I just had an ice cream sandwich for lunch. I couldn't help myself. They were supposed to be for tonight's dessert, as we are having some of David's co-workers over for dinner. Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies (aptly christened by her neighbor who believes one of these a day are enough to bring about peace) are perfect on their own. Indeed, these cookies have set the bar high for me when it comes to the characteristics I admire in a cookie. Their crumbly texture is still tender, and the chunks of top quality chocolate take center stage amongst the other few ingredients. I'm guess I'm channeling my inner Ina Garten by encouraging you to use "the best chocolate you can get your hands on." And, to top these cookies with homemade vanilla bean ice cream-- my, I think I now know what nirvana should taste like!
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 1999
2 cups half and half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To prepare custard: Place 1 cup of chilled whipping cream into a large bowl and place a mesh strainer over bowl. Set aside. Pour half and half into heavy medium saucepan. Add sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil, stirring to ensure sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; steep 30 minutes. Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl to blend well. Gradually whisk warmed half and half into yolk mixture. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 4 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat. Pour into mesh strainer so the entire mixture is in the same bowl as the chilled whipping cream. Add vanilla extract. Remove vanilla bean, rinse it and save for another use. *Note: I keep the used vanilla beans in a large canister of sugar to make vanilla sugar, which I then use for subsequent batches of vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate the custard thoroughly, overnght is preferable.Using ice cream maker, process custard until firm, following manufacturer's instructions. Your ice cream should have doubled in volume. Transfer to container; cover and freeze.
Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies
"From My Home To Yours"
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Makes about 36 cookies
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
To make Ice Cream Sandwiches: Do I really even need to tell you?! Grab a cookie, top with a huge scoop of ice cream and place a second cookie on top, creating a sandwich. Smush the top cookie down into the scoop of ice cream and allow yourself to be transported to a time when you clamored down the street after the ice cream truck.