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Today: An incredibly tender ice cream sandwich proves that olive oil and chocolate are forever the perfect pair.
The key to homemade ice cream sandwiches is choosing the right cookie. I know that sounds kind of backwards, but hear me out.
A lot of people like to make ice cream sandwiches with their favorite chocolate chip cookies, but those cookies usually freeze too hard to make enjoyable sandwiches. You want a cookie that stays soft and chewy, even when frozen -- the kind of cookie you can easily sink your teeth into, so all of the ice cream inside doesn’t squeeze out of the sides and end up all over your face (or your lap) when you take a bite. I bet a lot of you know what I'm talking about here.
I think cookies with the texture of brownies tend to work best for ice cream sandwiches; so for this recipe, I started with my very favorite cookie in that category: Chad Robertson’s Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies from Tartine No.3. I knew these salty chocolate gems would taste great with just about any ice cream, but I wanted to make these sandwiches a little -- just a little! -- refined. So I filled them with Amanda’s Olive Oil Gelato, which I have made and enjoyed many times.
More: Read Chad Robertson's five essential tips for baking bread and working with ancient grains.
This gelato has a mild olive oil flavor that pairs wonderfully with chocolate, and the texture is perfectly creamy and soft, even straight from the freezer. The only thing that this ice cream sandwich situation was missing was a bit of texture, so I added a couple tablespoons of cacao nibs to the gelato; their crunch and deep chocolate flavor were the perfect addition. Along with the nibs, the sprinkling of salt on the cookies helps to keep these sandwiches from venturing into cloyingly sweet territory.
Makes 10 sandwiches
For the olive oil gelato with cacao nibs:
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons water
3/4 cup milk
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
Whisk the sugar, water, milk, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. While the mixture is heating on the stove, whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl.
When the milk mixture has come to a gentle simmer, slowly stream it into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to 185º F. Be careful not to let the mixture boil; this will scramble the eggs and ruin the base.
Remove the custard from the heat and let it cool completely. When you are ready to churn the ice cream, whisk in the olive oil. The mixture will be thick and glossy. Churn the custard in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions, adding the cacao nibs just before the ice cream is finished spinning. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze until it's firm, 4 hours or overnight.
For the salted chocolate rye cookies:
1/2 pound chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons dark rye flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup muscovado or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Flaky salt, such as Maldon or Jacobsen, for sprinkling
Melt the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler. Stir it occasionally until the mixture is completely smooth, then remove it from the heat and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the cookies.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Slowly add in the sugar and beat until the mixture is light in color and the eggs have tripled in volume.
Stir in the vanilla extract, followed by the melted chocolate mixture. Finally, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture until well combined. The dough will be very soft, almost batter-like in texture. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes or until it's firm enough to scoop.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and portion the cookies into heaping tablespoons. Sprinkle each cookie with flaky salt and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until their tops are puffed and crackly. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely.
When the cookies have cooled completely and the ice cream is firm enough to scoop, assemble the sandwiches.
To Assemble: Flip half of the cookies over so their flat sides are up. Top each cookie with a small scoop of ice cream (a cookie scoop works great for this) and top the ice cream with another cookie, flat side-down. Put the sandwiches on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate and re-freeze until they're firm.
If you don't eat these immediately, they'll keep, individually wrapped, for about a week in the freezer.
Photos by Yossy Arefi