It, in my mind, is already fall. It might be 83° out right now. I might be sitting at my desk downing cold fizzy water and avoiding stepping out of the path of my fan for more than a few moments. It doesn’t matter, because none of this can counteract the mental shift that began last week, when my body sensed a chill in the air and the faint, unmistakeable smell of autumn. It’s that first hint of season change that makes my brain snap out of a its whiny I-am-so-over-summer-and-all-its-oppresive-grossness dormancy and come alive, in an unstoppable way. It feels like every little bit of me is vibrating at an alarming frequency, starting in my synapses, traveling down my spine, and radiating out through the rest of my body. I speak louder and faster. I fidget excessively. I get crazy eyes. I’m so edgy that I actually scream when I catch sight of a stray thread hanging from the dishtowel above the sink because I assume it’s a spider. (A spider that presumably intends to lay eggs in my face, because that’s a thing I’ve been afraid of since I was little — thanks a lot, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell.)
The weather, unfortunately, is not cooperating with my fall cravings. I want to eat soup and roasted butternut squash and an entire spice cake, but it’s too warm, so I rifle through the veggie crisper and throw together some sort of salad-y thing with a serious lack of enthusiasm. These little ice cream sandwiches, however, were a different story. A summer treat with fall flavors that tasted like the perfect compromise between seasons.
I have been obsessing over the idea of carrot ice cream ever since Phi suggested it last month. Carrots. Roasted carrots. In ice cream. With tons of warm carrot cake-y spices. Then my friend Matt agreed to let me go a little crazy and make a thousand treats for his birthday, and I began thinking about the carrot ice cream in a cute, party-friendly sandwich form. With ginger cookies, which seemed like the perfect choice. And then I found Cat’s recipe for carrot & ginger ice cream, which was pretty much exactly what I’d envisioned (right down to sandwiching it between two ginger cookies). I was psyched.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen me describe these as tasting like ice cream and carrot cake had a baby and wrapped it in a delicious gingerbread blanket. But it begs repeating, because it’s so true. While the ice cream and the cookies and delicious on their own, they are amazing together. Even if you didn’t want to bother with making sandwiches, I’d recommend crumbling a spicy, molasses-y ginger cookie over a bowl of this stuff. The thought of making ice cream out of carrots might seem a little strange, but you’ll cast aside all doubt once you taste the finished product. And since this has been the summer of sweet corn ice cream awesomeness, it’s safe to say that putting veggies in ice cream is a very good idea. So yeah, put some carrots in your ice cream. For your health, ya know.
Carrot Cake Ice Cream
(adapted from Savory Notes)
makes: around 1 quart
For the roasted carrot purée:
Preheat oven to 375°. Peel around 1–2 lbs of carrots and cut into chunks. Toss with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a liberal sprinkling of brown sugar. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 35–40 minutes, until carrots are soft and nicely browned. Cool slightly, then add roasted carrots to your food processor or blending, along with a tablespoon of water. Blend, adding a little bit more water if necessary. (You’re looking the create a thick sort of paste, not a runny purée, so add as little water as possible.) You can use any leftover purée for a variety of things. (My personal favorite is adding it to mashed potatoes, because my mom did that all the time. Cat also suggests frying it into patties with sweet potatoes, which sounds awesome.)
For the ice cream:
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of buttermilk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup of roasted carrot purée
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of raw honey
1 vanilla bean
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
Warm whole milk, sugar, honey, and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream in a heavy saucepan. Scrape in vanilla bean caviar and add the pod to the mixture as well. Once warm, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for half an hour.
Pour the buttermilk and the remaining 1/2 cup of cream into a large bowl along with the salt, spices, and carrot purée. Set a strainer on top. Prepare an ice bath big enough to hold the large bowl. Remove the vanilla bean pod and rewarm the milk mixture. Beat together the 5 egg yolks in a separate bowl. Once the milk mixture is warm, temper the eggs by slowly whisking it into the eggs a little at a time. Once you’ve incorporated the two, pour everything back into the saucepan.
Stir constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the large bowl of heavy cream. Transfer bowl to the ice bath and stir until cool.
Chill the custard in the fridge overnight, then process in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
(slightly adapted from The Kitchn)
makes: around 5 dozen cookies
Notes: I opted to go with a cake-y cookie to ensure that they stayed chewy even when frozen. I made my cookies a little too thick and wound up cutting them down, which was a tedious process. I’ve adjusted the recipe to make thinner cookies, but you’ll want to keep an eye on them when they’re in the oven, to be sure they don’t over-bake. I also recommend gently flattening them with a cake spatula when they first come out of the oven, since they tend to puff up a little bit. Also, it occurs to me now that since I recommend flattening the cookies below, it might be easier to roll out the dough and cut out the rounds with a cookie cutter. Since I haven’t tested that theory, I’m sticking to the original instructions, but feel free to give it a try.
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
Whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the molasses and egg. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients with a spoon. Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until dough is firm (at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days).
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Break off a small piece of dough and form into a ball about a 1/2 in diameter. Place on the baking sheet and flatten into a disc about 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies about 1 inch apart. Bake for 7–9 minutes, or until edges of cookies are firm and look dry, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Once cookies have finished baking, remove from the oven and immediately flatten them by pressing gently on their tops with a cake spatula. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To assemble the sandwiches:
Separate your cookies into pairs that are approximately the same size and shape. Add a scoop of ice cream to a cookie, top it with another, and smush together. Place sandwiches in the freezer as you make them, returning the ice cream to the freezer for a bit if it gets too soft and melty. Once you’ve made all the sandwiches, let them sit in the freezer for a bit to fully set. Once completely frozen, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or stack them in a container with layers of parchment in between.