Yes, Halloween is here. It is kind of a new holiday for me and even after 10 years of being here, I still enjoy playing dress up and waiting for little goblins and witches to knock on my door. You can see the excitement in the kids' eyes as they prepare their costumes and have them laid out on the bed, ready for their big day. You can sense that pre-sugar rush as they get ready to go trick or treating. Seems like we are going to have a small Halloween block party with sugar, chocolate and a hay ride around the neighborhood.
After SHF, I spent most of the weekend baking and decorating Halloween cookies and I can say that after many dozens of pumpkins, ghosts, bats and cats that I have no desire of becoming a cookie decorator. The novelty wore out after the first 2 dozens. My fingers are covered in orange, black and green food coloring. I believe I have more sugar sparkles in my hair than Dolly Parton has sequin on her dress, but that is for another post!
No Halloween would be complete without carving a pumpkin. Problem is, I got one much more for getting the flesh and seeds than for the carving itself so my design remained minimal. I only had one thought in mind: I wanted to make pumpkin seed brittle as I thought it would make a nice edible garnish to a warm slice of Apple Cinnamon Cake. My mind kept on going and I thought that ice cream would be great with it too, but not necessarily vanilla. I was browsing through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours, when I found this incredible ice cream recipe. It is smooth and creamy, caramely but not too sweet. It was good enough to eat on its own but incredible combine with the cake and the brittle.
Burnt Sugar Ice Cream, adapted from Dorie Greenspan:
1 cup sugar
3 b. water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Stir the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook until it becomes a caramel of deep amber color. Lower the heat and add the milk and cream. It will bubble like mad but continue stirring until it is smooth, remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks and salt until a little thick, slowly pour the hot milk mixture over it and whisk to tamper the yolks. Put back into the saucepan and cook until it coats the back of a spoon (creme anglaise consistency or 170 degrees F).
Let cool completely and churn into your ice cream maker. Freeze for 2 hours or moreor until firm to scoop....if you can wait that long!
Pumpkin Seed Brittle, from Martha Stewart
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed well, dried, and toasted
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 11-by-17- inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is medium amber and a candy thermometer registers 280°, about 6 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Cook until mixture reaches 300°, about 2 minutes. Pour onto prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break into pieces.