Ever wonder why we carve pumpkins at Halloween? On October 31 in Ireland, people used to hollow out turnips and potatoes, put candles in them, and place them in their windows to light the way home for the souls of the dead. When Irish immigrants came to the US in the nineteenth century, they did the same – with the larger local pumpkins.
By the middle of the century, Americans were celebrating Halloween with parties, bobbing for apples, and dressing up in costumes.
Halloween became a kids’ holiday after World War II when sugar rationing ended, and candy was available again. On the night itself, little kids dressed up in simple, often home-made costumes, and walked around their neighborhoods looking for treats and threatening tricks. The role of grown-ups was to accompany kids too young to go out on their own. Or to stay home and dole out candy to the ghouls and goblins on their doorsteps, while pretending to be scared of the little monsters.
Now Halloween is a holiday for adults.
Halloween pop-up stores sell costumes for every age, size, and fantasy. You can buy decorations guaranteed to transform your home into the spookiest of haunted houses. Pumpkin carving kits are changing the face of jack-o’-lanterns. Halloween cards abound. Bakeries and supermarkets feature cupcakes that look like bats, witches, or spiders. Halloween magazines are filled with recipes for ghoulish treats and blood-curdling cocktails for your party. And it’s not just one night anymore. Halloween is celebrated all weekend long. That’s why it’s second only to Christmas in its impact on the economy.
If you’re hopping on the Halloween bandwagon but you’d rather have something less creepy and more tasty than gummy worms, I’ve got the perfect non-scary dessert for you – pumpkin ice cream.
By the way, it’s great for Thanksgiving, too.
Pumpkin ice cream
1 cup canned, unsweetened pumpkin purée
3 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier
Combine pumpkin purée and cream in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until thoroughly mixed. Combine sugars with spices, then stir into pumpkin mixture. Simmer, stirring until sugars dissolve. Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla or Grand Marnier and let cool.
When it’s cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
Churn in your ice cream machine, following manufacturer’s instructions. Store tightly covered in freezer until ready to serve. Makes one quart. – Ice Cream: The Ultimate Cold Comfort, Jeri Quinzio.
If you must, serve it with some candy corn sprinkled on top.
Image from Wikipedia by Jackins