Author Notes: With their familiar buttery flavor and classic triangular shape, these ice cream filled beauties offer a cool and creamy element that takes hamantaschen to a whole new level of scrumptiousness. The toasty brown sugar shell is bright and earthy with its speckles of rosemary and almond, just as the velvety fruit filling offers a lusciousness that literally melts in your mouth.
When I started daydreaming about creative twists for traditional hamantaschen, playing with the dough came first. Imagining a fruity filling, I created a dough to complement it: nutty almond meal alongside the flour, molasses-rich brown sugar in place of white, and speckles of fresh rosemary for a nice herbal whisper. A splash of almond extract proved to further brighten my new dough’s complex flavors.
I began to consider new fillings and experimented with fresh raspberries in place of jam, oozing marzipan for an amaretto-y kick, and even cheesecake-like mixtures. Still not sold, I turned to ice cream (as I do in most dilemmas) and couldn't give up on the idea of its fruity, frozen deliciousness in a nutty herbal shell.
It was now just a matter of how to blind-bake them. After trials with pie weights, dried beans, parchment pouches and more, I found that floured whole almonds worked best (and can be re-used to make almond meal for more hamantaschen: a delicious cycle of baking and savoring!).
Like an ice cream sandwich’s festive little cousin, this ice cream filled cookie has only one downfall: it can’t be eaten warm from the oven. But I really don’t think you’ll mind once you taste one. —butter, sugar, flowers
Makes: about 2 dozen
Prep the almonds for blind-baking:
cup (or 5 ounces) whole shelled unsalted almonds
teaspoon melted butter
tablespoon all purpose flour
For the cookie dough and filling:
cup almond meal (milled with skin-on; not blanched)
cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
teaspoon table salt
teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
cup unsalted butter at soft room temperature
cup brown sugar, packed
teaspoon pure almond extract
cups strawberry, raspberry, or peach ice cream
- Place whole almonds in a bowl and add melted butter, mixing all nuts are coated. Add flour and stir vigorously until all nuts are dusted with flour. Set aside.
- Line two medium/large cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Place almond meal in a medium bowl, then sift the flour, salt and baking powder over it. Whisk together until well-blended and any lumps of almond meal are broken up. Whisk in the rosemary until evenly dispersed. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter until even in consistency. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Repeat with almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are blended; dough will resemble moist crumbs. Knead with hands to form a ball. Split dough into two; cover one of the balls with plastic wrap and set it aside.
- Transfer unwrapped dough to an even, floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a slab with a thickness of no more than 1/8 to 1/6 inch. Re-flour rolling pin, surface, and all tools often. Using a floured 3″ round cookie cutter, cut out circles from dough. With a floured flat spatula, transfer each dough circle to the parchment lined baking sheets. (Work quickly, as letting the rolled dough sit out for too long will cause it to dry and will make it crack when trying to fold it.)
- Immediately place 5 floured almonds in the center of each cookie, then fold up 3 edges to form a triangle. Pinch corners of the opening tightly to prevent cookies from flopping open while baking. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes; this will help ensure that they hold their shape. While cookies freeze, preheat the oven to 375 F, and unwrap the remaining dough, repeating the rolling, cutting, filling, folding and freezing process.
- Bake frozen cookies one sheet at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges and bottoms are toasty brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
- Use a toothpick to loosen and remove whole almonds from each cookie’s center, bracing cookie with one hand while holding toothpick with the other. (I admit this sounds tedious, but the almonds shouldn’t be very stuck, and the process goes fast. If any nuts refuse to budge, try stabbing the almond with the toothpick and prying it out, or just leave it – a toasted almond in a cookie isn’t such a bad surprise!)
- Set aside the floured almonds to re-use as you wish. (You may opt to pulse them in a food processor to make your own almond meal, perhaps for another batch of these cookies. If you use them for another purpose, just remember they’re neither gluten nor dairy free.)
- Let the emptied cookies chill completely, at least to room temperature, before filling. Set your ice cream on the countertop for a few minutes to let it soften. Transfer the ice cream to a pastry bag or plastic bag with a small corner cut off; place open tip inside a cookie. Squeeze until corners are filled and ice cream domes out the top. (Alternately, you can use a small spoon or mini spatula to fill them, but I find the piping method easier.)
- Repeat with all cookies, serving or placing in freezer immediately as you go. Naturally, these are best eaten just after being baked, cooled and filled. They are also wonderful treated like ice cream sandwiches — stored in a tightly covered container in the freezer (if stacking cookies, place parchment or waxed paper in between layers) — and eaten within a week. When serving from the freezer, let sit out for a few minutes before digging in.