I know what you're thinking: who's making ice cream when it's this cold out? But hear me out. The only thing more impressive than serving your own homemade pie during the holidays is topping it with a scoop of your own homemade ice cream. And much of the fruit that's at its best right now—citrus, cranberries, persimmons, and the like—make incredible ice cream and sorbet.
Here are ten of my favorite recipes for ice cream in sweater weather, a mix of creamy ice creams, punchy sherbets, and sorbets that preserve the full fresh flavor of the fruit that goes into them. Serve them as palate cleansers before dessert, scooped onto your favorite cake, or just treat them as your daily allotment of Vitamin C.
Apple Pie Ice Cream
What's better than apple pie? Apple pie as ice cream. In this recipe, a bunch of apples get cooked down into a concentrated apple butter, gently spiced with cinnamon, then cooked into a thick custard. Instead of chunks of pie crust (which get nubby and hard to eat when frozen), the "crust" of this pie is chunks of tea biscuits that replicate the taste and feel of pie crust softened by ice cream.
Kumquat Lemongrass Ice Cream
To tame the intensely sour bite of kumquats—those wee citrus fruits that seem to make any winter day feel brighter—there's nothing easier than candying them. Once you do, you may as well stir them into a custard infused with the herbal-citrus lilt of lemongrass. This ice cream is great with Chinese takeout—eaten curled up on the couch, of course.
Lemon Ice Cream
Lemons are available year-round, but winter is prime citrus time, and this tart-yet-creamy ice cream is as good as the best lemon meringue pie. Pucker up.
Fruitcake Ice Cream
Okay, so the fruit in this ice cream is dried, not fresh, and it's partially there to soak up a cup of dark rum, but I feel comfortable calling this recipe an improvement on the baked cake original. Dried cherries, apricots, ginger, and raisins play together with walnuts and pecans in a gently spiced custard that may give you a little buzz.
Sherbet—an ice cream/sorbet hybrid made with just a little dairy—is the world's most under-appreciated frozen dessert. Since it only has a small amount of flavor-dulling butterfat, the sherbet's base, often fruit, can really shine.
Blood Orange Sherbet
There's scoopable ice cream, and then there's so-soft-it-ripples-like-hot-fudge ice cream. This is the latter, so smooth and creamy you'll be surprised it wasn't made by a professional. The blood orange flavor—part berry, part citrus—comes through loud and clear.
Orange Buttermilk Sherbet
This spin on a creamsicle replaces plain old milk with twangy buttermilk for something a little more complex and interesting. A dash of orange zest adds a pleasant bitter bite to cut through all the sugar.
A plush, creamy sorbet full of honeyed sweetness that's cut by a touch of malty astringency. For best results, use acorn-shaped hachiya persimmons and let them ripen until their insides turn to jelly.
Grapefruit, Lime, and Tequila Sorbet
A warm weather cocktail—the Paloma—gets turned into a refreshing winter sorbet, using grassy tequila to tame grapefruit's bitterness. This may be the perfect winter palate cleanser.
Cranberry and Lillet Rouge Sorbet
The cranberry's tartness and high pectin content make it the perfect fruit for sorbet. In this recipe, sugar helps tame the berry's bite, but the real hero is Lillet Rouge, a bittersweet aromatized wine that adds a ton of complexity to this sorbet, including delicate notes of citrus.
Not sure what to do with extra clementines? Turn them into sorbet! Compared to orange and other citrus, clementine sorbet has a sweet vanilla flavor and a pronounced creaminess. It's really a dairy-free creamsicle.