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Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwiches

  It can't be humanly tired to be this possible.

  I definitely just said that to myself.  Which tells you two things: 1- I talk to myself, and 2- There may be some incoherent ramblings in this post.  Bear with me.

  My across-the-ocean baking bud Irene and I are back at it!  You recall our last collaboration, the earl grey chocolate cake?  That was a good one.  This time round it was Irene's turn to choose our recipe.  Buuuut instead of choosing something specific, she decided to go with a theme.  An ice cream theme.

  The minute I read her email I had bells going off in my head.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

  I've had my eye on Playful Cooking's tiramisu ice cream for awhile.  Good lord, what's not to love?  There's actual mascarpone in it and everything.  I'll admit, I was skeptical, but I tried a fingerful fresh out of the ice cream maker and was blown away.  It was tiramisu, in ice cream form.  Like, exactly.  The coffee, the mascarpone, it was all there.  All that was missing was the lady fingers.  Which got me thinking...how crazy awesome would tiramisu ice cream sandwiches be?

  So the idea was conceived a long time ago, but only last week did I finally do something about it.  You may not know this about me, but I've certainly tried my hand at tiramisu.  I've made it completely from scratch, in cupcake form, and made a festive version for my sister's birthday strewn with chocolate curls.

  How is it that these things have not made it onto my blog?  Honestly, it beats me.  I guess I was nervous about piping ladyfingers or something and decided to just test it out, but honestly it is not hard.  Tiramisu is danged easy, and hella delicious.  It's one of my favorite desserts.

  The only thing is it is a bit time-consuming.  But listen, if it's labeled quick & easy, it's not worthy of your tastebuds.  I'm sorry.

  Anyway, I made my idea a reality.  I only had one shot at this, and while I'd love to say that it was totally spot-on, it wasn't.  They are wonderful sandwiches and we gobbled them quickly, but there are a few minor changes I've made to the recipe below.  Nothing huge, just the amount of soaking the ladyfinger biscuits need and some proportional things.  You can handle it, I have no worries.

  You see I found the ladyfinger bit to be a little dry, thus the increased soaking in the coffee syrup.  Darn, huh?  Plus, the ice cream does tend to squeege out the sides a bit when you bite into it, but I don't know what to tell you there.  It's an ice cream sandwich.  They're messy.  Grab a napkin, lick your fingers, and get over it.  Also, I found that these were infinitely better after sitting in the freezer overnight, and they're less likely to squeege out the sides the longer they've been sitting frozen.  So be warned, it's a good two-day process to make these.

  So these aren't your atypical squishy enjoyable little sandwiches.  They're a bit more refined than that.  Ladyfingers are fluffy, eggy, sponge-like cookies; not the sticky chocolate-y things you're used to having encompass your super creamy vanilla ice cream.

  But that's totally ok.  You're biting into a coffee-soaked cookie of ladyfinger goodness, and into a creamy layer of mascarpone and coffee-infused ice cream.  The bitter cocoa powder will linger on the roof of your mouth for just a second as you delve into the sweet center, and your teeth may freak a bit if they're hyper sensitive to cold things (like mine), but they'll survive.  Eating these in themselves is an art, and a lovely one at that.  I promise that if you like tiramisu, you will love these.

  Check out Irene's post on Pear Frozen Yogurt!  Dang can she make awesome food.

Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yield: about eight, 3-inch sandwiches

Ingredients for the ice cream:*
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup freshly-brewed strong coffee 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kahlua
*Heads up, you're gonna have leftovers of the ice cream.  Thank me later.

Ingredients for the ladyfinger cookies:
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting later on

Ingredients for the soaking syrup:
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
  • 3 tbsp. Kahlua
  • 6 tbsp. sugar

To make the ice cream, pour milk and cream in a saucepan and turn on the heat.  Slit vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the beans out using a small spoon and drop them in the pan along with the vanilla bean pod.  Place mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  In the mean time, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to a creamy consistency in a medium bowl.  Add the mascarpone cheese and whisk until combined.  Continue heating the milk until it is simmering, but not boiling.  Pour 1/4 cup of hot milk slowly into the egg yolk mixture while whisking simultaneously.  Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan of hot milk and give it a mix.  Cook the mixture on a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the custard looks thick and coats the back of a spoon with a thin film.  Pour the mixture in a container and put the container on an ice bath for about an hour or allow it to rest in the refrigerator overnight.  

Line a 9 x 13″ pan with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to chill.  Add the espresso powder, coffee, and Kahlua to the chilled custard mixture.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instruction.  When the ice cream has reached a soft serve consistency, spread some of the ice cream into the pan in an even layer about 1 inch thick.  Freeze until firm. 

To make the ladyfingers, pencil eight 3-inch diameter circles onto one side of two sheets of parchment paper (making a combined total of 16 circles).  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with the prepared parchment paper, placing the penciled sides down. This will help the parchment stick to the pan, which you will need it to later on.  Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter will deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter inside the circles you've drawn, be mindful not to mound them so you don't get huge biscuits, keep it one layer and stay inside the lines.

Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness. Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar. You may also use a pastry bush to help it along.

Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until they puff up, turn very lightly golden brown and are still soft. Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack. Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

To assemble the sandwiches, whisk together the coffee, Kahlua, and sugar in a small bowl. Take the ladyfinger cookies and soak each side in the sweetened coffee mixture for about 2-3 seconds. They should be moist but not soggy. Transfer to a work surface to await the ice cream. Take a 3-inch circle cutter and cut circles out of the frozen layer of ice cream, sandwiching them between two ladyfinger cookies. Immediately transfer each completed sandwich into a large container or several smaller containers and place in the freezer. Let them sit for an hour or so to freeze together, then remove and quickly sift a not-too-generous layer of cocoa powder over the tops of the sandwiches. Wrap individually if desired, otherwise just return the covered container(s) back to the freezer. At this point it's preferable to let them sit overnight to let the flavors meld, but just be sure to do at least two hours. Enjoy!

Sources: ice cream adapted from Playful Cooking, ladyfingers adapted from SprinkleBakes, soaking syrup adapted from Annie's Eats, and sandwich method also adapted from Annie's Eats. The idea is an Indigo Scones original.