Black Plum Ice Cream Sandwiches on Homemade Oat-Graham Crackers
Blue sky and swirling gusts of hot, dry air. Marauding mosquitoes looking for a fix. Quietness only broken by a distant dog barking or impatient driver sounding his horn. Leaves rustling about the ground and tall blades of grass swaying in a mesmerizing, synchronized dance. The long piercing fingers of a midday summer sun and the warm tingle of the bright, distant light landing on your skin.
Squinted eyes trying to hide from the blinding light. The almost oppressive heat surrounding you like a thick, down comforter. A sweaty brow. Trees everywhere. The southern saunter we use as an excuse to enjoy our fleeting time outside.
Frolicking animals unaware of the urban chaos surround them. Glowing facades stuck to sky-scraping towers. Busy sidewalks and hustling men and women. Screeching sirens. The whir of a truck passing a few feet to your left and the hot blast of turbulence stuck to the front of the truck.
I get lost in these moments. I look for excuses to stand outside, anywhere outside. When others seek refuge under the constantly blowing vents of a cherished AC, I seek the reprieve of a wall of heat hitting you as you take your first step outside. I clamor for the embrace only a scorching day can provide. Red shoulders and tips of noses are a sign of success to me.
In the heat, I lose track of important thoughts. I count the swirling leaves, the scattering squirrels, the rays of light peaking through a tall pine instead of the ticks on a clock or x’s on a to-do list. I stare at the sun’s reflection in tall buildings, watch hurried suits run about, and dust clouds circle around an alley entrance. Outside, all that seems to matter is the day seething around you.
Then I close my eyes. I let the sun fall on my skin. It slowly begins to cook me. A light cotton shirt begins to tighten and stick. Droplets of sweat appear as if out of nowhere. My hair curls and frizzes. All the while, the sun roars through the sky and shadows swing around their masters in a tethered dance. Life speeds past me in a blur as I wait in the heat.
My eye is glued to the eyepiece, a lens aimed at some shot I find special in the moment – or some shot I will hope becomes special. A day clips past me as I wait for one moment. The sun finally creeps behind the corner of one building; rays of light shoot out from the silver lined edifice in the distance. Click.
Back home, out of the sweat-drenched clothes, I sink my teeth into a frozen treat. I close my eyes and wash the heat of a day away with one small, cold bite.
Ice Cream Sandwiches: Ice cream sandwiches are quite easy to make. The only hard part is finding the time to make the ice cream. While most ice cream sandwiches use a soft cookie, mine call for a harder graham cracker cookie. I personally love the contrast between soft, creamy ice cream and crunchy, crumbly cookie. So long as you eat it before the ice cream gets too soft you shouldn’t have a problem – wait too long and the unwavering cookies may just squish together and send your ice cream flying out the side.
Black Plum Ice Cream Sandwiches at
y 10-12, 2″ ice cream sandwiches
t 9+ hours
Ice Cream: 8+ hours
Cookies: 30 minutes
Assembly: 30 minutes
Ice cream scoop
Small icing spatula
10, 2×8″ Parchment paper slips
Twine or string
1. Prepare the ice cream and the cookies according to their instructions.
2. Remove the prepared ice cream from the freezer and let sit out at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes to soften to a workable consistency. Have the baked oat-graham cracker cookies handy and ready to use. Place an airtight container (open) in the freezer – this way you can place the assembled sandwiches in the freezer as you go.
3. Lay 1 cookie square flat on the counter or a cutting board. Carefully spread a scoop or two of ice cream on top of the cookie. Shape the soft ice cream into a square to match the shape of the cookie – you can use a broad ice cream scoop or an icing spatula to do this.
4. Carefully press a second cookie on top of the ice cream. Take care not to break the cookie or to squish excess ice cream out the sides of the cookies.
5. Wrap the assembled ice cream sandwich in a parchment paper slip. Tie the paper in place with twine or string. Place the wrapped ice cream sandwich into the container already in the freezer – doing this as you go will keep any ice cream sandwiches from melting.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you assemble all the ice cream sandwiches.
r Store in the freezer in an airtight container.
a Feel free to mix and match your favorite cookie or ice cream flavors.
t Pay attention to the temperature while assembling this recipe.
Homemade Ice Cream: Making ice cream at home is as easy as making custard. It just takes a little bit longer and requires a special tool – the ice cream maker. Once you start making the ice cream, the colder the better – and this applies to everything. Make sure the mixture you will be churning into ice cream has cooled completely; it’s a good idea to have your fridge on it’s coldest setting. You will also want to make sure your freezer is at it’s coldest setting and that the ice cream maker tub has been stored in the lowest portion of the freezer for at least a full day – or according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. After churning the ice cream, place it straight into the bottom of your freezer. If your freezer has a power freeze setting turn it on.
Plum Ice Cream with Plum Brandy Swirl nits
y 2 quarts ice cream
t 8+ hours
Prep: 40 minutes
Chilling: 4+ hours
Churning: 10-25 minutes
Freezing: 4+ hours
Heavy bottomed 3 gallon pot
Stand mixer or whisk
Large glass bowls
Heavy bottomed 3 or 4 qt pot
Ice cream maker
2, 1 qt glass or metal airtight containers
1 pound 12 ounces black plums
2 cups water
8 ounces sugar (this is used in the poaching liquid)
1 orange, zested & cut into slices.
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brandy
4 ounces sugar (this is used in the ice cream)
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Cut the plums in half and remove the pit.
2. Place the plums in a heavy bottomed pot with the water, 8 ounces sugar, orange zest and slices, cinnamon stick, vanilla and brandy. Poach at a slow simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the pears begin to fall apart.
3. Remove the plums from the liquid and blend just the plums in a blender or food processor until smooth and liquidy. Set aside. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange slices from the poaching liquid. Return the poaching liquid to the heavy-bottomed pot.
4. Bring the liquid to a delicate boil and reduce until the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, stirring constantly. Store the reduced liquid in the fridge.
5. Begin whipping the egg yolks and remaining 4 ounces sugar in a separate bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes.
6. Heat the milk and heavy cream in a clean heavy-bottomed pot to the scalding point.
7. Temper the egg and sugar mixture with the scalded milk, whisking constantly. Return the now combined mixture to the heavy-bottomed pot.
8. Over low heat, heat the mixture until it thickens slightly to coat the spoon, no more than 10 minutes, stirring constantly. (Be sure only to use low heat and stir constantly as the eggs can cook if the mixture is cooked too long or too hot. You can do this step in a double boiler if you are concerned about cooking the eggs).
9. Remove from the heat when the mixture is thickened and stir in the blended plums. Stir until completely mixed in. Place the plum ice cream mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate to chill completely, at least 4 hours.
10. Once the ice cream mixture is completely cooled, process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the maker’s instructions. It should take 15 to 20 minutes for the mixture to turn into ice cream. You are looking for a very thick soft serve texture.
11. Before pouring the ice cream into containers, pour 1 cup of the chilled brandy plum syrup into the ice cream. Using a spatula, swirl the liquid around in the ice cream – take care not to mix the liquid completely into the ice cream as you want the swirls to be visible.
12. Pour the now swirled ice cream into freezer-safe containers. Place the containers in the freezer to let the ice cream harden, at least 4 hours.
r Store in an airtight container at your freezer’s coldest temperature.
n Avoid changing the ingredient amounts, chilling or freezing times, temperatures and steps.
i Pay attention to chilling times in this recipe.
t Pay attention to chilling and freezing temperatures in this recipe.
s This recipe requires an ice cream maker.
Homemade graham crackers: Homemade graham crackers may be my favorite boxed-food-to-homemade adaption ever. If you think the stuff you get at the store is good, wait until you try homemade. Graham crackers are named for a man and his namesake flour used in them – graham flour is like whole wheat flour where all portions of the grain are included. In this recipe (an adaptation of my original attempt at homemade graham crackers) I add a little oat flour to give the crackers an extra boost of grainy, earthy goodness. So what makes homemade graham crackers like the real thing? Honey and graham flour. Don’t substitute these ingredients out or skimp on them and make sure they are fresh and good quality!
Oat-Graham Cracker Cookies ns
y 2 dozen, 2″ cookies
t 1 hour
Prep: 10 minutes
Resting/Chilling: 30 minutes
Baking: 15-20 minutes
Flat baking sheet lined with parchment paper
8 ounces graham flour
2 ounces oat flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces sugar
3 ounces unsalted butter, cold, roughly chopped
3 ounces honey
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to thoroughly mix.
3. Add the butter and pulse a few quick times until the butter is broken up and mixed into tiny chunks – the mixture should resemble cornmeal.
4. Add the honey, milk and vanilla. Pulse a few quick times until a dough forms. Be careful not to over mix the dough.
5. Pour out the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Press the dough together and flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes until hardened.
6. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Using a fluted 2″ square cookie cutter, cut out two dozen cookies. Place each cookie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a toothpick, poke holes halfway into each cookie in whatever pattern you choose (I do five: one near each corner and one in the center).
7. Bake the cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes.
8. Let the cookies cool completely before using.
r Store in an airtight container at room temp.
n Avoid substituting or replacing the graham flour and honey in this recipe.
s This recipe requires a food processor.