Monday, 18 November 2013

Spiced Sumpkin Seed Ice Cream

Pumpkin Seed Ice Cream

Memories of Eastern Europe lead my creative juices to this concoction, inspired by a delicacy at restaurant Gujžina, in Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana (also home to a much loved unpasturised milk machine!). There, they are wild on seasonal food, and go particularly nuts for pumpkins when autumn breaks through. Our guide on the free walking tour of Ljubljana recommended the pumpkin-seed ice cream sold at Gujžina, and I was immediately intrigued (one of my little aims in life has been to try as many ice cream flavours as possible). To my disappointment, I have too often found that in the ice-cream arena, innovation champions taste. So my ears pricked up at the thought of an unconventional flavour which was highly recommended in a city that knows and loves its ice-cream.

Having the attention span of a goldfish, I immediately forgot where the guide told us the restaurant-cum-shop was located. But my determination was steadfast. After traipsing around Mestni trg (the town square) for a while, I spotted the restaurant. It was easy to miss, with narrow walls and an unremarkable light wooden interior; but the pumpkin-packed window display made it unmistakable. And true to word, the pumpkin-seed ice-cream was worth the hunt. A slightly nutty, bitter flavour came through the sweetness of the ice cream, with a little crunch from the chopped seeds.

Pumpkin seed brittle

After scouring the internet for pumpkin-seed ice-cream recipes, I had no luck finding something that would replicate what I tasted in Slovenia. All the recipes contain pumpkin-seed oil, not whole pumpkin seeds, which is a real shame. So I went at it alone! 

This recipe uses a gelato base, as I prefer the silkiness and higher melting point of gelato over ice-cream. After considerable research, I’ve found out why gelato is different from ice-cream:

-      Gelato  contains a much lower cream to milk ratio than ice-cream, so its fat content is lower
-      It usually contains a lot less egg yolks, or none at all.
-     The churning process is slower and incorporates less air into the custard-base, producing a denser custard.
-    Serving temperature. Gelato can withstand higher temperatures and is soft at temperatures where ice-cream would be soupy. 

Pumpkin Seed Ice-Cream base
Knowing that mine was going in a cold freezer, I ‘um’ and ‘ahh’-ed over whether gelato was going to work in a home-made ice cream machine. And yes, after a night in the freezer this gelato is just as solid as any homemade ice-cream. Nevertheless, this recipe works well with a gelato base. With much less cream and no eggs (which are forever soaring in price), it works out less expensive. Secondly, the toasted pumpkin-seed and spice flavour is more prominent using a gelato base as there is less fat to coat the tongue and taste buds. Not to mention the blindingly easy method, thickening the custard with corn flour. This makes up for the tricker process of making a dry caramel and crisp cones. Of course you can leave the gelato out of the freezer for a bit to soften.

For the base I adapted Jon Snyder's milk gelato recipe. 
Pumpkin seed praline

The flavour of the pumpkin seeds is intensified by toasting them before making the praline. There’s also a little salt and spice in my version. At first I skimped on the salt but it needs more than expected to get that contrast, which I think is needed to cut through the rich sweetness of the ice-cream. I think this is lacking a bit of fruity tang. I wanted to add some blackberries, but there were none in the shops. Next time I’ll try it with a plum sauce topping.

Pumpkin Seed Ice-Cream

I've made cones once before. They were baked which involves a lot less hassle and looks a lot better than the ones pictured (and I was only 13 years of age!). But sadly, our oven died last week! So as a temporary solution, we’re using a small convection-oven microwave. Since it would take ages to make the cones in a small oven, I tried the stove-top method. This didn’t work nearly as well; cooking unevenly and producing a malleable cone - the last thing you want to dig your teeth in to. So after all the effort, time and burnt fingers making individual crepes and forming them by hand, they flopped, and needed time in the oven! The brown sugar and spices in the cone gave it a great flavour though, so I'm glad I didn't use shop-bought ones. Below I’ve used the same recipe but changed the cooking process so you don't have to repeat my mistakes!

Homemade Spiced Pumpkin Seed Praline Ice-Cream in Gingersnap Cones

Serves 8

Pumpkin Seed Praline
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds (not fresh ones)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

Line a small tray with baking paper. Toast pumpkin seeds with spices in a non-stick frying pan, add salt and transfer to a plate. In the same pan stir sugar and honey together over a low heat, until dissolved. Increase heat, boil mixture for 5-10 minutes until golden. Stir in toasted seeds and immediately pour onto prepared, spread so that mixture is under 1cm thick. Cool completely, then break into small chunks. Blend in a food processor until it forms crumbs. Remove 1/2 cup crumbs, then blend the rest of the praline until it forms a paste. You may have to add add a touch of oil to help the process, and if this doesn't work, blend in a few tbsp gelato base. The paste should look thick and green, don't worry if some crumbs remain.

Milk Gelato Base (No Eggs!)

250-300ml heavy cream
3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
45ml cornstarch

1.Bring cream and 2 cups of the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl beat a small amount of the remaining milk into sugar and cornstarch until it forms a paste, then add the remaining milk.

2. Remove pan from heat and stir in milk–cornstarch mixture. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl, stir in praline paste and set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, 2–3 hours.

3. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions, around twenty minutes. With the machine still running, add the cruncy praline crumbs. Transfer mixture to a freezer-suitable container and freeze until needed, at least an hour for best results.

Gingersnap Cones

1/8 tsp salt
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp gorund cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
55ml packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
50g grams granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour
oil, for greasing

Preheat oven to Whisk sugar and eggs together, whisk in other wet ingredients until smooth. It should resemble crepe batter. If too thick, add a touch of milk. Line baking trays with baking paper. Spread 2 tbsp of batter to make a circle 6 inches in diameter. The mixture should make 8-9 cones, bake for 10-15 minutes. One by one, loosen each circle from the tray and immediately form into a cone. Work quickly. If you don't own one of those fancy cone-forming gadgets and its too hot to form with your hands, use a tea towel. Hold the shape for a few seconds until the cone hardens, then place onto a wire rack. If the remaining cones are too firm to form, return to oven for a minute longer. Repeat this process with left over batter.

Best eaten on the day. If not, pop them in the oven to crisp up again.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for linking this recipe up at Recipe Sharing Monday! The new link party is up and I'd love to see you back. Have a great week. :)


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