So earlier this week, to my horror, I thought I had developed a minor peanut allergy. But I seem to have been wrong, as the hives are back, and I didn’t go near peanut butter today. You see, I had made these delicious peanut butter ice-cream sandwiches for my husband’s birthday, and eating leftovers was the only thing linking the two incidents, other than sitting on my couch, in the evening, and typing at the computer. But now they are back, and I have not been near a peanut butter ice-cream sandwich today. So the only logical conclusion is that I’m clearly allergic to typing on my computer, while sitting on my couch, in the evening. So I’ve moved to the arm chair. They seem to be going away. All of which brings me to:
Tuesday, Day 2
A little rational behind the emerging birthday menu: Poland is the land of whipped cream, pastries and ice cream. Really. On every corner there is a pastry shop or bakery filled with Pącki (Polish donuts) filled with plum and strawberry preserves or pastry cream; cakes, napoleons, Viennese pastries, and basically anything else that will add inches to your waist and cellulite to your thighs. Buyer beware!
Now, married life, obviously, affords you the opportunity to spend even more time than before with your significant other. This in turn leads to the discovery of truths about one another that, you had not been aware of previously. One such thing I have recently discovered, thanks to the hoards of pastry shops, is that my husband, known from now on as Agent 007 (as he wants to be neither pictured or mentioned by name in the blog), would be content on living on two things and two things alone: whipped cream and ice-cream. He is in fact able to eat these things at any time of day, multiple times per day. Furthermore, he fully prepared to discuss the nutritional merits of these substances at length. “What’s 300 calories? Really?” I’d say, 300 calories is about 1/6 of my daily recommended intake.
I’m not going to lie, I was vaguely aware of this “problem” in our previous life (I did order a gelato cart for the wedding reception cocktail hour, after all), but I was never aware of its far reaching consequences. A typical outing with 007 includes at least one request for something with whipped cream or ice cream, sometimes both. I’m not a 90kilo man. I need boundaries. But birthdays and holidays are the free calorie free zone, as far as I’m concerned. So, in celebration of his birthday, I decided to celebrate 007 with the three things he loves most (surprisingly not babes, car-chases and guns): football (European style), whipped cream and ice cream . Although, the football part didn’t pan out because the weather sucked, the other two things went without a hitch.
007 happens to also be addicted to a particular kind of ice-cream bar call Miś Pando Classic, roughly translated Panda Bear Classic (basically chocolate dipped vanilla ice-cream, in the shape of a teddy bear, on a stick). I’m not going to lie, I googled my ass off trying to find a supplier that would send me a case for his birthday, but alas this is not America. So, I contented myself with yesterday’s Semifreddo (007 also loves the Viennese ice-cream cakes with the flully ice-cream and chocolate layers.) and the closest I was willing to attempt to an ice-cream bar - le ice-cream sandwich. For this particular occasion I made two types: PBJ & Snickerdoodle Ice-cream Sandwiches.
The great thing about these is that you can wrap them in parchment paper and keep them in your freezer for up to a week. Both recipes keep really well; I stored them in airtight containers until Friday night, when I assembled them at about midnight. The most annoying part, aside from the ice-cream melting too fast, was wrapping the assembled cookie sandwiches in parchment paper and getting it to stay. Though it totally a worked, it’s a week later, and these babies are still like new. For purposes of serving, my freezer has drawers, so I filled up the bottom drawer, and passed around introductory sandwiches to guest, telling them to help themselves to more.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice-Cream Sandwiches
I adapted this recipe from a Paula Dean recipe I found on the Food Network website, while googling for ice-cream sandwich ideas. Neither 007 nor I, are huge peanut butter eaters, especially b/c peanut butter in Poland is expensive, as are nuts in general. But I chose this recipe because many of the guests were from Canada and the States, so catering to the international crowd, I thought they could all use a taste from home. All in all I liked these cookies; they came out moist and chewy, like a good peanut butter cookie should. But I found that I made them far too small to be good vessels for the ice-cream, assembly was a hellish mess. I also found that they got too hard in the freezer and we’re just not as delicious when frozen. I would definitely recommend this as a good basic peanut butter cookie recipe, but I would try a different cookie for the ice-cream sandwich next time - something more moist and crumbly. I had to make two batches because, despite being small, the recipe yielded only enough to make 15 sandwiches.
1 cup unsweetened natural peanut butter
1 cups sugar (this is plenty; I would even say if you’re using processed peanut butter, it will be too much. My cookies came out having the perfect flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup of sugar for assembly.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls 1,5 inch balls (I'm correcting for my size problems here). Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, (check after 10, it will depend on your oven, but mine were done) remove from the oven.
Cool slightly before removing from pan.
Good Quality Strawberry Ice-cream
The Paula Dean recipe actually called for you to make your own ice-cream. But as my kitchen is essentially gadget free right now, I don’t even own my own hand held mixer, (I had two in Canada, which i donated to St. Vincent de Paul under 007's advisement, who said we’d just buy one when we got here, only to discover they are about 5 times more expensive here. Apparently, the spy expense account does not cover household appliances. Stealthy gadgets - Yes. Mixers - No.) I opted for option B: buy good ice-cream.
FYI this was a mess. Really. No matter how fast I worked, I had ice-cream everywhere, on the table, on my hands, in my hair. It was like a kindergarten craft project. My cookies were just too small. I found the easiest way to make these was ten at a time. Otherwise the ice-cream melted too quickly. I cut out parchment paper in advance to the approximate right size and labeled the back PBJ. I set out matching sets of cookies, laying them side by side, using a small teaspoon I added about ½ of a teaspoon of strawberry preserves (mine had whole strawberries in them, which was a mistake considering the size of my cookie) on the left hand cookie. Then, having placed the preserves on each left hand cookie, I took the ice-cream out of the freezer, and using a melon-baller, scooped ice-cream onto the right hand cookie, smushed the two together, wrapped the cookie sandwich, threw it in the freezer, and prayed they wouldn't look like a disgusting mess come saturday. I repeated this processed for all ten, then put the ice-cream back in the freezer and did 10 snickerdoodles in the mean time.
Snickerdoodle Ice-Cream Sandwiches
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, this Snickerdoodle recipe! I can’t get over it. It’s a week later and we’re still eating leftovers from the freezer and they are just as to die for as they were a week ago - we're not getting sick of them. I took it from the Browneyed Baker, and it makes the most beautiful melt in your mouth cookies. It’s honestly a perfect recipe. These are possibly the best cookies that have ever come out of my oven. They were so good, I kept hoping I would break a few more. The best part is that they make most delicious ice-cream sandwiches. Somehow when these baby’s are frozen, they are still moist and chewy. I can't say it enough - To die for. Drop whatever you're doing right now and make these cookies. They will change your life.
2¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, until just blended. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat. Place on chilled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. These really spread, so make sure that you give them enough space. Also make sure your parchement paper is flat, because the slightest dent will give you a misshapen cookie.
Chill the dough and cookie sheets between batches. I even put ready cookie sheets, back in the freezer just until the moment the oven was free. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Make sure you do this, or they will fall apart. Store cookies in an airtight container.
Good quality Vanilla ice-cream
This, luckily, was much simpler than the PBJ ice-cream sandwiches. Again, I cut parchment paper to size and labeled the back before starting. I found that the best way to do this was to just take a knife and spread the ice-cream on the cookie, like jam, and then place another on top, wrap it and throw it in the freezer. I found that scooping and smushing didn’t work, because the snickerdoodles were too delicate and this caused them to break.
Out of both options, this is definitely the superior ice-cream sandwich.<3