By Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Media Services
We all have traditional holiday dishes that family and friends request every year. It is comforting to be able to put these favorites on the Thanksgiving table. Yet it's also fun to start new traditions with updates on classics.
For me, the change began when my daughter rejected an old standby, pumpkin praline pie. She just wouldn't eat it, and it drove me crazy, so I thought about different ways to keep the flavors alive in a new guise. That's how I came up with an ice cream dessert that has become as popular as the pumpkin pie.
Among the variations I have made on this pie, the one I like the most has a top embellished with a caramel swirl. The pie is easy to serve. Simply unmold the pie shell before it is filled, which allows the slices to be cut and removed from the pie plate easily. After a big holiday dinner, a slice of this pie is a refreshing finale. Pumpkin-caramel ice cream pie is now required for our Thanksgiving dessert table.
Another nice thing about this pie is that it can be made weeks ahead and frozen, freeing up time for you to concentrate on the rest of your menu.
Pumpkin-caramel ice cream pie
Prep: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Freeze: 4 hours
Bake: 6 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups gingersnap crumbs, about 25 cookies ground into fine crumbs in a food processor
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 pints pumpkin ice cream
1/4 cup chilled caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought, plus more, warmed, for serving
16 pecan halves
1. For the crust, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Tightly line a 9-inch pie plate (with 2-inch sides) with aluminum foil. Mix the pecans and gingersnap crumbs together in a bowl. Add the butter; toss to blend well. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake until just set, 6 minutes. Let cool.
2.Chill the crust in the freezer, 2 hours. Unmold the pie shell onto a flat surface. Very carefully peel away the foil so the shell stays intact. Return it to the pie plate.
3. For the filling, soften the ice cream in a bowl; mix with a spoon until no lumps remain. Spoon into the pie shell; smooth the top. With a teaspoon, dot the top of the pie with the caramel sauce. Use a skewer to make a pretty swirl or other design, moving it back and forth about 1/2 inch deep into the ice cream. Arrange the pecan halves around the outside edge of the pie, pushing them into the ice cream a bit.
4. Freeze the pie, at least 2 hours. When it's frozen, cover tightly with foil; freeze up to 1 month. To serve, thaw slightly in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes. Cut into wedges; serve with warm caramel sauce, if you like.
Per serving: 317 calories, 19 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 115 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
Makes about 1 cup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium-heavy saucepan. Do not use a dark colored pan, or you will not be able to see the color of the caramel. Dissolve the sugar in water over low heat. Turn up the heat and continually swirl the pan over the flame. The mixture will become bubbly. If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, cover it for 1 minute to dissolve them. Boil the mixture until it turns a dark golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Watch carefully, as the caramel can burn easily, and if it is too dark, it will continue to cook and taste burnt.
2. Remove the caramel from the heat and let it cool, making sure it is still liquid. Return the caramel sauce to low heat and stir in the cream and vanilla, constantly stirring to create a caramel sauce. The mixture may look separated, but continue to whisk it and it will become smooth in a few minutes. Keep warm if serving immediately.
Note: May be prepared up to 5 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
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