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You know the story. You pluck some cider doughnuts from the farmers market, crisp and burnished, all apple and cinnamon. You hold on a few hours before giving in to your prize. Expecting—no—knowing that these will be the cider doughnuts to defeat all others. How could that sweet aroma lie?
And then you take a bite. Stale. The apple cider rush? More like cideresque. Let's face it, cider doughnuts have a lifespan that makes mayflies look ancient. Miss that window and you're chomping down on a cinnamon sponge.
But hope isn't lost. Just as stale bread can be rescued (if not improved) by custard in bread pudding, doughnuts can live a second life suspended in ice cream. So here is a second chance dessert, one that doesn't betray its leftovers foundations or desperate motivations. When you reduce apple cider to a syrup, it becomes as tart as sweet. That gets balanced nicely by a cream-forward custard, rich and soft and not too assertive. Ground mace gives the instant taste of an old fashioned doughnut, bringing ice cream and cider doughnut together as one.
This is the ice cream for your rainy autumn afternoons: sweet, gentle, and hauntingly apple. It pairs best with moody novels, oversized sweaters, and cups of tea to ward off the chill.
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About the author: Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries. You can follow his exotic spice- and ice cream-based ramblings on Twitter.