Sunday, October 5, 2014

FF: Pumpkin Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches...whew!

After last weeks EPIC pumpkin failures, I think this week's recipe is SO GOOD that it will make up for it. I kept plugging along with recipe ideas, but decided to scrap trying to do two different recipes to enter into the Giant Pumpkin Festival our city holds every year.  With all of the stuff going on with Scar this week, and work being kinda busy as well, I decided I would probably have better luck just focusing on one. I also went back through and looked at the winning recipes for the past three years, and one of them was a pumpkin trifle, which was what I was originally working on. They aren't going to pick a trifle two years in a row, so I planned on going in a different direction all together and making the ice cream sandwiches that I mentioned in last week's post. I was nervous about making ice cream, because it's been so hot, but thought it would be different and interesting, so I gave it a go.

They. Are. Amazing.

And here they are... Pumpkin Pecan Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches.... Ta Da! (Whew! That's a mouthful, but so are they!) They are made with homemade pumpkin ice cream and a pecan caramel sauce, sandwiched between two snickerdoodle cookies. Pretty much all things good in the world.

Oh! And the best part... I won 3rd Place! Woo Hoo! I got a ribbon, a certificate and a really sweet gift basket. I'll take 3rd place, considering this was my first ever recipe contest. I'm already planning on new ideas for next year's pumpkin recipe contest (I might be getting a little over zealous with this one!). I'm just really proud of myself for making them, and really putting myself out there and trying something new. Woot!

And here's how to make them:

The first step before you do anything is to remove any Littlest Pet Shops, My Little Pony Combs and Princess earrings from your mixing bowl. Okay this might be something that is limited to my house, kids and kitchen! I find Scar's toys in the most random places, and today was no exception.

1. The Ice Cream - For this, if you are short on time or don't have an ice cream maker, it's definitely acceptable to go out and buy some pumpkin ice cream at the store. Some places sell pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice latte flavors, which would be equally as amazing. But if you want to make your own, here's what to use:

  • 1 3/4 Cup of Whole Milk 
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar (Packed) 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Molasses 
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Pumpkin Puree
  • 3 Teaspoons of Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Ground Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg 
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cloves
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Half and Half
  • 3 Teaspoons of Vanilla 
Blend the whole milk, brown sugar, molasses and pumpkin with a mixer until well combined, and and smooth consistency, Then add in the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) as well as the half and half and vanilla. Blend until well combined, then slowly pour into your ice cream maker.

This is what it looks like before you pour it in:

I had to process this in my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for about 25 minutes, but this churning time may vary depending on your machine. Once it's ready it will look like a lumpy soft serve ice cream. The water from the pumpkin hardens before anything, it might not look the prettiest, but it super yummy. Then you can transfer it to an airtight container and put it in the freezer to set up a little more, while you work on the other components of the sandwich.

2. For The Pecan Caramel: This caramel sauce is an ice-cream caramel, not a "regular" caramel recipe. If you use a regular caramel recipe, it will thicken and harden too much when it touches the cold ice cream, which makes it incredibly difficult to eat. This sauce will thicken, but never get to that super gooey caramel consistency, but it will taste just a great!

  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar (Packed) 
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 4 Tablespoons of Buttter 
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract 
  • 3/4 Cup of Chopped Pecans 

Add in the brown sugar, whipping cream and butter to a small pan. Whisk together for 6-8 minutes,  until the mixture starts to thicken.

Add in the vanilla extract, and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes, stirring continuously. 

Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. While sitting, place the chopped pecans in a small pan and toast over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Once the pecans have toasted, add them into the caramel sauce and transfer sauce to a lidded container. Put the container in the fridge to thicken and finish cooling. 

3. For the Snickerdoodle Cookies:

Cinnamon Topping:
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon 
  • 3 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon of Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract 
In a small bowl or on a small plate, mix the topping ingredients (the cinnamon and sugar) together. Set aside for later use.

In a mixing bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon) and set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the sugar, and continue to mix. After sugar and butter are well combined, add in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla and beat for 1-2 additional minutes.

Next, slowly add in the dry ingredients (1/3 at a time) to the butter mixture, and mix until the dough comes together. At this point you will need to check your dough. Grab a small piece and roll in in the palms of your hands to form a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, then put the dough in some plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up. If it doesn't then you are good to go! This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Take small chunks of the dough and roll it into balls that are about the size of a walnut. Then take each ball and roll it around in the cinnamon sugar topping mixture you made at the beginning. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, give them more room than you would expect (like 2 inches or so) because they do expand a lot.

Put them in the oven, on a center rack, for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops look like they have slightly cracked, and the edges are golden brown. Let them cool for 4-5 minutes before you move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. If you try to move them too soon, they will fall apart. They need that 4-5 minutes to firm up a bit.

Assembling the Sandwiches: 

The first time I tried to assemble the sandwiches, I just put a scoop of ice cream on one of the cookies, and then tried to squish it with the other cookie. In theory, this would work wonderfully. In practice, the cookies broke, and it was too much ice cream overall. They were messy, and didn't look that great. 

So instead, here's what you do. Line a 13x9 inch baking dish with wax paper. Scoop the pumpkin ice cream into the dish, add the completely cooled pecan caramel sauce on top. Then, using a spatula, spread the ice cream out until it is evenly covering the dish, and about an inch or so thick (this doesn't have to be exact). Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap, then return the ice cream to the freezer, so that it will harden again, which should take about an hour.

After that, remove the baking dish, and using a circle cookie cutter, or a round glass, cut out circles from the frozen ice cream/caramel mixture. It will essentially make a sort of flat ice-cream patty. Take that patty and place it on one of the snicker doodle cookies and top it with another cookie. Because you created a flat ice cream "patty" the cookies lay nicely on either side, and help hold the sandwich together. Sometimes the patties get a little soft in the process, so I like to wrap them up in plastic wrap, and put them back in the fridge for just a bit. 

Once you've got your patties, put one of them between two of the snickerdoodle cookies, and your ice cream sandwiches are done! Here's the final product (just before I turned them into the judges).

Let me know if you make them, I would love to see pictures of how these turn out for you! They are so yummy, and I'm super excited to eat the extras of my *ahem* Award Winning *ahem* Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches...hahaha... 

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