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Fall in Florida: Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

I’ve always been one to choose seasonal ingredients when I cook. For one, seasonal ingredients are usually cheaper – but most importantly, seasonal ingredients are picked at the peak of their freshness so they taste great.

The one season I wait on all year is fall. There is something about squash, sweet potatoes, hearty greens, apples, and beets that I crave. But most of these ingredients lend themselves to warm and hearty fare. While that’s fine in most parts of the US, here in Florida it is difficult to wrap your brains around thick, steaming dishes when the forecast for Halloween is 87 degrees. See my dilemma?

That’s why this dessert is perfect for Florida. I have been playing around with this recipe for quite some time, and I think I’ve finally nailed it. It screams fall, is totally decadent, and cools you down on those chilly fall evenings where the temperature bottoms out at 70. It follows the basic principles of a good pumpkin pie, which is why it tastes amazing. And nothing has really ever been harmed by adding chocolate, now has it?

For some reason people look at ice cream making as a big, involved process. It’s not, especially with the new ice cream freezers on the market. It only takes 20 minutes or so to make the base; then you chill it down (in an ice bath, that can be as short as an hour); and then toss it into the ice cream freezer for 20-30 minutes. It really couldn’t be simpler – and the return on investment is tremendous. Besides, I can put this quart of Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream together for less than three bucks. How much is a quart of gourmet gelato at the store? (Last time I looked, over $6.)

But be careful – we got in the habit of making ice cream several years ago, and we can no longer buy most of the selections that come from the grocery store. I don’t know if you’d call us ice cream snobs, but now the mass produced stuff just tastes like chemicals and preservatives. If you make enough ice cream yourself, it will happen to you too – consider yourself warned.

The one piece of advice I will give you about this recipe – my ice cream maker absolutely did not like it when I tried using chocolate chips. The pieces were much too large for the ice cream dasher. Get a bar of chocolate and chop it into fairly small pieces. It will work much better for you. Also, I use a good quality dark chocolate. I think it pairs better with the pumpkin than milk chocolate did (of course, I’m not a big fan of milk chocolate either, so that may have something to do with it).

So enjoy a taste of the fall season without breaking into a sweat. And if you find a way to bag this up and give out for trick-or-treaters, let me know. I still haven’t figured that one out yet.

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream


Beat the Florida heat and still enjoy the great tastes of Autumn

  • 2 C half & half
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cloves or a pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 allspice berries (crushed (or a pinch of ground allspice))
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 C finely chopped dark chocolate
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add half & half, sugar, vanilla seeds, vanilla pod, salt, cloves, and allspice.
  2. Heat until wisps of steam rise and very small bubbles begin to form at the edge (do not let it simmer).
  3. In the meantime, add egg yolks, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to a heat-safe mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
  4. When half & half mixture comes to temperature, very slowly whisk into egg mixture. Be careful not to add too much at once or it will curdle the eggs. (when in doubt, add a ladle at a time and whisk continuously until incorporated).
  5. Return mixture to saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer).
  6. Strain mixture through a sieve into mixing bowl.
  7. Bring to room temperature, cover in plastic wrap, then chill in refrigerator 4-6 hours (or overnight)
  8. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions for your ice cream maker.
  9. During the last 2 or 3 minutes of churning, add chopped chocolate and continue until mixed thoroughly.
  10. If you desire a firm texture, place ice cream into the freezer for 3 or 4 hours.