I’m a New Englander at heart when it comes to ice cream. We not only eat it all year round, we also line up for it all year round. This includes outside, in the middle of winter.
For example, on sub-freezing January days in Boston, it’s not uncommon to see lines about 15 or 20 people deep outside any J.P. Licks or Toscanini’s (just to get inside, where the line continues), next to massive snowbanks on the sidewalk left over from a storm the day before. Who knows the reasoning behind this? Maybe extra body fat allows you to endure winter a little better.
So I have no qualms about making ice cream into the coldest, darkest months. I had started experimenting over the summer quite a bit, churning out eight batches in the first month after receiving my ice cream maker, including black sesame, mint, coconut, French vanilla, and an equal number of sorbets. But an experiment from last week, apple pie ice cream, proved to be the best of the bunch.
Ice cream is, after all, the classic topping for apple pie. So why not combine the two into a single dessert you can save and eat out of the freezer at any time?
And this recipe really couldn’t be easier. The ice cream base in this recipe is classic Philadelphia-style (loosely adapted from the Vanilla Ice Cream in The Joy of Cooking), which doesn’t require adding eggs to form a custard. Instead, you just heat up the cream to dissolve the sugar, add milk and more cream to the mixture, and chill before churning. The apples are simple baked with brown sugar and dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. And for something to represent the crust, I also tossed crumbled graham crackers into the ice cream maker when the ice cream was also frozen.
I expected it to taste good, but it closer to amazing, even right out of the ice cream maker before freezing. And after freezing, it was heaven in a ramekin.
So try this out for Thanksgiving or just any old time. Or for an even more intense experience, bake an apple pie and serve this on top.
Apple Pie Ice Cream
Ice Cream Base
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
About 1 tablespoon softened butter, for buttering the baking dish
4 to 5 graham crackers, broken into bite-sized crumbles
- Ice cream base – In a medium pot, combine 1 cup of the heavy cream, the sugar, and the salt. Over medium-low heat, stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the heat mixture into a bowl. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, the milk, and vanilla extract. Cover the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Apple mixture – Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into 1/2-inch cubes or otherwise tiny pieces. Toss the apples in the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Spread the apples into a thin layer in a butter baking dish. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until the apples are softened and intensely aromatic. Allow the apples to cool to room temperature and strain out the excess liquid. Either use immediately or cover and store in the fridge until ready to use. (This can also be done 1 to 2 days in advance.)
- Churning the ice cream – Pour the cream mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Halfway through the mixing time, add the apples. When the ice cream is almost frozen, add the graham cracker crumbles and churn for another minute so that it is well-incorporated into the mixture. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.