Sweet of the Week: Kabocha Squash Soft-serve at Yusho

I've opined before about my ceaseless lust for ice cream, even when the temperatures dip into wintry conditions and people turn to hot chocolate in lieu of chilled custard. But lo, there are ways to stretch ice cream into a year round delight, and that's by enriching it with bold, hearty flavors rich with spice, tart fruits, and brown butter. Case in point, the kabocha soft-serve currently being doled out at Yusho. The ever-crafty Japanese restaurant in Avondale never fails to wow every step of the way across its thoughtful menu. While skewers and buns get a lot of the glory here, don't skim past the soft-serve, a perpetual homerun thanks to seasonal infusions like this one. 

(Kabocha soft-serve at Yusho)

Kudos to Yusho for eschewing pumpkin when it came time to cook up a gourd-inspired dessert. In this case, they use kabocha squash, a deserving root vegetable rife with rich, meaty character and a touch of sweetness a la butternut squash, it's more popular cousin. Here, the squash works well in soft-serve form, swirled into a cinnamon-y bowlful of autumnal Nirvana. The root veg tempers the sweetness inherent in the ice cream, and together they are ripe for sprinkling with tart cranberries, apple morsels, brown butter, and crispy, cakey croutons that taste like molasses-y Boston brown bread. All in all, the balance between savory and sweet helps lift this ice cream out of the annals of cold-weather dessert taboo and right into the forefront of the dessert menu where it belongs. 

- Matt Kirouac