It’s been a while but I’m back and I have completed my favourite bake yet! If you’re wondering why it’s my favourite it’s because this one involves my first love – after chocolate of course – ice cream! Doesn’t everyone love this delicious treat that can only be described as heavenly? But this recipe didn’t only give me ice cream, oh no, it also gave me wonderful chocolate biscuits! Although Ottolenghi describes this recipe as ‘an ice cream sandwich for grownups’ due to the flavour provided by the saffron (which is not only an acquired taste it’s also bloody expensive meaning it shall not and will not be wasted on children) I still loved it and really enjoyed how the saffron, almonds and chocolate biscuits really complemented each other!
The first step in this recipe is to make the biscuits, starting off by baking the almonds for 8 minutes, allowing them to cool and then blitzing in a food processor to roughly 0.5cm pieces and then set aside until needed. Baking the almonds came as no challenge for me although I expanded the time to 10 minutes as they weren’t quite brown enough nor smelt strong enough so I thought the extra couple of minutes would be good. Once out of the oven I only waited about 2 minutes for them to cool which, with hindsight may have been the wrong thing to do as when I blitzed them many became finer than I would have liked and others remained in large pieces (although I did use a nutribullet instead of a food processor which is also a mistake). I do remember thinking, ‘well why don’t I just chop them myself it’ll probably be more accurate and easier,’ but I decided not to, looking back at it now it definitely would have been the better choice.
The next step is to line two baking trays with parchment paper, which was obviously very easy, although I would like to share a tip I was very surprised a lot of people don’t know, whenever you use parchment (greaseproof) paper always use butter to help yourself later, as the butter causes the paper to stick down onto the tray or tin making it easier to work with!
After that, I sifted the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together into a bowl and set aside. Following that I beat together the butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes until pale, I then added the vanilla extract. Once the vanilla was incorporated I alternated, adding a third of the flour and half of the milk, finishing with the flour and mixing until just combined which formed a chocolatey dough (and a yummy one at that)!
Once the dough had formed I transferred it onto a lightly floured surface, kneaded until smooth and then divided into two and set one half aside. I rolled out the dough to around 3mm thick and then used an 8cm round cookie cutter to cut out discs, (and the cookie cutter was conveniently brought over by my dad when I asked him to bring over some of my baking equipment from home, admittedly the bag of cookie cutters he brought over was practically the only thing that wasn’t on the list but at this moment I was very thankful for them)! Cutting out the disks was quite a task due to the thin and relatively sticky dough, it took me quite a lot of tries to get out a biscuit that hadn’t torn, but in the end, I successfully churned out 30 biscuits – plus a couple of extra heart shaped ones! I then placed them in the freezer for 20 minutes, which caused me to take out two of the freezer drawers and pace them on the kitchen floor, but luckily it wasn’t a hot day!
Then, once the biscuits had hardened I put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes until firm on the outside and a little soft in the centre, I then placed them on a wire rack to cool and then placed them in an airtight container.
Now the biscuits were finished it was time to make the ice cream! For the ice cream, I placed the eggs yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisked to combine them and set aside. Afterwards, I put the milk, cream, vanilla seeds and pod (side note: you wouldn’t believe how unbelievably expensive vanilla pods are in Paris, I think I paid 8€ for 1 pod!) The vanilla seeds were rather fiddly as they’re sticky and very small so I handled them using the blade of a knife. I added all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan along with the saffron and placed over a medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. Once the milk mixture was hot I poured half into the yolk mixture whisking constantly until smooth then poured all of the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
Once I’d heated the mixture for 8-10 minutes while stirring constantly I removed it from the heat, discarded the vanilla pod and transferred the mixture into a bowl and set over an ice bath. I then poured my ice cream into a tart case as I thought I could cut out circles of ice cream using a cookie cutter then place it between the two biscuits. Also, I added more saffron as I wanted to add a stronger saffron flavour, I then placed it in the freezer to start the churring process as I don’t own an ice cream maker.
Churning ice cream by hand is meant for people with the patience of a saint as waiting around hour after hour until the ice cream is ready is very drab. In the end, I left the ice cream overnight just for it to firm up and become the right consistency.
The next day when I woke up I went straight to cooking, the ice cream was now perfectly frozen and luckily without any ice crystals! It was now time to assemble!
I started off by putting a breadboard in the freezer for the finished sandwiches to go as soon as they are assembled. I put the ice cream into a shallow bowl and weighed out 50g of ice cream onto every two biscuits and squashed one the top. This was actually very difficult to do so as the ice cream would start to melt or be a bit too stiff for the thin biscuit, but in the end, I whisked the ice cream until it became a soft butter like consistency which made it easier to handle. To clean up the centre I used the tip of a teaspoon and spun the sandwich round until it was relatively smooth.
Lastly, I placed them in the freezer in order for them to stop melting and then coated the sides with the “chopped” almonds from the first step and, voila, I was done!
All in all, I really enjoyed making these ice cream sandwiches, admittedly they don’t look amazing but given the reactions I received from the people who ate these their appearance really didn’t seem to matter especially as many of them were gone in just a matter of hours! I definitely think I’ll make these again especially given the fantastic weather we’re being blessed with currently (touch wood)!!
5 recipes down 108 to go!