Friday, September 4, 2009

Pine Nut Shortbread Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches

It's amazing how circles will find a way of closing themselves. After making basil sorbet and ice cream I had half a bunch of basil leftover. It was enough to make pesto so I bought pine nuts. After making pesto I was left with half a baggie of pine nuts. The idea of making ice cream sandwiches had been kicking around in my head for a few days and it eventually dawned on me to use the leftover pine nuts in the cookies that would sandwich the basil ice cream. I'm just glad I had used all the garlic.
I got out The Best of Fine Cooking's Cookies magazine from last Christmas, remembering that it included several shortbread recipes. The one that caught my eye was the Orange-Hazelnut Shortbread, but instead of using orange zest and hazelnuts I substituted lemon zest and pine nuts. The nuts, of course, had to be ground. Pine nuts, it turns out, don't grind very well. Because of the high oil content they go very quickly past the ground state to pine nut butter. Initially I was distressed, but decided to use the pine nut butter anyway. The only difference it seemed to make was that the cookies spread a little more than shortbread usually does. The texture was still good and flaky and the flavor was worth a bit of spreading.

Pine Nut Shortbread

adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking: Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 oz. flour
  • 1/4 ground pine nuts (may resemble pine nut butter)
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter, sugar, and salt at low speed until combined but not completely smooth. Add flour, pine nuts, and zest and mix, again at low speed, until the dough begins to come together. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick and cut out cookies with either cutters or a knife. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps and reroll the dough for more cookies.
  • [Alternately, form the dough into a cylinder, making sure it is well compacted and not hollow in the middle, and freeze for at least half an hour. Cut 1/4-inch thick cookies from the cylinder and arrange on prepared baking sheet.]
  • To decorate, attractively arrange a few whole pine nuts on half of the cookies. These will be the tops of your ice cream sandwiches.
  • Chill cookies in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Bake until cookies are golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Remove to racks and allow to cool completely before assembling ice cream sandwiches.
For the sandwiched material I used ice cream that had already been in the freezer for a few days. I made ice cream pucks by mushing it into a cookie cutter the same diameter as my cookies and then sandwiched the pucks between the cookies. It worked pretty well, although the edges melted very quickly and I kept having to catch drips and clean the edges and finally I just through the sandwich in the freezer, figuring it would work itself out there. And it did. I think a better system would be to have the cookies made and cooled before you churn the ice cream and then scoop the still soft, freshly churned ice cream onto the bottom cookie, put the other cookie on top, gently squeeze them together until the ice cream reaches the edges and then calmly put the sandwich in the freezer. As for the freezing, I think the sandwiches can harden up openly in the freezer and only once they are completely frozen need to be transferred to an airtight situation for storage.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

for 6-8 sandwiches

  • Method one (using ice cream already made and hardened): Clear a space in your freezer and place a baking sheet in the cleared space. Using a cookie cutter or other mold the same diameter as your cookies, a plate, and a spoon, form a scoop and a bit of ice cream into a puck. With an offset palette knife, or any other tool you have to hand, place the puck of ice cream on the bottom cookie. Place the other cookie on top of the ice cream and squeeze slightly. Quickly clean up the edges and place the sandwich on the baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat with remaining ice cream and cookies. Allow sandwiches to freeze completely and then place them in an airtight container or wrap them to store.
  • Method two (using freshly churned ice cream): I haven't actually tried this, but I think it might be the superior method. Clear a space in your freezer and place a baking sheet in the cleared space. Put a scoop of freshly churned (and thus soft serve-y) ice cream in the center of the bottom cookie. Place the other cookie on top and gently squeeze until the ice cream reaches the edges. Place sandwich on baking sheet in freezer. Repeat until all cookies are made into sandwiches. Allow sandwiches to freeze completely and then place them in an airtight container or wrap them to store.

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