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Pumpkin-Caramel Ice Cream Pie can be a new tradition

| Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 2:22 p.m.
Noel Barnhurst
Pumpkin-Caramel Ice Cream Pie.

We have traditional holiday dishes, yet, it's also fun to start new traditions with updates on classic dishes.

So, I came up with an ice cream dessert that has become as popular as my original pumpkin pie. Pumpkin-caramel ice cream pie is now required for our Thanksgiving dessert table. This pie can be made weeks ahead and frozen.

Pumpkin-Caramel Ice Cream Pie

For the crust:

2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

About 25 gingersnaps, ground into fine crumbs in a food processor (1 12 cups)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2 pints pumpkin ice cream

4 tablespoons chilled caramel sauce (see recipe, or use your favorite store brand)

16 pecan halves, for garnish

For the topping:

1 cup warm caramel sauce

To prepare the crust: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Tightly line a 9-inch pie plate (with 2-inch sides) with aluminum foil. In a medium-size bowl, mix the pecans and gingersnap crumbs. Add the butter and toss with the crumbs to blend well. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Chill until firm, for about 30 minutes. Bake for 6 minutes, or until just set. Let cool. Chill the crust in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and unmold the pie shell onto a flat surface. Carefully peel away the foil so the shell stays intact. Return it to the pie plate.

To prepare the filling: Soften the ice cream in a large bowl, and mix with a large spoon until thoroughly blended and no lumps remain. Spoon into the pie shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. With a teaspoon, dot the top of the pie with 4 tablespoons of the caramel. Use a skewer to make a swirl or other design, moving it back and forth about 12-inch deep into the ice cream. Arrange the pecans around the outside edge of the pie.

Freeze the pie for at least 2 hours. When it is frozen, cover tightly with foil. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into wedges. Serve with the warm caramel sauce.

Serves 8 to 10.

Caramel Sauce

Makes about 1 cup.

1 cup sugar

14 cup water

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar and water in a medium-heavy saucepan. Do not use a dark-colored pan. 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, for about 5 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully, as the caramel can burn easily. Remove the caramel from the heat and let it cool, making sure it is still liquid. Return the sauce to low heat and stir in the cream and vanilla, constantly stirring. The mixture may look separated, but continue to whisk it and it will become smooth.

Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 20 cookbooks, and also a James Beard award-winning radio-show host.

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