I suppose I’ll have to apologise for my extended absence after my birthday post, but this is going to be a long one to make up for that. It’s actually two different recipes rolled into one post, but recipes that complement each other in ways that the first bite will immediately make you understand.
Let me put it into a simple equation: macarons + ice cream = ultimate indulgence.
I’d have this over cake any day, any time.
Now a little backstory for how this recipe actually came to be made: It was actually Jason’s request for our birthday. I told him I’d make him whatever he wanted as a birthday gift, and immediately he announced it would have to involve macarons in some way. It was then I realized it just might be my chance to try out the recipe I bookmarked from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home. I wordlessly handed him the book, showed him the page, and he said ‘THIS!’ without hesitation.
The next step was picking out the ice cream flavour. Now I would never say this to Jason’s face, but I trust the kid’s judgment when it comes to these things. He knows all about flavour balance and good combinations, so I let him pick out an ice cream flavour to go with the macaroons (chocolate, he specified) and after a few minutes of browsing he decided on lemon. Of course I was ecstatic! LEMON. Mmmmm.
But neither of us were even aware that this was going to be one of the best desserts we would ever put in our mouths.
Okay. Let’s talk about the ice cream first. There’s actually not much to say about it, except that I looooove it. It has that tangy sourness I always look for in a lemon-flavoured dessert- the kind that makes you pucker up and want some more but leave you refreshed in the end. This is all thanks to the addition of lemon syrup during churning.
The first thing you do when you start this lemon ice cream is to make a lemon juice-sugar concoction, and then you make the ice cream base with strips of lemon zest for good measure. I ALWAYS refrigerate my ice cream bases overnight before churning because I find this helps in really bringing out the flavours more effectively.
Once the ice cream base and maker are ready for churning, you pour the base in first, followed by the syrup, letting the machine spin the ice cream and syrup together. It’s quite a genius way to make sure the lemon tang is infused WITH the ice cream rather than have it drown within the thick creamy folds of the ice cream base.
This sort of full-on lemon flavour might not be for everyone though, so if you’re not the sort who likes sour things or lemon-flavoured treats, you can lessen the amount of syrup you add at the very last step.
Lemon Cream Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
For the lemon syrup
- 2 to 3 lemons, reserve zest
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the ice cream base
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces 3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- Zest of 2 lemons, reserved from above
- Before beginning the recipe, remember to chill your ice cream maker's bowl as per manufacturer's instructions.
Make the lemon syrup
- 1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the 2 lemons in large strips; set aside. Halve the lemon and squeeze enough juice to make 1/2 cup.
- 2. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and refrigerate until chilled.
Make the ice cream base
- 3. Mix about 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
- 4. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
- 5. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- 6. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and lemon zest. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
- 7. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- 8. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
- 9. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag or container or pouch. Submerge the sealed bag in the ice water for about 30 minutes. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold.*
- 10. Remove the lemon zest. Pour ice cream base into the ice cream machine's canister, then pour the lemon syrup through the opening on top of the machine. Continue to spin the machine until thick and creamy
- 11. Pack ice cream into a storage container.** Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
** If making ice cream sandwiches, some people like to freeze the ice cream in a 9-by-9-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper. This way one can simply cut the ice cream in the shape of your ice cream cookie (use a knife if square and a cookie cutter if round) rather than scooping and pressing the ice cream between two pieces of cookies. This is an especially helpful technique for fragile cookies. Adapted from <i>Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams</i> by Jeni Britton Bauer
I think this would be a great opportunity for me to say that after this macaron ice cream sandwich encounter, Jeni’s ice cream book has snaked its way into my top 3 favourite cookbooks of all time because, a) her ice cream flavours are simply astoundingly delicious, her process super easy; b) these macaron ice cream sandwiches are DA BOMB. FYI, I don’t throw that word around lightly.
Jeni’s recipe from her book actually makes a perfect regular macaron as well, because as you can see: FEET! It’s a mighty impressive recipe quite frankly. I think the fact that Jeni describes them as the less finicky brother of the French macaron can potentially erase a lot of worries especially for newbies. If you look closely, the basic instructions are quite similar to that of making actual macarons. This makes me believe it might just be a good recipe to start with when one wishes to get a taste of what it’s like to make a macaron sans the nerve-wracking warnings.
Since I have some experience making French macarons and already know what it should feel like when the batter is ready for piping, I stopped mixing when my batter reached that magma-like consistency. I actually am not so sure if it will produce the same results if I had folded the mixture some more, though to be on the safe side, aim for batter that has the almond-sugar mixture completely folded in (and by this I mean after you’ve mixed all the way to the bottom of the bowl and made sure absolutely no streaks remain), with a smooth but still thick and pipeable consistency.
Even though the book says the recipe makes 6 ice cream sandwiches, I actually managed to make macaroons enough for 10, if not 12, ice cream sandwiches. I drew around 2-1/2 inch cookie cutters on parchment paper to act as my guide for when I piped out my macaroons, but boy did they still end up really big. One sandwich can be divided among two people actually. (Imagine how big Jeni’s version is since she uses 3-inch rounds!) Regardless of size, this recipe produces some very lovely feet and a crisp shell with a perfectly light interior.
I think it’s a good thing that this recipe makes a whopping amount of macaroon cookies, because I really am not exaggerating when I say this stuff is too awesome to run out of. I mean just imagine sandwiching every which flavour of ice cream using this. Any flavour that goes well with chocolate will be a match made in heaven for these cookies. Mint? Green Tea? Nutella? Bailey’s? Heck, make it a double chocolate (chilli chocolate?) kind of thing. Why not?
I was actually glad Jason decided to go with the Lemon Cream Ice Cream. As you know, lemon is a favourite flavour of mine. But thanks to the way the ice cream is constructed, I knew it was going to be a tangy-yummy one that will balance out the sweetness of a macaron shell. And I was right.
Needless to say, not only Jason fell in love with this combination, but my other brothers did as well.
Chocolate Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 9 to 10 ice cream sandwiches
- 8 ounces almond flour or very finely ground almonds
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder *
- 3/4 cup egg whites, from 6 to 7 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 quart ice cream of choice*
Make the macaroons
- 1. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 2 1/2 to 3 inch cookie cutter (or glass) as a guide, trace circles on the parchment with a pencil or marker. This will help to ensure the macaroons end up the same size and will be easier to pair. Flip the sheet of parchment over.
- 2. In a food processor, grind almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder until a fine flour forms. Do not allow the mixture to become paste! Sift mixture through a fine mesh sieve if necessary, discarding any large bits remaining.
- 3. In a large metal mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk eggs and salt until frothy.
- 4. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and whip at medium-high speed until the egg whites are shiny and hold medium peaks, about 5 minutes.
- 5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture into egg whites one-third at a time, until thoroughly combined. Don't worry about counting strokes as these cookies are not as finnicky as typical macarons. Just make sure to fold, making sure to scrape even the bottom of the bowl, until no more almonds remain and the mixture is flowy but remains thick. (At this point you can also add food colouring for more colourful cookies if you did not go with chocolate macaroons. Fold in drops of food colouring at a time until the desired intensity is achieved.)
- 6. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain round tip and fill halfway with batter. (You can also use a ziplock bag and just cut off the corner.) Hold the bag upright and pipe the macaroons onto the parchment paper in a tight spiral motion starting at the center of your traced circles making your way to the edge. Refill your pastry bag as necessary and continue to pipe remaining cookies, creating new parchment stencils if needed.
- 7. Let cookies sit at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 minutes to dry. This will help create the signature crisp crust on the outside of a macaroon. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
- 8. Bake the cookies one tray at a time for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway, until they have slightly risen (have some feet) and look set on top. (You can gently press the top of the shell with a finger to determine if it has set enough.) Remove from oven and let cool completely.
- 9. Slide the parchment sheet of macaroons onto a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 month) prior to assembling sandwiches. If not using immediately, transfer the macaroons to a freezer bag or container, but be careful as they are delicate.
- 10. Place half of macaroons flat side up on a work surface. One at a time, place a small scoop of ice cream on each cookie, and then using the back of a spoon, gently press the ice cream scoop and spread it out evenly to cover the whole surface of the cookie. Gently press a second piece of cookie on top of the ice cream to adhere. (Alternate procedure below. ***)
- 11. Wrap each sandwich in waxed paper or plastic wrap and freeze at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.
- Storage: Sealed in an airtight container, the sandwiches will keep for up to 2 weeks.
** I paired my macaroons with the tangy Lemon Ice Cream (recipe above) to balance out the sweetness that is typical to a macaron cookie.
*** Some people actually like to freeze their ice cream in a 9-by-9-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper. This way one can simply cut the ice cream in the shape of your ice cream cookie (use a knife if square and a cookie cutter if round) rather than scooping and pressing the ice cream between two pieces of cookies. This is an especially helpful technique for fragile cookies like this one, plus it makes sure the ice cream is evenly distributed within the sandwich. Adapted from <i>Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home</i> by Jeni Britton Bauer
But that was just an excuse, because he admitted later on that even if he could bring the sandwiches to school he wouldn’t. The sandwiches rightfully belong in our freezer, where they will await him and his cravings any moment they should hit. What a totally Jason thing to say.
I rolled my eyes but decided to just go with it. They’re my gift to him after all.