I haven’t “done” Halloween in quite a while. It’s not because I’m a religious fanatic who thinks Halloween is some kind of devil worship (JesusWeen, anyone?). I don’t hate costumes; in fact, I think a lot of the ideas people come up with are pretty cool, and I’ve been trying to convince my husband to be Milk and Cookies with me for the past 3 years. And I’m clearly not one of those anti-candy nutbags who hands out apples and toothbrushes on Trick or Treat night (these people are also known as “assholes.”)
I just don’t see the point in it. I’m an adult. If I want to wear a costume, I’ll wear a costume. I’ll do my grocery shopping dressed as The Little Mermaid if I feel like it. If I want to drink to excess? Hey, liquor cabinet’s thataway. If I want to gorge myself on miniature Snickers bars and drift off into a peaceful diabetic coma, who’s going to stop me? (This is a real risk, though, guys. So someone please stop me from doing that.)
You know who can’t do that stuff? Kids. Stupid kids. Can’t even have candy without an adult getting it for them. Even if they do save up the measly allowance their parents might give them for folding laundry incorrectly or just, like, remembering to not poop on the floor, kids still aren’t allowed to buy a whole bag of candy and eat it in one sitting. What a bunch of powerless dummies. Kids, you need to find a leader and start a movement, yo.
I hope this child uprising doesn’t happen before I get to pop a few of my own out and boss them around and make them do my chores. And I’m totally going to eat their Halloween candy. “What? I bought you that costume, you little ingrate, and there is interest. Now leave all your Twix in an unmarked bag on the coffee table and get to bed.”
When I was ten, I decided I wanted to be “An Explorer” for Halloween. What does that even mean? All I know is, I ended up in head to foot khaki, wearing an Indiana Jones hat, with a map of the world drawn all over my visage in face paint crayons. Just like a real Explorer, which is totally an actual job that exists these days. By the end of the night, I had sweated the map off, in my candy-hoarding quest, and Europe was running into my eyes.
No, I celebrate fall in more adult ways, now. Like by making ice cream. With booze in it. Seriously, if I put bourbon into all the desserts I want to put it in, I would have to call this blog Sift & Whiskey.
I first tried Jeni’s Sweet Potato and Torched Marshmallows ice cream a couple years ago, and it was the most amazing thing ever to me. I haven’t had it since, because I am worried I won’t love it as much as I did that first night. But I decided to take it on in my own kitchen, because we had just dug up the gnarly-looking sweet potatoes from our backyard garden.
I used blackstrap molasses, whose flavor dominates in this ice cream, but if you are
weak not a fan, you can use regular molasses and it will be much more toned down. And I got my booze on by adding ¼ cup of Knob Creek bourbon to the mix. My blaspheming husband was like, “I like it, but I could do without the whiskey.” He’s wrong; I’m right. But really, you could totally omit the hooch and the ice cream will still be awesome.
You will have a lot of extra marshmallows, and you should be okay with that. Torch more of them on your baking sheet and eat them, or put them in hot cocoa, or try putting a couple into your glass of whiskey to see if that will make it taste sweet…. Whatever, I don’t have to tell you what to do with marshmallows. You’re an adult.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, divided
- ½ cup cold water
- 3 quarter-ounce packets (21 grams) granulated gelatin
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (245 grams) corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean*
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
- 3 tablespoons (43 grams) cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ cups (215 grams) ½-inch sweet potato cubes
- 2 cups (475 grams) whole milk
- 1¼ (290 grams) heavy cream
- ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (76 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons (45 grams) blackstrap (or regular) molasses
- ¼ cup bourbon whiskey (optional)
- Grease the sides and bottoms of a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. With the remaining vegetable oil, grease a piece of parchment paper that is roughly the same size as the baking sheet and set it aside. Pour ¼ cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let stand while you prepare the sugar syrup.
- In a medium saucepan, combine remaining ¼ cup water, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla bean seeds. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Insert a candy thermometer and bring to 236°F without stirring.
- Turn the mixer on low speed to break up the gelatin, and with the whisk still running, slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup. Try to avoid hitting the sides of the bowl and the top of the whisk. Gradually increase the mixer speed to medium and then high. Continue beating for about 10 minutes, until mixture is thick, white, and glossy and has cooled down somewhat.
- Working quickly, spread the mixture out onto your greased baking sheet using a rubber spatula. This will be very sticky and messy! Press the greased side of your parchment paper down on top of it and press to spread the marshmallow evenly across the baking sheet. Let stand for 1-2 hours, until cool and set up.
- Peel off parchment paper from the top of the marshmallow slab and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Carefully move marshmallow slab to a cutting board, sprinkle the other side with confectioners' sugar, and cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss the cubes in confectioner's sugar so they don't stick together.
- Arrange about 1½ cups of marshmallow cubes on a clean baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, brown the tops of the marshmallows. Let cool for a couple minutes, turn them over, and brown the other side.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese, salt, and cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Some of the cream cheese mixture will probably cling to the whisk; just leave the whisk in the bowl for now.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water and place in the refrigerator to keep it extra cold.
- In a large saucepan, combine sweet potato cubes and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so milk doesn't scorch on the bottom. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return to the saucepan and add heavy cream, both sugars, and molasses, stirring to combine. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes, stirring and scraping down the sides and bottom of the saucepan every now and then.
- Remove saucepan from heat, and gradually pour into cream cheese mixture while whisking with the other hand. When all of the cream mixture is added, continue whisking until smooth and there are no more chunks of cream cheese.
- Prop open a 1-gallon zip-top freezer bag in a mixing bowl, folding down the top to create a "cuff" that will protect the zipper from any stray liquid. Carefully pour the ice cream mixture into the bag, close it up, and submerge in your ice bath in the refrigerator. Allow to chill for 30 minutes. Add more ice to ice bath halfway through, if necessary.
- Remove bag from ice bath and, if adding whiskey, pour whiskey into the mixture, stirring to combine. With your ice cream maker** set up and ready to go, tilt the bag so that the liquid runs to one side, clip off a corner of the freezer bag (hold it with your finger so it doesn't fall into the mix!), and allow mixture to drain into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Follow your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions, and churn until thick and creamy. Mine took about 20-25 minutes.
- Pack ice cream into a storage container, layering with torched marshmallows. Press a sheet of parchment paper onto the surface and seal with a lid. Freeze until totally firm, about 4 hours.
- *You can substitute 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste OR 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- **This is the machine I use and love, but I do get commission if you buy it through this link!