Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Butternut Squash Gelato with Candied Walnuts

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Butternut squash gelato? It’s not as loony as you think.  Once it’s roasted and pureed, butternut squash  develops a creaminess that is perfect for gelato.  And with so much squash that accidentally germinated and climbed all over our yew bushes from seeds tossed out as compost, I wanted to try something beyond the usual risotto or ravioli.

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This gelato has all the flavors of fall with cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, a combination I wasn’t sure I would like. But before altering the recipe, I thought I owed it to myself to try it as written by restaurateur Pino Luongo in his cookbook “La Mia Cucina Toscana.”

Well, I did make one small adjustment to the recipe, adding some dark rum to give it even more flavor. The rum really complemented Luongo’s flavor combinations perfectly and what emerged was a sweet and creamy ice cream redolent of pumpkin pie.  Now if only I can show a little more self-restraint every time I walk by the freezer, I might have enough leftover for Thanksgiving.  But don’t count on it.

If you’re curious to know the difference between gelato and ice cream, in general gelato is denser than ice cream since it doesn’t have as much air churned into it, and it usually has a lower butterfat content. I don’t know if you can say that about this recipe since it’s loaded with cream, but Luongo calls it gelato, so who am I to argue?

The candied nuts are a snap to make, although I will warn you, you’ll be left with a very sticky pan to clean. It’s worth it though. Besides, I used a cast iron pan and after soaking in water a bit, cleanup was easy.

Butternut Squash Gelato

from Pino Luongo’s “La Mia Cucina Toscana

printable recipe here

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

1 1/4 cups raw brown sugar (turbinado)

1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

4 large egg yolks

2 cups homemade or canned butternut squash puree (I roasted mine in the oven by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds and baking cut side down on a baking sheet for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Puree the flesh in a food processor.)

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

2 T. dark rum

  1. Pour the cream into a large heavy flameproof casserole and add the milk, brown sugar and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and beat them with a whisk until they turn pale yellow. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking continuously.
  3. Pour the mixture into the top of a double boiler set over low heat or into a bowl set on top of simmering water. Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, then remove from the heat and let cool. Add the rum.

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4. Place the butternut squash puree in a bowl and add 1 cup of the milk mixture, whisking continuously. Add the butternut squash mixture, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and ginger to the milk mixture, whisking continuously.

5. Process in an ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If desired, serve with candied walnuts.

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Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

2 T. water

1 1/2 cups walnuts

In a cast iron or heavy gauge skillet, place the sugar and water and cook over low heat until sugar is melted. Toss in the walnuts and cook gently until walnuts are coated and the syrup begins to crystallize and turn golden. Be careful because it can burn easily. It will all begin to stick together and I use two forks to try to keep it separated.

Have a sheet of buttered waxed paper ready (or a Silpat mat) and dump the walnuts onto it, Use two forks to separate the walnuts.

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  1. Looks so good and yummy!! Really makes me drooling...

  2. This is better than the Bent Spoon!
    I love the fall leaves and acorns around the gelato.

  3. Funny, last night i was thinking it might be nice to make a home made ice cream with Thanksgiving flavors and look what i find this morning. Perfect!

  4. Dosen't Ben and Jerry do a flavor contest each year? This would definately win! So unique. I would run out and buy some ASAP!

  5. very interesting combo. I have to get me an ice ceram maker soon...

  6. Ohh yeah. This looks fantastic Linda! So does the pasta I see below. Heading that way..

  7. Yummy! I can think of no better way to use up an excess of butternut squash! I've tasted pumpkin gelato, which was divine, so I'm imagining a similar flavor. I love candied walnuts..nice topping!

  8. This sounds and looks simply gorgeous! Absolutely love those candied walnuts!

  9. Interesting!! Kinda weird... but interesting!

  10. Molto interessante questo gelato, ha un aspetto favoloso, complimenti.
    Ciao Daniela.

  11. Butternut squash gelato? Really?!?! I would love to try this! I'll eat anything butternut squash related. (Then again...I'll eat anything.) How about a twist on my other favorite veggie...broccoli rabe. Anything loony up the other sleeve?


  12. You certainly have my attention. I wasn't sure at first - but who am I to argue with grand ingredients and stunning photos? Yes!

  13. OMG, this is fantastic. Love the addition of some dark rum. Now I've just got to find an ice cream maker I can borrow.

    A local pumpkin farmer told me that much of the canned pumpkin we buy at the grocery store is actually butternut squash. Makes sense.

  14. Amazing..truly amazing!!!
    I fell in love with gelato a few years ago and have neve looked back!

  15. It looks so delicious! I've seen already some "gelaterie" here in Italy selling "gelato di zucca" but I never tried it, now I guess I'll have to..........

  16. Wow, butternut squash gelato! Never had it, but of course! It makes sense, all these wonderful fall flavors. Have you had the olive oil gelato at Otto?

  17. oh wow!! butternut squash in a dessert form...that was actually a fairly easy mental jump considering the sweetness it tends to have. Fantastic!!!

  18. That ice cream is mouthwatering! what a fabulous flavor combo! Yummy!



  19. The Bent Spoon had pumpkin mascarpone ice cream last weekend which sounded so delicious for fall. Your gelato looks and sounds even more amazing! I think it is time to pull out the ice cream maker!

  20. Linda, this is an amazing recipe. Talk about a different way to use those fall flavours and squash!!!!!!

  21. Yum that gelato looks amazing! WOW!

  22. Wow! This looks and sounds amazing! Gorgeous pictures!

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