|From Summer 2012|
This summer, right after school ended, we went off on vacation, and spent the second leg of our trip in New York City. It was my first time visiting. We only stayed three nights, but by the end of our last day I realized that I’d completely fallen in love with the city.
After the quiet serenity of the small town where we had stayed in Holland, New York was something else entirely.
The lawns in Holland had been neatly trimmed, the sidewalks were a uniform shade of light gray, no trash littered the ground. There was hardly any traffic. At dusk, dark shadows cast linings on the clouds, all at once transforming the town into a watercolored landscape, and I remembered the watercolor my sister had bought earlier in the day. It captured the city exactly as I remember it now– neat, visually pretty, but lacking a certain vibrant quality.
In New York that vibrancy was on every street –New York wasn’t aiming for perfection, and I welcomed it. I loved the patches of flattened gray gum spotting the sidewalk, the constant noise of nearby construction sites, and how the smells of dirt and grime mingled with those wafting out of bakeries and hanging over fruit stands. It was chaotic at times, but almost pleasantly so.
During those three days, I decided that New York was my favorite place.
|From Summer 2012|
But a (relatively) short plane flight later, we were in Oregon, all I could think about was how much I’d missed it in the past year. How much prettier it was than in my memories. How much I really loved the Northwest.
I decided then that New York was for visiting, and I know the memories I collected there will surely hold me off until my next visit. Iconic yellow taxi cabs, buildings with character, onion bagels with thick slathers of cream cheese, and the Momofuku desserts, which, sadly, I was not very impressed by.
It may be because I’d made their cereal milk ice cream at home before, and it is tough to trump homemade ice cream. I decided to make my own Momofuku inspired ice cream (in that it’s a rather uncommon ice cream flavor – for the first time, I couldn’t find a single blog post with these sandwiches after scouring the Internet!) and made a recipe for s’mores ice cream sandwiches.
The ice cream between the graham crackers is actual marshmallow ice cream. It is made by dissolving marshmallows in hot custard, and has a texture surprisingly similar to real marshmallows. Chunks of toasted marshmallow give it a deep flavor, and if the sandwiches are dipped into chocolate, they are the equivalent of a frozen s’more.
|From Summer 2012|
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon
Make the dough
Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
[Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they’re very well incorporated.]
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.
Roll out the crackers
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. (Thin cookies are more practical for ice cream sandwiches, but be careful, as they burn easily.) The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Or, cut into any shape you want your ice cream sandwiches to be. I cut squares.
Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Decorate the crackers
Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
|From Summer 2012|
Marshmallow Ice Cream
A Bittersweet Baker Original, very loosely adapted from David Lebozitz’s vanilla ice cream
9 oz of marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Toast the marshmallows under the broiler on parchment paper over a baking sheet or with a torch until golden brown. If toasting under the broiler, make sure to flip the marshmallows to toast both sides. This can get very messy, and works best if you wet your fingers slightly to prevent sticking.
Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan, just until the liquid begins to steam.
In another bowl, stir the egg yolks together. Gradually pour some hot milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolks and milk back into the saucepan and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard that coats the back of the spatula.
Strain the custard into the heavy cream and add the tasted marshmallows immediately. If chunks still remain after the mixture has cooled, you can blend it in a food processor or with a stick blender. I blended it, but added toasted marshmallow chunks as I was layering the ice cream. Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
Churn in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it is churned, layer it into a square pan lined with plastic wrap, so that the ice cream will be easy to cut into squares.
|From Summer 2012|
The underside of the marshmallows, toasted
To Assemble the Sandwiches
Dip one side of each graham cracker into melted chocolate, and allow to cool. Once the chocolate has hardened, cut the ice cream into the same shape as the cookies. Return to freezer as necessary if ice cream begins to melt. Once ready to assemble, allow the ice cream to soften just barely (so that it will stick to the cookies once it freezes again), and sandwich between two cookies.