Introduction: Hot Cross Bun Icecream Sandwiches

About: I play with yarn, food and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on. I have way too much time on my hands.

I initially got the idea for this easter dessert on here, but obviously I had to doctor around with the recipes involved. I didn't have an ice cream maker at hand, and still wanted a creamy and delicious icecream filling. 
I also dislike dried fruit in my ice cream, so I put the raisins in the cookie instead and came up with the cookie crumb icecream as filling. This also takes care of all the "waste" cookie cuttings.

Please leave yourself plenty of time to prepare this dessert - it's not a last minute recipe, but worth the extra effort. As a benefit, the effort just before plating up is very small, leaving you free to enjoy your sunday lunch.

Step 1: Time Schedule

Obviously there are many solutions to how this dessert can work out, and by all means, try starting it the night before with the help of a flash freezer, and three different alarm calls at 2am, 4am and 6am. However, the below schedule provides a starting point if you want to make the sandwiches in a stress-free manner and using standard home equipment.

2 days before serving: Prepare icecream custard. Chill overnight.
1 day before serving: Bake and trim cookies. Freeze icecream mix until solid.
min. 6h before serving (in the morning on the day of serving): Blend and mix icecream with cookie crumbs, refreeze
1 hour before serving: Assemble and trim sandwiches, refreeze for stability.
15 min before serving (optional step): Plate up the decorations.

Step 2: Preparing the Icecream Custard

Break 3 eggs and 2 yolks, 1/2tsp allspice, 1tsp cinnamon and 1 cup caster sugar in a pyrex bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water on the hob and whisk until thick and pale.
I got very anxious about this instruction, because I thought I would miss the point, but it's really rather obvious. The mix turns from an omelette batter consistency to a thick mix not unlike marshmallow fluff. Remove from the heat and beat further until cool.
Whisk 2 cups of double cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold through the egg mixture. Refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight. 

Step 3: The Cookies

These are good enough to enjoy on their own. They're crispy on the edges, fluffy and light on the inside, and full of zest and raisin flavour.
  • Cream 170g (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter together with 1 1/2 cups caster sugar until pale and fluffy and whisk in 2 eggs.
  • Stir together 3 cups plain flour, the zest of 1 orange, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the egg/sugar/butter, alternating between small portions of the dry ingredients and 2/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a dash of lemon juice). 
  • Fold in 1 cup raisins.
  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC
  • Cover baking sheets in greaseproof paper and spread heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into circles of about 8cm/3in in diameter. The cookies will spread when baked, so leave plenty of space in between dough circles
  • Mix 2 tbsp of plain flour with 2tbsp of cold water to a thick paste, and spoon into a piping bag with a small round nozzle (or a sandwich bag with a 2mm corner cut off). Pipe crosses onto half the cookies.
  • Bake until golden and risen. In my oven, this took 11 minutes per batch, but your mileage may vary.
Make the cookies at least the day before planning to serve the sandwiches. They keep well in an airtight container, so you could make them up to three days in advance.

Step 4: Trimming the Cookies

While the cookies are still warm from the oven, trim them with a 3in/7.5cm cookie cutter. Keep the trimmings (ok, you can nibble on a few, but please keep the rest!).

Step 5: Freezing the Icecream

  • When completely cooled down, pour the custard into a shallow dish, cover with clingfilm and freeze until solid.
  • Put the leftover cookie bits into the blender, and blend to coarse crumbs.
  • Remove the icecream from the trays, blend until smooth and creamy (it might look a little bit too liquid), and retransfer into the shallow dish. Stir the cookie crumbs through the icecream, and freeze again, until half an hour before serving, but for at least 6 hours.

Step 6: Assemble the Sandwiches- Prep

Homemade icecream melts much more quickly than storebought icecream, and doesn't keep its shape as well, because it hasn't been whipped with lots of stabilisers. This means you don't have much time once out of the freezer and will need to prepare this swiftly.
  • Have all your tools (cookie cutter, spatula/palet knife, baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper) ready, have plenty of space on the surfaces cleared, and don't attempt to cook another dish that needs your attention at the same time. 
This might be obvious for everyone else, but I found myself balancing frozen trays of icecream while searching for the cookies that I had hidden somewhere from my family and trying to remove hot dishes from the working space. All of this in a cute vintage dress and no apron. Oh, and the cookie cutter I had used for the cookies was in the dishwasher. Fail.

Don't let this be you.

Step 7: Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Place the cookies without crosses face down on a baking sheet covered with baking paper
  • Cut out rounds of the ice cream using the same cutter that you used for the cookies. 
  • Place ice cream on cookie bottoms. 
  • Top ice cream with cookies with crosses as sandwich covers, and press down gently.
  • Cover tray with clingfilm and refreeze for 30minutes.
  • Gently trim the entire sandwich with the cookie cutter to even out the edges.

Step 8: Presentation

I served the sandwiches as dessert part of an easter dinner menu, and thus had them on plates. These sandwiches would also be very suitable for just handing out in the afternoon, and eating without sitting down or using any cutlery.

For my dessert, I filletted two oranges, and mixed the fillets with 2 tbsp of marsala (Grand Marnier would also be nice) and a pinch of allspice.
I had made 8 icecream sandwiches, and had 8 cookies leftover, as well as half a tray of icecream (not a real problem in my eyes).

For presentation, I used two smaller cookie cutters, and cut out 6cm rounds of icecream and 4cm rounds of cookie, so all the flavours could be sampled individually, as well as together. They were very well received, and even though we had a lot of food beforehand, everyone scraped their plates clean.

Thanks to Jason for alternately taking pictures and whipping/mixing/measuring/trimming things to my commando. It would have been even more chaotic without you :-)