Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches and Bonbons

Let it be known: this was the week all of my husband's dreams came true.

You see, he is a simple man, with simple dessert needs. While I love deep, dark chocolate cakes drizzled with five kinds of sauces and topped with sorbets that involve obscure ingredient combinations, he likes vanilla ice cream. By itself. With a spoon. And that's it. No matter how much I protest that it's boring, he cites the Barenaked Ladies and claims that "vanilla is the finest of the flavors." Case closed.

So in his honor, I decided to make the vanilla bean ice cream exactly as written, valiantly avoiding any of the tempting variations listed in the recipe. Just milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and a plump juicy vanilla bean. But...there's nothing wrong with making a few...accessories...for the ice cream, is there?
Recently the LA Times food section ran an article about ice cream sandwiches, and they had some really delicious cookie recipes I just had to try. So I kept my ice cream plain, but made some chocolate-sea salt cookies and some coconut cookies to sandwich the ice cream in between.

Both cookie recipes were delicious! They had the perfect blend of chewiness and texture--the ice cream didn't squirt out the sides when you tried to gnaw through the cookie, but they didn't melt into mush when you bit into them, either. The coconut ones could use a little tweaking, perhaps. I added some coconut extract and still thought the flavor was pretty mild--next time I'd toast the coconut that goes into the cookie, to boost the flavor. Still, coconut and vanilla is a winning combination in my book.

The chocolate-sea salt cookies were divine. The chocolate cookies were barely sweetened (much like the flavor of those rectangular ice cream sandwich cookies, or Oreos) so the sweet vanilla ice cream really shone. And the salt added an interesting flavor without being too assertive.
And then...BONBON TIME! I'd never made ice cream bonbons before, and now I'm wondering why I've been wasting so many years of my life without them. So easy, and so delicious! I baked mini cookies out of the sandwich cookie dough, and while they were hot from the oven, cut them with a small round cutter to get them perfectly uniform. Then a small scoop of ice cream, a quick chill, and a dunk in chocolate. Perfection in just a few bites!

The bonbons on the coconut cookies got a toasted coconut topping, and the chocolate ones got chopped cacao nibs. They were a perfect balance of crunchy cookie, creamy ice cream, and rich chocolate. And because they're so small, they don't have any calories, so they're practically a guilt-free snack. (Right? Right??)

Oh yes, and the ice cream itself--amazing! Soooo creamy without seeming too heavy or rich. This may be my new favorite ice cream base recipe. And I can tell you from personal experience that it also goes well with warm chocolate chip cookies, and as an after-breakfast snack. Ahem.

Lynne at Lynnylu chose this week's recipe, and you can find the recipe and some delicious pictures over at her blog. The sandwich cookie recipes and bonbon instructions are after the cut...

Coconut Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches
from the Los Angeles Times food section
Note: Sandwiches are best assembled one day ahead to allow the cookies to soften slightly.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, plus 2/3 cup for rolling, divided
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups loosely packed sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. In the bowl of a stand mixture using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter, one-half cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, eggs and vanilla at medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes (it will not be fluffy).

2. Meanwhile, grind the coconut in a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 seconds (you should have a scant 1 2/3 cups).

3. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix the combined dry ingredients, one-half at a time, into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the coconut, mixing well.

4. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap, and flatten into a disc (the dough will be very sticky). Chill for 2 hours or longer to firm the dough.

5. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the remaining two-thirds cup of sugar in a small bowl. Using one round of dough at a time (keep the rest chilled), shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the sugar. Place the dough 2 inches apart on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Lightly grease the bottom of a pint glass, or similar glass, with a little butter, then dip the glass into the sugar to coat. Press the cookie with the bottom of the glass until it is about one-eighth inch thick and 2 1/2 inches wide. Repeat with all the balls, and make sure the glass is well-sugared each time before pressing, as the dough will be sticky. Repeat with the second half of the refrigerated dough, forming and pressing the balls.

6. Bake the cookies, one pan at a time and in the center of the oven, until they are lightly golden on the edges but still white in the middle, about 10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. Remove the cookies immediately to a wire rack to prevent them from sticking to the baking sheet. Cool completely.

Each ice cream sandwich: 271 calories; 3 grams protein; 27 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 16 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 67 mg. cholesterol; 112 mg. sodium.

Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches
from the Los Angeles Times food section
Note: The sea salt can be omitted, but it balances the sweetness of the ice cream. Gray sea salt, sometimes referred to as Celtic sea salt or sel gris, is recommended. It's available at most cooking stores and select well-stocked markets. Sandwiches are best assembled one day ahead to allow the cookies to soften slightly.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons standard cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt for sprinkling

1. In the bowl of a stand mixture using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter, one-half cup sugar and the brown sugar at medium speed until light, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and mix well to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the salt, flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, one-half at a time, until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or longer.

3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the remaining one-third cup of sugar in a small bowl.

4. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. If the dough starts to become sticky, return it to the refrigerator to chill briefly. Roll the cookies in the sugar. Lightly press down on the balls to flatten them to one-half inch. Place 5 to 6 small grains of sea salt on half the cookies (these will be the tops of the sandwiches), spacing the salt crystals out on top of the balls as much as possible.

5. Place the balls 2 inches apart on lightly buttered baking sheets. Bake until the surface puffs and begins to deflate, and the cookies darken slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. Cool the cookies for 1 minute on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies from the sheet to a wire rack to cool.

Each ice cream sandwich: 278 calories; 3 grams protein; 31 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 16 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 68 mg. cholesterol; 133 mg. sodium.

Bonbon Assembly

25 small cookies (like vanilla wafers)
1 pint ice cream
1 pound good-quality semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate-flavored candy coating)
Toppings like toasted coconut, crushed nuts, or cacao nibs

Use a small cookie or candy scoop to scoop small balls of slightly softened ice cream onto the cookies. Freeze until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Melt the chocolate or candy coating and allow it to cool slightly, so that it is still fluid but is barely warm to the touch.

Working in batches, remove a few bonbons from the freezer and dip them quickly in the chocolate, trying to minimize the time they are in the chocolate so that they do not melt. Place the dipped bonbons on a foil-lined baking sheet and immediately sprinkle the toppings on top before the chocolate sets. Repeat with remaining bonbons and chocolate. Freeze until the chocolate is set. If for some reason these are not gone within 10 minutes of assembly, store them in an airtight container in the freezer.


  1. Love your ice cream treats!

  2. Ok - that settles it - I'm moving in. Right now.

  3. fairy of the crumb9:21 PM

    but but but, where's my sample?
    Also, niceeeeee tennis reference below. Awesome.

  4. Wow, too cool! How'd you make your sandwiches so neat though? Mine always look messy or melty or things squish out the sides :(

  5. Love the bonbons!

  6. Accessories--I love it!
    And hello--BON BONS! Awesome!

  7. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Oh yum. Both the cookies and bon bons sound amazing. They look wonderful.

  8. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Stunning. Simply stunning. Your Vanilla Ice Cream sandwiches look so amazingly delicious! And how did you get them so perfect?
    I love bon bons and it never would have occurred to me to make them myself (if I could that is). I could eat a whole bucket of yours, especially since they're guilt-free! =)

  9. Vanilla is the finest of the flavors, but I love how you tarted it up. I must try those ice cream sandwiches immediately, if not sooner. Thanks for the idea!

  10. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Vanilla is the finest of the flavors *because* it lends itself to coconut cookies, chocolate sea salt cookies and other magical confections. Send the leftovers my way.

  11. Amazing! I think you've settled the question of whether vanilla ice cream needs additions - definitely not, only cookies.

  12. Yum! Yum! Yum! I'll take one of each! :)

  13. Why do I visit you when I'm hungry? These ice cream sandwiches are adorable, and it sounds like you eliminated my only objections about ice cream sandwiches. Every time I stop by I pledge to do better on presentation.

  14. OH!! You are my HERO(ine). Love the bon-bons. I want some - now!!! And the sandwiches. Oh, why don't you live next door to me???

  15. Your ice cream treats looks awesome!
    Love the ice cream bon-bons!

  16. I love the looks of the little bonbons...must try them soon, I just made a very subtle lavendar blueberry ice cream that I think would work like this quite nicely...thanks!!

  17. My computer screen looks edible!

  18. Beautiful ice cream cookies. I am with Engineer Baker and want to know how you made them so neat and round. Let us in on the secret, please!