Sometimes you need to just meditate over a complicated recipe. For no real reason other than to say you did it. Because this was a long weekend, I decided that I was going to make chicken, collard greens and sweet corn with lime butter from scratch. My husband said I was “doing too much”, through mouthfuls of collards. But I explained to him that I love cooking. There’s something about the process that relaxes me. After I was done with the dinner, I decided to attempt something a little more difficult: ice cream sandwiches.

My friend Jen was telling me about this crack-like, addictive ice cream from Trader Joes: Lemon Ice cream with gingersnaps in it. She calls it the “literal creamy crack”. So I started looking online for recipes. I found this one from Bon Appetit. Now those of you who know me know that I have a million kitchen utensils and gadgets, and yes, I have an ice cream maker. This recipe is one of those that takes you all day, and you love the result, but you’re going to freeze those little suckers because doing this again anytime soon is not likely. Kind of like making ricotta cheese. Amazing process, but I can’t do that very often. The result of these ice cream sandwiches was amazingly yummy, and perfect for one of the last days of summer.

You will need:

Lemon Ice Cream (or buy your favorite lemon ice cream):
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • Zest stripped from 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Gingersnaps:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses

Directions:

To make the ice cream:

1. Combine the milk, cream, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a heavy saucepan.

2. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until almost simmering.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt in a bowl.

4. Slowly pour some hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking as you pour.

Note: This “tempers” the eggs — it gradually brings up the temperature of the eggs so they don’t scramble when you put them back in the pan.

5. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook, over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant plastic or a wooden spatula, until the custard reaches 175°F and lightly coats the spatula.

Note: It is really important that you use a thermometer to make sure the eggs are the right temperature to ensure they are safe to eat. My husband, whom you know is a germaphobe, would freak out if he knew that I were in charge of making sure eggs are not raw. I left this step out when explaining the process of making ice cream to him…Trust me, it’s better that way.

6. Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool over an ice bath until room temperature. Stir in the lemon juice.

Note: I used all of the juice from the 2 lemons I zested. No need to waste them. Or you could make them into strawberry lemonade. Up to you.

7. Refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until scoopable, about 4 hours, depending on your freezer.

Note: The ice cream maker did nothing for me. Honestly, it churned it up a little bit, but I had to freeze the ice cream in the freezer to really get it where I wanted it.

To make the cookies:

1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, and allspice. Stir in the salt.

2. Beat the butter, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and the brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in the egg. Mix in the molasses. Stir in the dry ingredients in 2 additions. Refrigerate the dough until very firm, at least 3 hours.

3. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 4 days. When firm, roll the dough on a lightly sugared work surface into two 9-inch-long logs.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking pans with parchment paper.

5. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. There should be at least 24 cookies. Put the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a bowl. Coat the cookies with the sugar. Place the cookies 2 1/2 inches apart on the prepared pans.

6. Bake the cookies until set and no longer wet looking, 10 to 12 minutes. They will be puffy when you take them out of the oven and will sink as they cool.

To assemble the sandwiches:

Place 12 of the cookies, bottom side up, on the work surface. Place a large scoop of ice cream on each. Top with a second cookie, bottom side against the ice cream, and gently press to adhere the sandwiches together. Serve immediately, or freeze until ready to serve. Once frozen, wrap well in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container.

Left: Pic from Bon Appetit. Right: The real deal.

I want to bring your expectations down a little bit, and call out food styling fiction. The picture that goes along with this recipe is perfect. It seems the baker even had time to put a little ribbon around each cookie. Super cute. Um yeah, in real life, food is not perfect, and working with ice cream means stuff melting all over your fingers before you have time to stick that damn square thing over your cookie. My gingersnaps were a little lopsided, my ice cream wasn’t perfectly scoopable, and they weren’t the most beautiful things in the world. But they were damn good. If you can’t deal with imperfection, think about cutting up the gingersnaps and putting them into the lemon ice cream before you put it in the ice cream maker. Just as good and not as messy.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

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