It is the fleeting nature of ice-cream that appeals to me – the idea of catching something at its brief moment of perfection. In the case of ice-cream, that’s somewhere along the road from rock hard to milky puddle. They may bring with them a sense of peace and lazy summer days, but ices also come with a sense of urgency. I was the kid that would always choose a wafer over a cornet, fascinated by the way the fragile biscuits stuck to your lips, but also enjoying the race to finish before the block of vanilla ice-cream dripped down my shirt.
The ice-cream sandwich has come a long way since I was in short trousers. Its flavourless wafers have now been ditched in favour of crisp cookies that flatter the flavour of the ice. I made a lemon version this week – a simple no-churn job with yoghurt, cream and lemon curd – and held it between thin, crisp biscuits speckled with grated orange zest. Matching wafer to ice-cream can be fun: chocolate ice-cream and ginger cookies; almond wafers to raspberry sorbet; pistachio biscuits holding saffron ice-cream. You can make almond tuiles, ginger snaps or the one I especially like, a softer shortbread-style cookie that doesn’t go too hard in the freezer.
Before we tucked into the platter of frosty lemon sandwiches, I had brought to the table an aubergine curry, spiced with ginger and turmeric, and lush with herbs, the heat of the chilli softened with coconut milk. Our plates cleared, it seemed like the perfect moment for something cool and citrus, deeply nostalgic and yet at the same time fresh and new.
Orange and lemon ice-cream sandwiches
Make the ice-cream first, then the biscuits. To assemble the sandwiches, I find it easiest to place a biscuit top side down on the work surface, place a similar size cookie cutter on top then spoon the ice-cream into the cookie cutter, gently smoothing the surface as I go. Remove the cookie cutter (it pulls away easily), place a second biscuit on top, then freeze immediately and continue with the next. It’s a production line job, but easy enough. You will have some ice-cream left over to keep in the freezer for later. Makes 8 sandwiches
For the ice-cream:
double cream 500ml
natural yoghurt 200g
lemon curd 300g
lemons juice of 2
For the biscuits:
caster sugar 25g
icing sugar 25g
plain flour 125g
orange 1 large
For the ice-cream, whip the cream until it is thick, stopping before it is stiff enough to sit up in peaks. It should lie in slovenly folds. Stir in the yoghurt, lemon curd and juice. Tip everything into a freezer box and freeze for a minimum of four hours. Beat every hour with a whisk to ensure a creamier consistency.
For the biscuits, line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Using a food mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Sieve together the flour and cornflour. Finely grate the orange and add to the butter and sugar, then add the flour and mix briefly, until you have a soft dough.
Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface or pastry board, bring together into a ball, then roll out to roughly 5cm, roughly the thickness of two £1 coins. Using a 7cm cookie cutter, cut out 16 biscuits and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet, a few centimetres apart. Rest the cookies for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack using a palette knife.
When the ice-cream has set and the biscuits are cooled, you can assemble the sandwiches. Place a 2cm-thick layer of cream on half of the biscuits, then place the remaining biscuits on top. Freeze the sandwiches until needed.
Aubergines with coriander and coconut
I have been making a lot of gently spicy food this week, including this vibrant green curry with mint and ginger. Serves 4
onions 3, medium
olive oil 5 tbsp
green chillies 2
lime leaves 5
coconut milk 400ml
turmeric 1 tsp
to serve steamed rice or warm flatbread
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Peel and roughly chop the onions, then put them in a roasting tin. Slice the aubergines in half lengthways, then cut each half into thin slices, about 1cm thick and place them in with the onions. Pour over the olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, then toss the vegetables to coat them evenly in the oil. Bake the onions and aubergines for 45 minutes, letting them soften, turning them occasionally.
Peel the ginger. In a blender or food processor, reduce the chillies, mint leaves, coriander, lime leaves and ginger to a coarse paste, then add the coconut milk and turmeric. Scrape into a medium to large saucepan then add the roasted onion and aubergine and leave to simmer over a moderate heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with steamed rice or warm flatbreads.