Having dabbled once or twice in the construction of the humble iced sandwich I've always wondered: what makes the perfect cookie base? Presumably you want something relatively crispy so that you don't end up with a handful of soggy mess. But by the same token, make it too crunchy and you'll press all that creamed, icy goodness to the sides. Ergo, mess...
What got me thinking about this handy dessert was a recipe for rye gingerbread cookies, which had been gesticulating wildly at the top of my to-do list for quite some time. And in that happy coincidence of having just whipped up some strawberry rhubarb jam and a tub of Kitty's most excellent lemon-scented vanilla ice cream, it seemed only right to throw all three things together.
Ginger and rhubarb are a great combo, here being complimented perfectly by the luscious, lemon-infused cream. The biscuits held their crunch without causing havoc structurally, and while I perhaps should have made the sandwiches a tad thinner for that all-in-one bite, I don't think I'd ever decry a delicious mess. Not bad, little biscuit, not bad at all...
GINGERBREAD, RHUBARB & VANILLA ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
For the rhubarb strawberry jam:
- 480 g rhubarb, diced
- 100 g strawberries, sliced
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 5 rose geranium leaves
- 350 g sugar
Place the rhubarb, strawberries and rose geranium in a pan and stew over medium heat until soft. Remove the geranium leaves and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Gradually add the sugar—stirring between each addition to dissolve—then boil rapidly for 10-20 minutes, until setting point is reached. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.
For the rye gingerbread cookies (adapted from this recipe by Scandi Foodie):
- 125 g butter
- 85 g raw sugar
- 100 g treacle
- 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 2 tsp ginger, ground
- ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
- ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- ½ tsp clove, ground
- 1 egg
- 250 g rye flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Place the butter, sugar, treacle and spices in a small pan over medium heat, bring to a boil and then leave to cool.
In a separate bowl, combine the rye and bicarbonate of soda.
Once the treacle mixture has cooled, add the egg and then fold through the dry ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough until 2-3-mm thick and cut your desired shapes. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper and bake at 200°C for around 8 minutes, until just beginning to colour. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
To assemble the sandwiches:
For each sandwich, place a cookie bottom-side facing up in a suitably-sized pastry ring or cookie cutter (you can construct the sandwiches without the rings if you prefer). Add a tablespoonful of softened vanilla ice cream* and spread to cover the cookie surface. Place a teaspoonful of strawberry rhubarb jam in the centre and then cover with ice cream so that it reaches to just below the top of ring. Finish with a second cookie (bottom-side down), wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for ~30 minutes, until firm.
** I used Kitty Travers' vanilla ice cream scented with citrus, whose recipe can be found in Five Quarters by Rachel Roddy.
** The jam and biscuits are, of course, perfectly delicious in their own right and can be enjoyed on toast and with tea, respectively, if you're not up for the full sanger.