The rose-colored hue of this custard-style Prickly Pear Ice Cream is striking, and its creamy flavor is at once unusual and delicious. This pretty pink custard ice cream features prickly pear pulp (either fresh or frozen), cinnamon stick, rum, and a creamy egg and half and half base. Whether you’re looking for a perfect Valentine’s Day treat for a loved one, a Mother’s Day dessert, or just a lovely finish to a special weekend meal, it’s definitely worth the effort!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – Prickly Pear Ice Cream Inspiration
In September, I posted How to Break Down Prickly Pears (including a video). It was followed by a prickly pear martini. I remember thinking at the time that the prickly pear pulp would make a gorgeous ice cream… don’t you love this pretty pink color? When I did the How to post, I had about 2 cups of pulp. The martini required only an ounce for 2 cocktails. Though I made them several times, I still had plenty for this ice cream.
First, it’s important to note that prickly pear fruit comes in a variety of colors: red, orange, purple, yellow. You will need red prickly pear pulp for this custard-style ice cream recipe.
Interested in foraging for prickly pears? See Urban Foraging: Prickly Pear for more information.
📋 Ingredients Notes
- prickly pear pulp – Sorry folks, I have not found a source for pre-made prickly pear pulp. I’m hoping you’re intrigued enough by this gorgeous ice cream to prepare some prickly pears. It’s pretty easy if you buy them at the market, and they’ve been de-spined. The post includes a “how to” video!
- half and half – I use half and half because that means I only have to buy one product. You can use half whole milk, and half heavy (or whipping) cream.
- cinnamon stick
- corn syrup – Corn syrup is my preferred sweetener for homemade ice cream. Corn syrup makes for a smoother, less icy ice cream. See For Smoother Ice Cream and Sorbet, Use Corn Syrup for the pros and cons of corn syrup. Glucose syrup and golden syrup/light treacle/inverted sugar syrup are the most similar substitutions. If you don’t have that on hand, make a simple syrup – 4 parts sugar to 1 part water. Honey and maple syrup are not good substitutions as they will mess with the flavor.
- eggs – Custard-style ice creams contain cooked eggs by definition. I grew up on custard-style ice creams, and that is always my preference like this pumpkin custard ice cream, this Mexican chocolate ice cream, this coconut tamarind ice cream.
- alcohol – This is an optional ingredient, but adding it improves scoopability. I use rum. I think bourbon would work well also.
- sea salt
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
- Steep the cinnamon – Add the cinnamon stick, corn syrup, and sea salt to the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently warm the mixture until it is hot but not boiling. This may take 15 minutes +/-. Stir often.
- Whisk the eggs – while the half and half heats, vigorously whisk the eggs.
- Temper the eggs – Ladle a small amount of the hot mixture into the bowl with the eggs, while constantly whisking. This small amount of hot liquid will raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking them. NOTE: This ensures that the eggs and hot liquid combine smoothly without curdling. Continue to add the hot liquid to the eggs until the mixture is quite warm. It usually requires about 1/3 of the hot cream.
- Cook the custard – Once you’ve brought the temperature of the egg mixture up, you can whisk the tempered eggs into the hot mixture. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
- Cool the custard base – Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature, before whisking in the prickly pear pulp, vanilla, and light rum.
- Finish the custard base – Whisk in the prickly pear pulp, vanilla, and light rum. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed. NOTE: I needed very firm ice cream for photos, so I took photos the next day. We often enjoy it soft-serve from the freezer!
NOTE: On photo day, I scooped my prickly pear ice cream from the freezer tub to a loaf pan, then pressed plastic wrap firmly against it. I stored it in the freezer over night because I was out of time to take photos. I finished the photos the next morning with lovely natural light. I put the frozen (solid) ice cream in the refrigerator for 15 minutes prior to scooping, and it was perfect!
I love these ice cream storage containers. However, I often scoop soft ice cream into a loaf pan after I freeze it to harden it. I press plastic up against the ice cream to prevent ice accumulation. Contact with air increases ice on the surface.
Most people keep their freezers at zero or below, and that is actually too low for scooping ice cream. The high fat content, and low volume of air in good quality ice cream makes it really hard to scoop.
A fruit that has begun ripening will have faded from green towards red in the area under the base of prickly pear.
The short answer is NO. While both corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are derived from corn, they are not the same thing. Karo corn syrup is likely to be found in the baking aisle, while HFCS is found on the labels of many (unhealthy?) foods.
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If you’ve ever pulled ice cream from the freezer only to find it far too hard to scoop, you know how frustrating this is. Since making homemade ice creams, frozen custards, sorbets, and sherbets requires an investment of your time, it is worth having some tools to deal with rock-hard ice cream! 3 Tricks for Softening Rock-Hard Ice Cream in a Hurry has great information.
Dip your ice cream scoop in cold water before each scoop. Ice cream is likely to stick to a dry scoop, but it will slide off of a wet scoop.
Whether you are intrigued by trying new ingredients (like me!), you enjoy foraging for food, or you find prickly pears interesting but intimidating, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have questions about prickly pears, leave them in the comment box below. I’ll do my best to provide an answer!
Prickly Pear Ice Cream
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- 3 cups half and half - or half whole milk and half heavy cream
- 1 long cinnamon stick - about 6"
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 large eggs - vigorously whisked
- 1 cup prickly pear pulp - see Ingredients Notes in post
- 2 tablespoons light rum
- Add the cinnamon stick, corn syrup, and sea salt to the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently warm the mixture until it is hot but not boiling.
- Vigorously whisk the eggs. Temper the eggs by ladling a small amount of the hot mixture into the bowl with the eggs, while constantly whisking (about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture.
- Whisk the tempered eggs into the hot mixture. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature, before whisking in the prickly pear pulp, vanilla, and light rum.
- Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.