and haunted houses, and I don’t understand why anyone would ruin a perfectly good hayride by chasing the wagon wearing a ski mask and brandishing a chainsaw. Isn’t there enough to be truly afraid of in this life—global poverty, income inequality, Fukushima leakage, factory farming, systemic racism, climate change? Why pay for the privilege of feeling terrified when all you have to do is watch the news or scroll through your Facebook feed?
Though I do enjoy the occasional Sour Patch Kid, candy is not really my thing anymore. And while I don’t mind costumes, I’ve never quite had the body (or the inclination) to wear most of the “outfits” designed for women. Plus, fake blood and oil-based face paint make me break out.
Give me a pumpkin to carve, some hot cider to sip, or an apple to bob for and cover in caramel, and I am game. Just let me do it in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt…and don’t jump out from behind a tree wearing a mask while I am doing it.
I know, I sound like a crotchety old man wearing a bathrobe and shooing trick-or-treaters off his porch with a rolled up newspaper. I’m okay with that. As far as I’m concerned, everyone gets at least one holiday to complain about. Want to moan about the overconsumption and blatant colonialism of Thanksgiving? Go for it. Looking to join the ranks of people who rage against the ever-growing season of Christmas materialism? Be my guest! Just let me take my pass on the most corn-syrup-loving, slutty-costume-pushing, fear-mongering night of the year, and we’ll be good.
Maybe once my nephew is born, I’ll get excited to see which costume we’re going to mush his chubby cheeks into each year. But for now I am going to bed early on October 31st because once November 1st rolls around, it’s all about Thanksgiving. And that’s a holiday I can get behind.
While I know that pumpkin has somehow become cliché, I am just going to leave this delightful autumnal treat here for you. Halloween hater or not, this is something most fall fans can get behind (or at least the ones who like ice cream!). The perfect combination of pumpkin, spices, and booze, this homemade ice cream provides a great alternative to all the pumpkin “flavored” things currently on offer.
Here’s the recipe for the ice cream. If you’re feeling particularly full of autumnal cheer and want to sandwich this ice cream between impossibly soft and delicious spice cookies, this is our absolute favorite ginger cookie recipe.
- 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée
- 1⅓ cups half and half
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 egg yolks
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1⅓ cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- In a medium saucepan, set over medium-high heat, cook the pumpkin puree until it has lost its raw flavor and reduced to 1½ cups, about 8 minutes. Measure off ¾ cup of the pumpkin puree, and reserve the rest for another use (or double the recipe!).
- In a small saucepan, combine the half-and-half, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and heat over medium until steaming (but not boiling).
- Set up a 4-quart saucepan, filled halfway with water. Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat while you’re preparing the custard base.
- In a 3-quart stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, and salt, then slowly whisk in the warm half-and-half. Reduce the temperature under the pot of boiling water to maintain a gentle simmer. Set the bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes. The custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (You can also test it by dipping a wooden spoon into the custard, then running your finger through the custard: if the line holds clearly, the custard has thickened sufficiently.)
- Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Nestle a smaller bowl into the ice and pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl in the ice bath. Whisk the mixture until it is completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
- When ready to churn the ice cream, stir the pumpkin, heavy cream, bourbon, and vanilla into the custard base. Strain once more through a fine mesh strainer. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.