“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause
between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”
– Carol Bishop Hipps
I am so enjoying this perfect pause. A calm and quiet has settled in. The whir of the air conditioning, running constantly, faithfully, is hushed. The flannel sheets have been dug out from the back of the guest closet, along with sweaters and boots and light scarves. The mornings are darker, crisper, making it ever harder to escape the draw of cozy covers as rosy sunlight peeks in.
October is a beautiful time of year in the South, and I’ve been soaking up our little slice of countryside. The palette, turning dark and dusky as vibrant greens begin fading in to amber, coral and crimson, only encourages my urge to nest. Our kitchen has been a blur of baking and braising and slow simmering dishes, with aromatic spices lighting up the whole house. Autumn is in full swing.
I almost called this recipe Apple Pie Ice Cream because the flavors are so similar; it really does taste like a creamy bite of frozen apple pie. I hesitated only because there is no “crust” element per se, although if you indulge with a big scoop atop a waffle cone, you get pretty close. Either way, this ice cream combines the sweet and spicy combination of apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, in my mind, the quintessential flavors of Fall.
I also thought I’d suggest a few things to keep in mind when making homemade ice cream. Understanding that every fridge/freezer/ice cream machine is different, it’s generally good practice to ensure the following:
- Be sure that the bowl for the ice cream machine is completely frozen. For me, that means turning the freezer down to the coldest setting, freezing the bowl at least 24 hours before I plan to make ice cream, and placing the bowl in the very back of the freezer. If you make ice cream often, and have space, I find it convenient to simply store the bowl in the freezer, so that it’s always ready to go.
- Be sure to thoroughly chill the ice cream base and any mix-ins. I generally make sure to chill any ingredients in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and often overnight. You want the mixture(s) to be really, really cold when you begin churning.
- Take the canister out of the freezer at the last minute, and begin churning as quickly as possible. This will ensure that the container doesn’t defrost, which could lead to issues with the ice cream setting up.
- Add mix-in ingredients in the last couple of minutes of churning. I generally wait until the ice cream is basically set up before adding any caramels, nuts, chocolate etc., usually about 3-5 minutes before turning off the machine.
- Don’t over-churn. Most ice cream machines take about 20-25 minutes to churn a batch of ice cream. Continuing to churn beyond the recommended time generally won’t make the ice cream any colder or firmer in texture, as the frozen canister will begin to thaw.
- Freeze your ice cream after churning for a firmer texture. When your ice cream comes straight out of the machine, it will be soft – similar to the texture and consistency of soft-serve. Freezing the ice cream for an hour or two will create a firmer, more scoop-able texture.
Ice Cream Base
- 2–1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Cinnamon Apple Swirl
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until thoroughly chilled.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Toss the apples with the brown sugar and spices and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender, about 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and let cool. Cover and refrigerate along with the cream base.
- Prior to making the ice cream, whisk the cream base a few times, and pour into an 1-1/2 quart capacity ice cream machine. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and churn until the ice cream is frozen and fluffy, about the consistency of soft-serve (generally 20-25 minutes). About three to five minutes before the ice cream is ready, or when the ice cream looks like it is mostly set up, carefully pour in the cinnamon-apple mixture, and continue churning.
- Spoon the ice cream into freezer-safe containers, and for a firmer texture, cover and freeze for an hour or two.