Kabocha Squash (pumpkin) Ice Cream with Maple Toasted Pecans

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It has a beautiful colour, perfect texture and amazing flavor. The cranberry sauce creates the most pleasant contrast with the smooth and mild ice-cream, and the maple toasted pecans contribute the delicious finishing touch.  You need an ice-cream machine – makes 2 batches

1 small kabocha or red kuri squash, or pumpkin – cut in half and seeded
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 Tab shredded ginger
3/4 cup maple syrup or more to taste
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp xanthan gum – optional

for the cranberry sauce
2 cups cranberries
1 cup honey

for the pecans
large handful of pecans
maple syrup and grapeseed oil for drizzle
sea salt

To make the ice cream base
1. Turn the oven to 400 F (180 C). Place the squash halves cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes or until soft throughout. Let cool
2. Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan, add in ginger, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let infuse for 30 minutes.
3. Combine the squash flesh (I utilize the skin of red kabocha or red kuri squash as well, as it’s soft when baked. You’ll need a high-speed blender though, if using the skin), gingery coconut milk and the rest of ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
4. Chill well in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.

to make the cranberry sauce
1. Combine the cranberries and honey in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop open, for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and pulse in a blender or food processor to a chunky consistency.

to toast the pecans
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). In a bowl, drizzle pecans with maple syrup, grapeseed oil and a pinch of sea salt, mix to coat. Spread on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop.

to make the ice cream
1. Make sure that ice-cream base and cranberry sauce are well chilled. Churn the ice-cream base in your ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions ( I needed to do this amount in 2 batches, based on the size of my Cuisinart ice-cream machine).
2. Prepare a chilled container and scoop about 1/3 of the freshly made ice-cream into it, distributing into an even layer. Drizzle about a third of the cranberry sauce on top, followed by a third of the maple tossed pecans.
3. Continue to scoop another third of the ice-cream into the container, alternating with the cranberry sauce and pecans. If you do it in two batches, keep the ratios accordingly. Chill for at least 2 hours or longer before serving. When hardened completely, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before scooping.