Honestly, I can’t stand ice cream sandwiches. I think a wet cookie is absolutely repulsive. I don’t even like dipping my cookies in milk. So, naturally, I would bring to you an ice cream sandwich recipe today… naturally. But this is a different kind of ice cream sandwich – different cookie, different ice cream. And we’re in the thick of summer, after all – the best time for ice cream.
I actually dreamed up this recipe while I was out in my garden pruning (yes, pruning) my unruly lemon thyme. She had become so lush and beautiful, but the pot hath overflowed! I thought, what could I possibly do with all of this lemon thyme? I could make ice cream, of course! In a previous post I made Bay Leaf Ice Cream, which was a hit among family and friends. So, I decided to give this “herbal” ice cream kick another go.
I chose the Honey Lemon Shortbread cookie for the sandwich because I thought the texture of the cookie would hold up well against my fear for “the sog,” as I like to call it. And since I used honey in this recipe, the end result is a much more moist shortbread cookie.
This post is kind of a two-for-one special because the ice cream and the cookie are both good as stand alone desserts. But when paired together, it’s the best ever ice cream sandwich! Seriously. Enjoy!
Honey Lemon Shortbread with Lemon Thyme Ice Cream
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup superfine sugar
1 stick + 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the dry ingredients together and set them aside. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the dry ingredients, honey and lemon zest. Mix until just combined. The mixture will be quite dry and crumbly at this point.
Form the dough into a ball and divide it in half. (It’s easier to work with this amount at a time.) Dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. (The honey will turn this dough into a softer, cookie-like consistency, but the flour from dusting turns it back into more of a shortbread-type cookie.) Roll out dough to a 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness, then cut as desired and prick the tops with a fork. (I used a 2 1/2-inch scalloped round. You could also roll the dough into a log and slice the cookies to the desired thickness.) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 20-25 minutes or until pale golden.
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
8-10 sprigs lemon thyme
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
Heat the milk, cream and sprigs of lemon thyme in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Watch this mixture carefully so it doesn’t scorch. Bring it up to a low boil and remove from heat. Cover, and allow the sprigs to steep in the hot milk mixture for 20 minutes.
In a large, non-reactive mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and cornstarch, whisking together until thoroughly blended.
When the lemon thyme sprigs are finished steeping, remove them from the milk. Slowly and carefully temper the eggs by pouring in the milk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until all has been incorporated into the egg mixture. (If the eggs scramble at this point, run the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
Return the custard base to the saucepan and set over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Be sure to make contact with the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching or scrambling the eggs. Heat custard until it thickens (coats the back of a spoon) and just begins to bubble. Remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla bean paste.
Pour custard into a bowl using a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in fresh lemon thyme leaves. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes, then refrigerate the custard 3 hours or overnight (preferable).
When you’re ready to churn the custard (after freezing the ice cream bowl), follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. (Typically, you will have to churn the custard for 20-30 minutes for this amount.) Pop it back in the freezer for a couple of hours before serving.
How to assemble The Best Ever Ice Cream Sandwich:
Make sure your ice cream has hardened completely. If it is still pretty soft, you will have a major mess on your hands. Take about 1/3 cup of the ice cream and spread on the bottom cookie. Then top with the other cookie and enjoy!