Pie season is upon us. First, there was Thanksgiving, of course, but the entire stretch of winter holidays brings more and more pie. Which is perfectly fine with me. I love pie — eating it, baking it — but it is a bit of a labor of love. Unless you shape and freeze your crust, or make your dough in advance, baking a pie takes some time and elbow grease. But every time I do it, I remember why it’s worth the effort.
Pie is a study in contrast. A crisp, buttery, flaky crust cradles a soft filling of cooked fruit or silky custard or the gooey base of a pecan pie. Pie is good warm and exceptionally good cold. And pie practically cries out for a scoop of ice cream.
The marriage of ice cream and pie is one of the nicest pairings in the dessert world. But why not take it a step further? I’ve seen pie shakes on menus (where a slice of pie is blended with ice cream into a milkshake), but that loses all the delicious texture of the pie itself.
This year I realized what I should have been making all along: pie ice cream. Not only do you get the fun of eating both together, but you cut down on some of the trickier elements of pie-baking, like rolling out the crust and shaping it. I highly recommend making this for holiday parties this year — it’s such a novel approach to a classic dessert.
Now, if you want all the fun of pie ice cream with none of the fuss, you can go the store-bought route. Take a slice of leftover pie, smoosh it up with a fork — taking care to leave large chunks of crust intact — fold it into slightly softened ice cream, then refreeze. Voila! Instant pie ice cream.
But if you want to make a full batch of homemade pie ice cream (and you really should), here’s how I do it. My favorite is chocolate pecan pie ice cream: the gooey, sugary interior of a pecan pie makes a nice ribbon-like swirl in ice cream, while the nuts add a delightful crunch. Throw in some chopped chocolate for good measure, and it’s downright addictive.
First, I make a half-recipe of my favorite all-butter pie crust. I roll it out (and here’s where it gets easier than pie), not worrying about the shape and keeping it thick, about 1/4-inch.
I prick it with a fork and bake it at 350°F on a parchment-lined baking sheet until it’s golden brown. While it cools, I make the base of my ice cream and the pecan filling. I like to use a simple eggless ice cream base here, which is a bit less rich than its yolk-laden counterpart. Feel free to use your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe.
For the pecan pie swirl, I simply cook all the ingredients you find in a pecan pie filling on the stovetop. A few extras steps—adding a splash of brandy and toasting your nuts first — make all the difference. Churn your ice cream according to your machine’s instructions, then about 5 minutes before it’s ready, add in the pecan filling, a handful of chopped chocolate, and your crumbled pie crust.
And there you have it: pie and ice cream, all in one bite. Give those store-bought pints a run for their money this year.
Chocolate Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Makes: 1 quart
For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
1 cup whole milk, very cold
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the mix-ins:
1 1/4 cups (150g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons ice water
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted lightly
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 cup (57g or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
Click here to read the full recipe.