Indian Pudding Ice Cream

Happy November!

It’s fitting that my mom’s birthday falls in the same month as Thanksgiving; I’m so blessed to have her in my life. My mom is one of the friendliest, happiest, and kindest people I’ve ever known. She always goes out of her way for others, and my sisters and I use her birthday as an excuse to treat her like a queen.

My mom’s passion for New England history is well-known. She grew up in the Midwest but loved visiting extending family back in Massachusetts, relishing the autumn colors, colonial history, and local flavors. In fact, she convinced my dad to move to Massachusetts soon after they married. And to this day, my mom still gets excited when she sees clam chowder (“chowdah”), Boston baked beans, or hermit cookies. But there’s one hearty New England dish that she covets above all the rest: Indian Pudding.

You may not know what Indian Pudding is, as I rarely see it on menus outside of New England. But this dessert is older than the country itself. In the 17th century, the English settlers brought with them their love of English “hasty pudding” – a sweetened stovetop porridge made by boiling water or milk with wheat flour until it thickens. But since wheat flour was scarce, early colonialists substituted it for native corn meal (which they had nicknamed “Indian flour”), which they flavored with maple syrup or molasses. Over time, early recipes evolved to include additional ingredients like butter, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, and sometimes raisins or walnuts. Though the brown and lumpy porridge isn’t exactly visually-appealing, it’s the ultimate cold-weather comfort food.

One of my mom’s favorite places to enjoy Indian Pudding is at Rota-Spring Farm in Sterling, MA. Their Indian Pudding ice cream (reviewed here) is my family’s favorite flavor, and it’s what brings us back to Rota-Spring Farm time and time again. Last month, my mom delivered the terrible news that Rota won’t be making this amazing flavor anymore. Apparently, their distributor has stopped carrying the base for this flavor. Instead of just creating the base in-house, Rota-Spring Farm told my mom that they’d be pulling Indian Pudding off their menu. My mom was really disappointed, so my sister Carolyn and I immediately began talks of creating our own Indian Pudding ice cream.

A couple weeks ago, we had our chance to try out a recipe. Carolyn was visiting me in DC, and we put our heads together to develop and try out a recipe. There are dozens of recipes for Indian Pudding online, but Google yielded just two for ice-cream versions. Using one for inspiration, Carolyn and I spent Saturday morning cooking the Indian-Pudding base. We first spread cornmeal on a baking sheet, toasting it to a golden brown. After, we boiled milk and cream with molasses on the stovetop before adding egg yokes, sugar and spices. After the mixture reached 185 degrees Fahrenheit (to ensure we wouldn’t get sick from raw egg yolks), we mixed in the cornmeal and left the porridge in the refrigerator overnight.

Carolyn and I are fans of mix-ins in our Indian Pudding, so we decided to add a popular one, raisins, to our ice cream. I’ve learned from experience that raisins freeze into rock-hard nuggets in ice cream, but soaking them in alcohol will keep the raisins soft. We chose dark rum and soaked the raisins for over an hour on Sunday morning. We then pulled the fully-cooled base from the fridge. After a quick whirl in the blender to get rid of any grittiness, we poured the mixture into the ice-cream machine. Right before the ice cream was done, we poured the raisins in. The result looked exactly like frozen Indian Pudding!

Indian Pudding Ice Cream with Rum Raisins
{Makes 1.5 quarts}
Adapted from this recipe


  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup light cream
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup molasses 
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup raisins


  • The day before you’d like to eat this ice cream, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spread the cornmeal out on a baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown (about 12 minutes). Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, milk and molasses to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk until pale. 
  • Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the entire time (my sister helped with this part). Then return mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until it’s thickened and reached 185 degrees Fahrenheit (about 7 minutes).
  • Turn off heat, remove saucepan from heat and transfer mixture to the large bowl. Stir in the toasted cornmeal, cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours). When you do this, pour the raisins in a small bowl and cover with rum. Cover and keep on countertop or in the fridge.
  • The next day, pour chilled mixture into blender and blend on high setting for about 30 seconds. 
  • Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a Cuisinart, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing churn for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, strain extra rum from the raisins. A few minutes before the ice cream is finished churning, add the rum-soaked raisins.
  • Serve immediately or, if a firmer consistency is desired, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.
The verdict? Dare I say this ice cream is even more delicious than the one at Rota Springs? Because this is one of the best ice creams I’ve ever made… or even tasted. It’s silky, sweet and rich. The dark molasses and cornmeal are in perfect balance, married by the warm fall-inspired spices. The flavor is reminiscent of gingerbread, but more humble and comforting with the cornmeal aftertaste. The rum-soaked raisins adds an fancy twist to this classic colonial fare. While this ice cream was cold, each spoonful warmed my heart. This recipe may require some patience, but I promise you that it’s worth it.

Happy birthday, mom! Here’s to many more. 

Campfire-Less S’Mores Ice Cream

August is nearing its end… and with it goes any hope of going camping this year.

I spent a lot of time outdoors this summer – tubing, biking, swimming, walking, and simply relaxing. But growing up, every summer included at least one family camping trip. So it seems strange to let a summer go by without setting up a tent, chatting around a big campfire, and waking up in a sleeping bag. But most importantly, I can’t bear the thought of a s’mores-less summer. The horror!

Since I can’t go to the s’mores, I figured I’d bring the s’mores to me. And thus a new ice-cream recipe was born…

Did you know that you can “roast” marshmallows using your oven’s broiler? I’d never tried this trick before, but it works surprisingly. The trick is to watch them like a hawk to avoid burning them and setting off your apartment’s fire alarm.

This recipe is perfect for city dwellers like me, who dream about eating campfire s’mores under the stars while we sit in our tiny urban apartments.

Campfire-Less S’Mores Ice Cream
{Makes 1.5 quarts}


  • 2 cups while milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 cups mini marshmallows (or ~10 regular-sized marshmallows)
  • 1.5 regular-sized Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped graham cracker pieces (for gluten free, I followed this recipe)


  • Combine the milk, cream and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Turn off heat, remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Transfer mixture to a large metal or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate until mixture is cold (about 1-2 hours).
  • Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a Cuisinart, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing churn for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, position oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat broiler (if you have the option, turn broiler on “low”). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and mist with cooking spray. Arrange marshmallows on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Broil the marshmallows, watching carefully (I kept oven door ajar), until the marshmallows are golden brown (took about 1 minute). Remove marshmallows and set aside.
  • Five minutes before mixing is completed, gradually add bits of the toasted marshmallows through the top of the ice-cream maker (this part can be a bit messy – but that’s part of the fun!). Once mixed, add the chopped chocolate and graham crackers, one spoonful at a time. Let everything mix into the ice cream.
  • Serve immediately or if a firmer consistency is desired, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.

The verdict? This ice cream totally satisfies my s’mores craving. The vanilla ice-cream base is nothing special, but it’s mild flavor allowed the flavors of toasted marshmallows, Hershey’s milk chocolate, and graham crackers to take center stage. This recipe is definitely on the sweeter side of the ice-cream sugar spectrum, but isn’t that the point of s’mores? Now, I must warn you that this recipe is heavy-handed with the mix-ins. This was a conscious choice on my part – but if super-chunky ice creams aren’t your thing, simply scale back the on the amount of mix-ins you add. But I adored how the slightly-chewy marshmallows, nutty graham cracker crunch, and classic Hershey’s milk chocolate taste made it into every spoonful. And while I might not be sleeping in a tent tonight, I’ll definitely go to bed with that familiar feeling of fullness and nostalgia.

Banana Flambé Ice Cream

Does your family have any funny shared memories? The types that cause everyone to burst out laughing, even years later?

My family has a lot of funny memories. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re funny, or we can embarrass ourselves quite often… One of my favorite ones took place in Washington, DC before I started graduate school. My family helped me move, and we went out to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. We were stuffed after a delicious meal, but my Dad’s prix fixe dinner included dessert. He almost passed on it, but we all offered to take “a bite” of the famous banana flambé. This dessert entails quite a show; our server rolled a cart and proceeded to cook the flambé right next to our table. She heated butter and brown sugar until it caramelized, then added two bananas and doused everything in flaming cognac. We all clapped as she tipped the bananas into a dish and added two massive scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Something about the show made us forget how full we were, because the five of us attacked that flambé. That warm, sticky banana and rich ice cream didn’t stand a chance. As we were scraping the last bits of brown sugar goop from the bowl, my sister Ava got up to use the restroom. And as the rest of us were finally putting down our spoons, a different server came to the table carrying another banana flambé! He explained that our server felt she had “messed the first one up” and redid the flambé. Say what? The first flambé was a masterpiece! But before we could argue, the man plopped down the second flambé and walked away. Well, letting this dessert go to waste would have been a travesty. So we picked up our spoons and dug in. When Ava returned from the bathroom, the shocked look on her face was priceless. She was obviously judging us, yet it did not stop her from picking up a spoon and joining! I’ll admit, even I was surprised when we polished off that second enormous dessert. To this day, whenever someone brings up banana flambé, the five of us burst out laughing – both embarrassed and proud at the same time.

I’ve been wanting to incorporate banana flambé into ice cream for some time now. The opportunity arose last week, while I was working remotely from my parent’s house. It was nearly 90 degrees out, the AC units haven’t been installed yet, and I spied a bunch of ripe bananas in the kitchen. A quick internet search for “banana flambé ice cream” resulted in recipes for banana flambé with ice cream but none for banana flambé-flavored ice cream. Undeterred, I set about developing my own concoction.

My recipe ended up being pretty simple. First, I made a banana flambé puree by baking banana slices in a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, a smidge of butter, and a dash of dark rum. I could have used the stove top, but I personally prefer baking over sauteing (I burn myself way too often for someone in her late 20s). 

After pulling the bananas out of the oven, I added a squeeze of lemon (to prevent any gross-looking browning) and mashed everything lightly with a fork before covering the dish and popping it into the fridge. The next day, I scraped the cold banana flambé into the blender and added some milk, lemon juice, salt, and vanilla. After blending everything for less than a minute, I poured the base into my mother’s Cuisinart ice-cream maker (identical to mine) and pressed “on.” When I came back 20 minutes later, the ice cream was done!

Banana Flambé Ice Cream
{Makes 1 quart}


  • 3 large bananas (the riper the better) 
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into little pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice (just a squeeze)
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel bananas and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum. Distribute butter pieces evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, basting once or twice during cooking.
  • Transfer baked banana mixture to a large bowl, add squeeze of lemon juice (to prevent browning), and mash everything lightly with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (I chilled overnight).
  • Scrape chilled banana mixture into blender and add milk, white sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a Cuisinart, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing alone for 15 minutes or so.
  • For best results, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.
Ice cream for three.

The verdict? I figured banana flambé ice cream would be good, but I didn’t anticipate just how amazing this recipe would be. Roasting the bananas helped to break them down, and the brown sugar and rum glaze resulted in a deep, caramelized flavor that I adored. The rum flavor wasn’t strong, so if you love rum – you could add more. Opting to use whole milk instead of cream was risky, but the recipe turned out to be creamy and not at all icy. Perhaps that is due to the high banana-to-milk ratio? I enjoyed my serving in a gluten-free cone, while my parents opted for bowls. My mom raved about the intense flavor, but my banana-loving dad thought it was almost too intense (what a wimp!). He ended up “cutting” my ice cream with a scoop of plain ol’ store-bought vanilla. But my ouce cream motto is “go big or go home!” I savored every bite of my cone, and I ended up polishing off the rest of the banana flambé ice cream within 24 hours. What can I say? It’s a family thing 😉

Crowd-Pleasing Nutella Gelato

What’s your signature recipe? You know – that crowd-pleaser that your friends and family (not-so-secretly) hope you’re bringing to the next potluck or party? For my sister, it’s her amazing chili. For my mom, it’s her lemon meringue pie. Just last night, my dear friends Anna and Meg came over for dinner. And you better believe I was thinking of Anna’s Special K bars when I put her in charge of dessert. Despite her grueling schedule as a first-year resident, Anna somehow found time to whip up a batch of her signature baked goods. She even left the extra ones with me. These bars are like crack. Seriously. I may or may not have downed one before 8:00 AM this morning…

Speaking of crack, let’s discuss Nutella. Specifically, Nutella gelato.

I was late to the Nutella craze. Growing up, we had peanut butter, Fluff, and Vegemite in the pantry – but no Nutella. I don’t think I’d ever tasted it until my senior year of high school, on a week-long trip to Spain with my AP Spanish class. My usual peanut butter was absent from the hotel’s breakfast buffet, so I had to “settle” and spread Nutella on my toast. It was love at first bite, and the rest is history.

Today, Nutella gelato is my signature recipe. It was the first thing I created in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. I consulted a variety of Nutella ice cream and gelato recipes but ultimately decided to create my own version. After reading an article about how dark coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate, I decided to incorporate the Starbucks VIA we always have on hand into the recipe. It was a risky move, but I’ve come back to this recipe time and time again. It’s the quintessential crowd-pleaser. It keeps my family and friends (even the normal chocolate-haters) licking their bowls and asking for more. When my college roommate invited me to a dinner party this weekend, she “jokingly” hinted that I was required to bring Nutella gelato. She laughed, but I could almost hear a threat being implied. The claws come out around this stuff, my friends.

Bring this gelato to a dinner party, and it will become your signature dish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉

Nutella Gelato 
{Makes 1.5 quarts}


  • 2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/2 cup white cane sugar
  • 1 packet Starbucks VIA (Italian Roast/Colombia) OR 3 tsp. instant coffee
  • 1 jar of Nutella (13oz.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


  • Combine the milk, cream, sugar and VIA in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking from time to time, until it almost reaches a simmer.
  • Turn off heat, remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the salt, vanilla extract and Nutella. Continue to whisk until Nutella is completely melted.
  • Transfer mixture to large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  • Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a Cuisinart, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing alone for 15 minutes or so. The consistency should be firm but not icy.
  • Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm (about 2 hours in my case, but a taxi drive and too much time on the counter left our gelato a bit too soft).

Didn’t let it freeze long enough, but this was delicious gelato soup 😉

The verdict?  Nutella gelato never disappoints. Even when someone waits until 4PM to start making it for a 7:30PM dinner (who could that be?), this gelato is heavenly. The recipe uses a full jar of Nutella, and the flavor is wonderfully intense. But it’s not as sugary-sweet as one may expect; the bold Starbucks VIA brew adds depth to the Nutella flavor without adding an overt coffee taste. The gelato never gets quite firm enough in the Cuisinart for me, so I normally pop it into freezer for a couple hours before serving. But this gelato is ah-mazing in any form – even melted from the cab drive over to a friend’s house. The only problem is that there’s never any leftovers…

Pumpkin Spice Gelato

Eating pumpkin makes me feel grown up.

As a kid, I didn’t care for pumpkin at all. On Thanksgiving, I’d skip over the pumpkin pie and pile my plate with cake and cookies instead. Something about vegetable-esque desserts just didn’t jive with me, and pumpkin pie never held any appeal. That is – until I caught my mom eating leftover pumpkin pie… for breakfast. I had to be seven or eight years old when I discovered her little secret. On the morning after Thanksgiving, I trudged into the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of Cheerios. My parents upheld a strict “no junk food”  breakfast policy. And there my mom was – in her pajamas – eating a slice of pie. “That’s not fair!” I sputtered, “Why can you eat dessert for breakfast but we can’t?” Always the quick thinker, my mom calmly countered that I was welcome to join her. She explained that pumpkin is healthy and full of fiber, and that pumpkin pie was an appropriate breakfast “once in a while.” You better believe that I sat right down and served myself a slice of pie – the very one I had turned my nose up at the day before. And low and behold, I liked it. Sure, it didn’t compare to chocolate cake or sugar cookies,  but it was a heck-of-a-lot better than my normal cereal. I felt quite grown-up that morning, enjoying a special breakfast with my mom.

Over the years, I’ve become a full-fledged pumpkin fan. When October rolls around, I suddenly become obsessed with anything pumpkin: pumpkin beer, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin risotto, and – of course – pumpkin ice cream.

Last week, when my sister Carolyn was here, we hosted a small dinner party for the premiere of Homeland (our favorite TV show). Carolyn was making her famous chili, so I was put in charge of dessert. And – surprise! – pumpkin was on my mind. I had yet to experiment with it in my Cuisinart, so I scoured the internet for pumpkin ice cream recipes. There is certainly not a shortage of recipes out there, but most called for 4-6 egg yokes. I’m a novice when it comes to making ice cream, and I don’t feel ready to tackle so many raw egg yokes. Luckily, I stumbled across an egg-less recipe to use as inspiration for my own concoction: Pumpkin Spice Gelato.

Pumpkin Spice Gelato 
{Inspired from recipe in New York Times}


  • 2 cups milk (at least 1% milkfat)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (100%; not the pie filling kind)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • Combine the milk, heavy cream, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking from time to time, until it almost reaches a simmer. Reduce to very low heat.
  • Place the maple syrup, salt, and remaining brown sugar in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk/cream mixture, whisking as you pour.
  • Return the maple mixture to the saucepan and increase the heat slightly (just below medium). Continue cooking until the mixture just begins to thicken. Do not allow it to boil.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla extract. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  • Pour chilled mixture into a blender and pulse to liquefy any solids. Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker, per the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a Cuisinart, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing be for 15 minutes or so. The consistency should be like firm but not icy.
  • Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm (about 2 hours in my case). Looks best when topped with a candy corn pumpkin 🙂

The verdict? Not too bad for my first try! This gelato was a little less sweet than most pumpkin ice creams, but I think that’s why this tasted more like real pumpkin pie. The consistency was a bit grainy, which I didn’t mind. If grittiness isn’t your thing, I suggest using a strainer – rather than a blender – to get rid of solids before adding the mixture to the ice cream maker. My guests reported that the spice level was good, but I thought the cinnamon overpowered the nutmeg. Next time I’ll just use more pumpkin spice and reduce the extra cinnamon amount. All in all, this recipe was a keeper. I can’t help but wonder… Will mom approve this for breakfast on November 23rd?

Choco-Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan, GF)

I can’t cook. Correction: I won’t cook. Most recipes test my patience. The chopping, dicing, sauteing, roasting – it’s not my cup of tea. Since I live alone during the week, it’s easy to skirt around meal-making responsibilities. I keep my dinners healthy but quick: salads, tacos, omelets, organic frozen meals, sandwiches, or (when I’m feeling ambitious) homemade pizza. Using pre-made dough, of course.

There is one exception to my general recipe aversion… Since I bought my first ice cream maker last fall, I’ve been whipping up a variety of interesting frozen concoctions. For the first time in my life, I’m loving the challenge of involved, multi-step recipes. Having to cook the ice cream base and chill it overnight(!) before churning anything? Not a problem. I’ve got endless patience when it comes to ice cream making. What’s behind this drastic surge of confidence in the kitchen? I’m not entirely sure, but it may have to do with how excited I get just thinking about a recipe’s final result. A good bowl of ice cream is worth some legwork.

This week, I invited my good friend Anna over for dinner. You better believe that dessert was planned before the dinner was. Since my mom recently developed a lactose intolerance, I’ve had my eye out for lactose-free ice cream. After reading a recipe using coconut milk in the latest O Magazine, I decided to give coconut milk ice cream a shot.

Like I often do, I modified the original recipe a bit. The result was what I call “Choco-Coconut Ice Cream” – a rich chocolaty, coconutty ice cream with vegan chocolate chips mixed in. I was happy with the fruits of my labor – and so was Anna!

Choco-Coconut Ice Cream (Vegan)
{Adapted from recipe in O, the Oprah Magazine}


  • 1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 (13.5oz) can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)


  • Combine all ingredients (besides the optional chocolate chips) in a blender (or, if you’re blessed with adult kitchen tools, a large food processor). Blend until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into a container and cover. Refrigerate mixture until chilled through (minimum 1 hour, maximum overnight).
  • Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker, per the manufacturer’s directions. For Cuisnart folks like me, this means 1) turn on your machine, 2) slowly pour mixture in, and 3) leave the thing be for 15 minutes or so. The consistency should be like gelato or softserve – firm but not icy.
  • (Optional) Pull out ice cream mixer attachment, add chocolate chips, and gently fold chips into ice cream using a wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.
  • Serve immediately (if you’re cool with soft ice cream) or transfer to airtight container (i.e. Tupperware) and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.