Gingerbread Ice Cream

Just when I thought, after making whoopie pies, a bundt cake, blondies and pancakes, that I might be over gingerbread and ready to move on and explore other flavors this holiday season, I came across another recipe that I just had to have in my life.  I was in bed flipping through cookbooks (you read cookbooks in bed too, right?) when I saw this gingerbread ice cream.  It’d been months(!!) since I’d made homemade ice cream so I was definitely craving it, and as I scanned the ingredient list, I realized this had the potential to be ridiculously good.  If it hadn’t been nearly midnight and if my flannel sheets hadn’t been oh so cozy, I just might have been crazy enough to go downstairs and throw the custard together that night.

Gingerbread Ice Cream

For a variety of reasons, I didn’t actually wind up making this ice cream until a few days later, but it was 100% worth the wait.  I enjoyed this so much I’m half tempted to make several batches before Christmas and gift it to family and friends, though it’s probably a better idea in theory than reality.  “Here, open your present – quickly, before it melts.”  The gingerbread flavor in the ice cream is complex, thanks to the combination of ingredients the recipe calls for.  The milk and cream are infused with fresh ginger to create the base, then molasses and brown sugar are added, and finally lots of warm spices, to ensure every bite of this ice cream screams holiday.  Texturally, it was great too – firm, but not so firm I couldn’t scoop it straight from the freezer, and not at all icy (even though I’d used 1% milk in place of whole).  I know we’re all about cookies this time of year, but if you want to branch out and try something different, I suggest starting here.  No matter how cold it might be outside, it’s never too cold for homemade ice cream!

Gingerbread Ice Cream
from Gingerbread by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1%)
One 3-4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk and fresh ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes to an hour, then strain the mixture, discarding the ginger.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat just until it comes to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a heatproof bowl. Slowly add the warm milk/cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170-175 F on an instant read thermometer).  Strain the custard into a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is good). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour.

Makes about 1 1/4 quarts