Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Cake

Do you like pumpkin pie? I've met very few people who do. This cake started out as me thinking, "I want to make a pumpkin pie that people actually want to eat."

I started brainstorming ways to amp up the crust, but the main problem was the texture. It's so rich and weirdly texture. No one likes it. I started imagining a wonderfully creamy texture instead of the sometimes-gritty-sometimes-pasty-altogether-too-weird texture of normal pumpkin pie. My mind imagined pumpkin pie with an ice cream like texture, and then I realized I should just make it an ice cream cake.

Also the other problem I have with pumpkin pie is the crust. The basic pie crust of classic pumpkin pie can be bland and boring. Maybe I've just never had a mind-blowing pie crust of anything, but I decided I wasn't going to bother with it. I made the pie crust out of ice cream too.

I adapted a Jeni's ice cream for the pumpkin, of course. And I adapted Momofuku's graham crust ice cream to be pie crust. The pumpkin was dee-licious. The pie crust ice cream was good, I wanted the flavor to be more obvious, but it was definitely distinctive and yummy. 

And then this crumb. Holy cow. It made this cake.

I had originally been planning to sprinkle pretzel crumb and salted caramel on top of the pumpkin pie. So then that was easily transferred into this ice cream cake idea. And it was phenomenal. Pretzel crumb and salted caramel sauce together are a match jsut as perfect as chocolate and peanut butter. And it definitely worked together with the pumpkin. Like when you add banana to chocolate and peanut butter, you can add pumpkin to salted caramel and pretzel and it works.

So the result of my quest to create a perfect pumpkin pie? No pumpkin pie, but an ice cream cake that will knock your socks off.



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Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Cake

1 recipe pumpkin ice cream

1 recipe pie crust ice cream

1 recipe pretzel crunch

1 recipe salted caramel sauce

Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper of aluminum foil and spread one of the ice creams (I suggest the pumpkin, as it is firmer) on the bottom. Freeze until firm. Then sprinkle 1/2 of the pretzel crunch on top, drizzle or spread salted caramel sauce on top of that (be generous!) and 1/4 more of the pretzel crunch. Freeze until firm again. Then spread the second ice cream (pie crust) on top and sprinkle with the remaining pretzel crunch. Freeze until totally firm, then serve.


Pumpkin Ice Cream

3/4 cup pumpkin pureé
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup maple syrup
1¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
2. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and the maple syrup and whisk until smooth.
3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

1. Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and pumpkin pie spice in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
2. 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.

3. Pour into cream cheese pumpkin mixture and whisk together. Pour into a plastic bag and submerge the plastic bag in the ice bath for at least 30 minutes, or until cool.

4. Pour into your ice cream machine and spin until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a plastic container, cover in a layer of parchment paper, and freeze until ready for use.

Pie Crust Ice Cream

1/2 cup pie crust crumb

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon plain powdered gelatin

1/34 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Soak cooled pie crust in a pitcher with the milk for 20 minutes at room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, squeezing out as much milk as possible but not forcing through any bits of pie crust mush. (Discard the mush)

Sprinkle gelatin over two tablespoons of water.

Warm pie crust milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. Whisk in the remaining graham milk, heavy cream, corn syrup, sugar, milk powder, and salt until everything is dissolved.

Pour through a fine mesh sieve into your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in a tuppeware, covered with parchment paper, until ready for use in the recipe.

Pie Crust Crumbs
makes about 2 ¾ cups

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons water

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until well mixed.

3. add the butter and water and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.

4. spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat- lined sheet pan. bake for 25 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. the crumbs should be golden brown and still slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.

5. let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Pretzel Crunch

12 cup mini pretzel
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk powder
1 tablespoon malt powder
7 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Heat the oven to 275°F.

2. Pour the pretzels in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters.

3. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.


Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) good-quality salted butter (I like an Irish or French butter)
1⁄2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup to the warming pan. Whisk the sugar occasionally as it begins to heat, to ensure that the sugar cooks evenly.
Cook the sugar to a nice dark copper color. The sugar will go from golden to dark copper fairly quickly. To help control the sugar, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner just before you reach the dark color you’d like. The bottom of the pan will still be hot enough to continue to cook the sugar.
Over low heat, whisk butter, all at once, into the copper-colored sugar. When butter is melted, pour in the cream. The mixture will bubble and froth, but keep mixing. When bubbling subsides, add vanilla extract. Stir. The caramel might feel too loose. Don’t worry; it will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate before use.

Pumpkin Ice Cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams; Pie crust ice cream and pretzel crunch from Momofuku Milk Bar; Salted Caramel Sauce from Joy the Baker;