Millions of people around the world are looking forward to Halloween and one of the most fun ways to celebrate is by carving an iconic “jack o’ lantern” pumpkin with a ghoulish face, illuminated from within with a candle.
The pumpkin is an important symbol of Halloween and is traditionally used to make pumpkin pie, a dessert made of sweet pastry, pumpkin puree and familiar mixed spices including clove, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Pumpkins are versatile. The young leaves of pumpkin plants are good for stir-frying, for example, while the seeds are added to bread, salads or cereal. In modern cuisine, the flesh of pumpkins are used in many different dishes, including salads, curry, casseroles, tempura, soup and dessert. It is easy and delicious to bake, steam, roast, barbecue or fry.
Pumpkins contain natural sugar and one of my favorite ways to cook pumpkin is by roasting it before adding to salad, making soup or any other dish.
It is easy to buy locally-grown pumpkins. You must choose pumpkins with a yellow-orange color skin with deep orange yellow flesh.
For this week’s recipe I have prepared a special pumpkin ice cream in the spirit of the season. It is delicious, and easy to make without an ice-cream maker. Enjoy!
Pumpkin ice cream, palm sugar caramel and mixed spices
Pumpkin, palm sugar, cream and spices might sound like strange combination for ice cream but it is actually a wonderful marriage of flavors. You can serve the ice cream with a small portion of pumpkin pie, victoria sponge cake, pancake or simply as it is, with roasted almond flakes. The flavor of this ice cream reminds me of the Indonesian dessert kolak, which is sweet potatoes with banana, coconut milk and palm sugar.
1.7 kg pumpkin; peeled, seeded and cut into chunk squares (700 gr cooked pumpkin); 2 tablespoons oil; 400 ml full-cream milk; 250 ml cream; 75 gr palm sugar; 8 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finally grated; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg; 1 cinnamon stick; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 4 egg yolks; 1 vanilla pod.
For palm sugar cream caramel: 125 gr palm sugar block, 50 ml water; 50 ml cream.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Drizzle the pumpkin squares with vegetable oil and place on baking tray, put in the oven and cook for around 25-30 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
2. Cut the vanilla pod into half and scrape the vanilla seeds with the back of a tablespoon. Put the milk into a large pan and add all the spices, including vanilla seeds and the pod and bring to simmer.
3. In a medium bowl, add the cream and then the egg yolk. Beat gently and strain the mixture into the pan and keep stirring. Add the sugar and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. This takes around 5-7 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring. After 10 minutes, remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod.
5. Put the roasted pumpkin into a food processor or strong blender. Add the cream mixture and process until the texture becomes soft and silky. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl. Set aside to cool in a refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
6. Chop the palm sugar block roughly, place into a pan and add 50 ml water. Heat the pan until the sugar has melted and caramelized. Strain, and put the mixture into a new pan and add the cream. Cook for an extra 3-4 minutes and leave it to cool.
7. Transfer one-third of the pumpkin puree mixture into an ice- cream container, drizzle half of the palm sugar over, then make another layer with one third of the pumpkin mixture drizzled with the rest of the palm sugar, topping it off with the rest of the pumpkin.
8. Freeze overnight. Ready to serve.