Its December and that means two things, hot weather and Christmas!!!! Its been a funny start to December in Melbourne, hot weather coupled with torrential downpours converting our once mild little town into a tropical oasis. There’s not much you can do to get away from the sticky-ness, apart from jumping in a swimming pool, or if you’re in the city - the Yarra river. Note – I do not advocate the practice of jumping into the Yarra river, do that at your own peril. Another way to get away from the heat is to eat ice cream.
I’ll find any excuse to eat ice cream, I’ve been known to eat ice cream in the middle of winter, and I don’t mean sitting at home on my couch….I mean going out and hunting down some gelato! So considering that Christmas is just around the corner (oh gosh…already!), I decided to make ginger bread almond ice cream sandwiches.
The ginger bread cookies are chewy, so when you bite into the sandwich you get the soft spicy goodness of the cookie, coupled with a cool creamy ice cream middle. I wanted to make the ice cream really creamy, similar to commercial ice cream sandwiches so you’ll notice that my recipe calls for 2 types of cream to boost the fat content of the ice cream…hmmmm fat. If your health conscious, you can skip that and just use more of one type, but lets face it, how many people who are making their own ice cream are truly health conscious? I’ve also devised an easy way to make ice cream without owning an ice cream machine. It involves a KitchenAid and funnily enough, a freezer. Check out the recipe for more info.
While I was making the ginger bread cookies, Daz asked me to make him ginger bread men. I wasn’t going to deny him, I really didn’t have an excuse not to make them, dough was ready to go and I already had a ginger bread man cookie cutter. And they were so cute in the end anyway, especially with their green t-shirt. Everyone had a lot of fun, until someone got their head bitten off!
Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
Makes roughly 30 cookies.
3/4 cup malt extract or tracel or golden syrup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup water
80 gram butter, softened
3 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Combine together the tracel, brown sugar, sugar, water and butter in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until all of the ingredients are properly combined. Make a large ball and wrap the dough in gladwrap and place in the fridge for least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to achieve roughly a 5mm thickness. Using a round cookie dough cutter, cut dough then transfer cookies to an ungreased baking paper lined baking tray. Make sure to leave a small distance between each cookie, they wont get much bigger, but you don’t want to run the risk of them sticking together.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. At this stage the cookies can be placed in an airtight container and will keep at room temperature for 1 week. If constructing ice cream sandwiches, once cooled place cookies in the freezer ready to have ice cream filling added.
Almond Ice cream
100ml almond milk
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
50ml pouring cream
80 mL double cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1. Bring almond milk to the boil in a small saucepan, once boiled add vanilla bean, and set aside.
2. In a medium sized stainless steel bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar together by hand, then pour almond milk onto the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Cook mixture over a bain-marie while whisking continuously for about 10 minutes or until it begin to thicken thickened. A good way of testing it is if it still smells like raw egg than its not cooked enough, or if it coats the back of a spoon and keeps a straight line when you wipe some away with your finger.
3. Once thickened cool sabayon over ice while still whisking. Once completely cooled whisk both types of cream into the sabayon. Place the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturers instruction. Or use my method: A couple of hours before starting place your KitchenAid stainless steel bowl in the freezer. Once you get to the cooled sabayon/cream mixture, transfer to the frozen mixer bowl and whisk with your KitchenAid for 2 minutes. Transfer to the freezer for 15-20minutes then whisk again for 2 minutes, making sure to scrap down the sides. Repeat this again 4 or 5 times until the ice cream becomes the consistency of a thick soft serve. No need to buy a ice cream machine, and you’ll get perfect, icicle free ice cream every time!
4. To make the ice cream fillers for the sandwiches, place ice cream in a glad wrap lined rectangular plastic container. For thick ice cream sandwiches, make sure that that ice cream is roughly 2 cm thick. Cover the top of the ice cream with more glad wrap and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours to fully set. Once set, use the same sized cookie cutter you used for making the gingerbread cookies and cut round ice cream sandwich fillers. Place back in the freezer for 10 minutes or so and then assemble your sandwiches. Cookie, ice cream filler, cookie……enjoy!!
While we’re on the subject of Christmas, on the weekend Daz and I went along to the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar. It was a last minute decision, so I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to be instore, I was imagine fire breathing donkey’s, three legged men and loads of Swedish meatballs. Sadly, of the three only the last one was on offer. We had a quick bite to eat, devouring Räksmörgås, Æbleskiver's and Frikadeller's . It seemed like fun, so I’ll definitely be adding it to my calendar for next year.