A few weekends ago, my parents, sister, and I went off on our annual wine tasting trip to the Okanagan. I find mid-September — after Labour Day and before the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival — to be the best time to visit. The roads are quiet, there are no insane crowds, fruits and veggies are at their prime, and the fall sunshine is warm and golden. The place is beautiful.
This year, we focused on wineries on the Naramata bench. Tasting was, of course, our main focus, but I’d have to say that our most delightful stop was at Dream Acres, a small apple orchard beside Lake Breeze Winery. We were drawn to Dream Acres’ road side fruit and jam stand and the gala apple trees that were growing right next to it — it was the cutest set up and the trees were absolutely laden with apples. The owner just happened to be outside during our visit and invited us to pick some apples off his trees. Not the galas though, these are my grand kids’ trees and they’d kill me if I let you pick off them! He led us to his McIntosh grove instead, where we excitedly picked a couple dozen apples. They were truly the most amazing, juicy apples I have ever tasted, and just 30 cents a pound to boot!
The apples just begged to be made into pie, but since I’m not in the business of making pie, Apple Pie Ice Cream it is then — the first of several ice cream recipes celebrating the tastes of fall!
This recipe involves pan frying apples with some cinnamon, sugar, and other warming spices, and then churning the fruit into a luscious vanilla ice cream base. (I used the little McIntoshes, along with some Galas and Jonagolds I picked up in Keremeos on our way home.) Don’t be scared by the intensity of spices if you sneak a taste of the apples before churning it into the vanilla ice cream. When mixed together, the flavour mellows and you have a wonderfully balanced combination of sweet and spice. Think apple pie à la mode (sans pie crust, since I’ve never been a huge fan of crust). It’s a perfect dessert for those first days of fall.
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon Spiced Apples:
3 cups finely chopped apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of sea salt
For the Ice Cream:
- In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
- Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
- Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking. Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly. Stir in the vanilla.
- Chill overnight in the fridge.
For the Cinnamon Spiced Apples:
- While the ice cream is chilling, prepare the cinnamon spiced apples.
- Toss the apples with the lemon juice.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Add the apples, sugar, and spices. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, cool, and chill overnight in the fridge.
- Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- In the final stages of churning, add the cinnamon spiced apples and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.