What's your favorite season? Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I never really understood seasons. We had one beautiful month per year-- August-- and then a lot of grey skies for the other 11 months. If we were lucky, we'd get an inch or two of snow and we all thought we were experiencing winter. Four years in the middle of Iowa (Hello, Grinnell!) exposed me to what winter is really all about. But, fall? Fall, I never really understood until after college when I moved to NYC.
On the East Coast, I finally learned what all the fall-fuss was about. Leaves change! You go apple picking! I swear, there is nothing like sipping hot cider and enjoying an apple cider donut under a crisp blue sky that is framed by brilliantly red, orange, and yellow leaves. Nothing.
So, yeah, I might have to say that fall is my favorite season. Great food comes with the fall-- apple cider, pumpkin-flavored everything, soups and, really, just buckets of apple cider. I have a great recipe for a gluten-free skillet apple crisp which I'll hopefully post soon. We make it every year. Multiple times.
Anyways, this year, I began to wonder if I could combine the yumminess of the skillet apple crisp with my ice cream making obsession. Since I have not fallen in love with making ice creams (or custards, to be specific) with egg yolks, I decided to go with Jeni's ice cream base. Her cookbook "Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home" has a baked apple sorbet recipe, but I wanted to make an ice cream. Something about the apple flavor mixed with the creaminess of ice cream drove me to the successful kitchen experiment I call "Apple Crisp Ice Cream!"
I hope you like it!
Gluten-Free Apple Crisp Ice Cream, (approx 1 qt)
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp tapioca starch (you can use cornstarch instead)
- 1.5 oz (3 TBSPs) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 tsp plus a small pinch of sea salt
- 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 TBSP light corn syrup
- 1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 cup gluten-free flour
- dash of cinnamon
- 6 TBSP packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cups gf old-fashioned oats, I like Bob's Red Mill
Get your multi-tasking hat on because this recipe will have you making a few things at once. Start by making your crisp mix-in/topping. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add butter, gf flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt to a bowl. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, quickly cut the butter into the mixture. When the butter cubes have been broken up fairly evenly and the mixture looks like coarse sand, mix in the gf oats.
Spread the crisp out on an ungreased baking sheet, breaking up any large chunks. Bake for approx. 20-30 minutes, turning the sheet and stirring the crisp every 5-10 minutes. Bake until the crisp looks toasty brown. Let cool completely on baking sheet and then freeze until you're ready to use. Crisp will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
While your crisp is baking, bring 2 cups apple cider and 1 cup granulated sugar to a boil over high heat, swirling the pot occasionally. Boil the mixture until the cider is as thick as maple syrup. This takes approx. 15 minutes. You'll know you've boiled it down enough when the bubbles are thick and foamy and you have about 1/2- 1/3 cup apple cider syrup. Remove the syrup from the heat. (Note- be sure you don't do this step too far ahead of adding it to your ice cream base or else it will harden up into apple cider candy.)
Remember how I asked you to multi-task? Well, here's your last multi-tasking challenge. You can do it! While your crisp is baking and your cider is reducing, whisk 2 TBSPs milk with the tapioca starch in a small bowl until smooth. Blend the cream cheese with the salt in a medium-sized bowl, and bring 2 cups of whole milk (minus 2 TBSP), the heavy cream, the remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and the corn syrup to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Let this mixture boil for approx. 4 minutes.
So, just to recap.... you have the crisp toasting up in the oven or already chilling in the freezer.... you have a small pot of apple cider & sugar reducing... you have a tapioca starch slurry on the countertop in a small bowl.... you have a softened mixture of cream cheese and salt also on the countertop in a medium-sized bowl.....and, finally, you have a larger pot of milk and cream boiling briefly on the stove. Phew, that sounds like a lot. You do not need to do this all at the same time.... I'm just trying to condense the recipe a bit.
Ok, now, it's Go Time. After approx. 4-minutes of boiling, remove the milk mixture from the heat and gradually whisk in the tapioca starch slurry and the reduced apple cider/syrup. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until it starts to thicken. This should take about 1 minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour slowly into your cream cheese bowl. Whisk until smooth.
Now, it's Chill Time. Pour the ice cream base into a larger Ziploc bag and place bag in an ice bath for approx. 30 minutes. At this point, you can spin down your ice cream in your ice cream maker, or you can place it in the fridge for up to a day before pulling out your ice cream maker. I waited about 3 hours before spinning to give the ice cream base time to fully cool off and deepen the flavors a bit.
Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and spin until it starts to thicken up and becomes like soft-serve. To turn this ice cream from and apple cider ice cream to an apple crisp ice cream, you're going to fill your ice cream tub with alternating layers of ice cream and frozen crisp. Take turns between ice cream and crisp, adding a thick sprinkling of crisp each time and reserving some crisp to use as a topping when serving. Once your tub is full, place a small sheet of parchment paper over the top and seal tightly. Let ice cream firm up in the freezer at least 4 hours before serving. Top with the reserved crisp.