Rum Butternut Ice Cream

super squash-caramel sundae

Not butter rum ice cream, not just butternut squash ice cream (although you can just omit the rum if you care for that), but buttery, yummy rum butternut squash ice cream. Say that five times fast. Now try it after some more of that rum.

Lately, I’ve been familiarizing myself more and more with the savory side of winter squashes. Who can resist a creamy soup or mashed potatoes-like squashed squash? They’re my new favorite carb-cutters. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about gourds aside, it’s that most often, they’re large, heavy and unwieldy. And they need to be roasted for about an hour before you can think about doing anything with them. Basically, they demand a little more preparation and eating commitment than your average vegetable.

So when I was left with half a butternut squash from an earlier Tex-Mex style application, I decided to give these perpetual flip-floppers between sweet and savory one more flip. Assuming you’ve read the title of this post, you’ve guessed where that ended.

crazy carmelization

Since butternut is one of the more well-known squashes, with a reputation for intense sweet flavor, I was surprised that I didn’t find many recipes for it in ice cream form after a quick Internet search. This BBC recipe for a fresh ginger-infused one sprang up, but aside from that, our countrymen and women seemed to draw a collective blank. Yet squash in a custard form is not exactly unheard-of — our ancestors after all decided this was the only thing to do with the pumpkin, surrounded by a tart shell, besides carve faces on it until more recent years. Butternut squash seems even more inclined to dessert-making than pumpkin, with its velvety, solid texture and rich, almost carroty sweetness. These are New World fruits we’re talking. Are we to stand idly by while other countries create ice cream concoctions from them?

pre-ice cream butternut cream

the sinner’s version

Not I. But it doesn’t just stop at butternut squash ice cream. On this blog, ice cream gets treated like a friend. Meaning, let’s why don’t we have a shot together. It’s been a long day. Now, I don’t generally drink rum but I had a feeling butternut would fare well with it. So I went down to the slipshod liquor store in my neighborhood, the one with the fiberglass between myself and the counterperson, and picked out a shot-sized bottle of the booze. Bacardi Gold. Oh, I had plenty of options there, too. I was tempted to try the Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, but wanting to see how the two flavors mingled together in their purest sense, I held back. In retrospect, I think that a spiced rum would be a nice match for this ice cream.

Unlike my previous Bourbon ice cream, though, the rum here isn’t the star of the flavor. With only a teaspoon per quart, it merely serves as that little je ne sais quois quotient, sort of like an extract. Nothing too crazy. Of course, you could always go without, especially if you don’t want to deal with liquor store and the whopping expense of $1.35 per ridiculous-sized bottle — I kid you not, $1.35. That’s better than juice in this town.

creamy, crunchy, creamy, crunchy, chewy! (the roasted squash pieces), creamy

To top it all off, I made myself one mean sundae, with roasted slices of butternut squash that were cooled and then tossed in sugar, and a quick hot caramel sauce that turned into toffee moments after being a liquid. How to make the caramel? Simple: heat up a tablespoon of butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet, on medium heat, with two tablespoons of sugar, and stir frequently a few minutes. The sugar will visibly melt and congeal with the butter to a caramel-brown state. Drizzle like crazy wherever you please. Then be sure to let your pan cool before you scrape off the candied bits.

Rum Butternut Squash Ice Cream
(makes about 1 quart)

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 egg
3 egg yolks
1 cup roasted, mashed and drained butternut squash (see below)
1 teaspoon light-tasting oil (such as canola)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon rum

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice butternut squash in half lengthwise. (Half of a small-medium butternut squash should yield around 1 cup when cooked.) Coat the flesh with oil, then place sliced-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 1 hour. Flip squash over and let cool a few moments before handling. Scoop out the flesh and place in a wide strainer over a bowl. Let sit while you prepare the custard.

Heat up milk, cream, sugars and spices in a saucepan. Meanwhile, gently beat the egg and yolks in a separate bowl. Once milk just begins to boil, remove from heat. Slowly pour one tablespoon of the milk mixture into the egg mixture while beating the eggs constantly. Repeat the same procedure with two more tablespoons, waiting a moment while stirring before after adding each spoonful. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture while stirring. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the custard has reached a point where it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Using a hand blender or masher, mash the squash to a smooth consistency, about 1 minute. Add to the custard, whisking to break up bits and incorporate evenly. Turn mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the machine’s directions. Let “ripen” in freezer for 2 hours before serving if desired, or serve immediately.

Cost Calculator
(for 1 quart of ice cream)

1 cup milk (at $2.99/gallon): $0.40
2 cups heavy cream: $2.99
1 cup cooked butternut squash (at $1/lb):$1.00
1 egg and 2 yolks (at $3/dozen): $0.50
3/4 cup sugar: $0.30
1/4 cup brown sugar: $0.20
cinnamon, nutmeg: $0.05
1 teaspoon rum (about 1/3 of a $1.35 bottle): $0.45

Total: $5.89

Health Factor

Seven brownie points: Considering the fact that this is a rich, no-holds-barred, custardy ice cream, let’s give shave ourselves off a few brownie points for making it somewhat vitamin-rich. Butternut squashes (having nothing to do naturally with either nuts or butter), are a low-calorie source of sweetness as well as Vitamins A, E and C. But let’s not get over our heads and classify ice cream a health food.

16 Responses

  1. OhioMom

    Oh that looks so good … must add an ice cream maker to my wish list 🙂

  2. JEP

    I found your blog vis Serious Eats 🙂 Want to spend some time reading your archives! I love butternut squash but thought about it being an ice cream ingredient!

  3. Sarah

    How delicious; I’m addicted to pumpkin frozen yoghurt and I imagine that this tastes ten times better. Thanks for the idea.

  4. Alanna

    Just wanted to let you know that your post is featured on BlogHer today! ~ AK

  5. Yvo

    Oh, yum!!!

  6. Bri

    Yum! What a delicious sounding recipe. I’m a big advocate of winter squash coming forward to be used in more ways than just pumpkin pie. Roasted, in soups, ice creams…oh the possibilities! The rum and caramel must pair perfectly.

  7. Mrs.W

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    If I get the train tomorrow, I can be there in as little as 5 hours…

  8. Gloria

    Yes! So happy to have found a simple recipe to use for our abundant “volunteer” butternut squash plants that are dropping us in the ‘teens number wise heavy, large vegetables here in New Mexico, USA. I get asked all the time what we do with them, eat them silly!

  9. […] Not Eating Out in New York » Rum Butternut Ice Cream (tags: recipe icecream food tomake) […]

  10. Glenda Ross

    May I have permission to reprint your recipe for Rum Butternut Ice Cream on pamphlets we will use as vendors at Farmers’ Markets in East Tennessee.

    Glenda Ross

  11. Jon

    Wonderful-looking recipe! Plan to try it tomorrow if I can gather what I need. I am wondering if perhaps the teaspoon of rum should be a tablespoon, since you refer to it as about a third of a $1.35 bottle of rum (presumably an “airplane” size) in your cost analysis. I wonder if anyone has tried this recipe with canned pureed squash or even frozen, and if that worked.

  12. Susie

    This summer a ton of butternut squash popped up in our garden–much to our surprise, since we didn’t even plant it (the seeds in the compost had their own ideas). I love quirky ice cream flavors and when we finished up our last batch my dad joked that I should make butternut squash due to our surplus of it out back. I didn’t expect anything to pop up in a search, but thank you so much for this awesome recipe! Now I don’t have to spend time making it up on my own and I know it’s going to be great!


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