Cookies and ice cream - not just for children

Americans love all sorts of cookies with ice cream. The fact that a cookie might be rich only adds to the pleasure.

ice cream sundae 88  (photo credit: )
ice cream sundae 88
(photo credit: )
Cookies and ice cream might sound like a treat for children, yet Parisian pastry chefs have long been turning this pair into elegant desserts like filled tulips (crisp, flower-shaped cookie cups) garnished with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. They also pipe a similar light cookie batter into small finger-shaped "langues de chat" (cats' tongues) cookies or roll the still-warm cookies into thin "cigarettes" and use them to adorn ice cream desserts. Thin wafer cookies are also popular French partners for ice cream, as are sweet crunchy meringues. For the French taste, light, delicate cookies provide the perfect balance for smooth, luscious ice cream. A rich, thick butter cookie is considered "too heavy." Dwellers of the British Isles aren't concerned with such distinctions. The makers of Walkers Scottish shortbread recommend their thick, buttery oblong cookies as an accompaniment for ice cream. Even the shortbread crumbs make a tasty topping. In fact, some companies sell shortbread crumbs so people can use them in desserts instead of having to crumble their own cookies. Americans love all sorts of cookies with ice cream. The fact that a cookie might be rich only adds to the pleasure. Chef Jason Shaeffer and pastry chef Daphne Higa transform the kids' favorite pair into a scrumptious adult dessert called simply "cookies and cream" on the menu of 1500 Ocean at the Del Coronado Hotel in Coronado, California. It comes as a bowl with scoops of fresh-made vanilla, chocolate-cinnamon and caramel ice creams sprinkled with crumbled chocolate cookies and served with chocolate chip cookies. The dark chocolate cookie crumbs blend into the soft ice cream, giving each mouthful a subtle accent. At home, this style of dessert is easy to make as long as you have top quality ice cream and fine cookies - and make sure the ice cream isn't too hard. Americans like cookies and ice cream so much that some cooks make cookie dough ice cream by mixing pieces of unbaked cookie dough with vanilla ice cream. Others simply stir baked cookie crumbs into ice cream and freeze it for a few minutes so the crumbs become embedded in the ice cream. Cookie crumbs are also the foundation for a baker's basic - the crumb crust, used for chilled and frozen desserts. Authors Linda West Eckhardt and Diane Collingwood Butts, who wrote Dessert in Half the Time, use shortbread cookies to make their rich crust and note that "nothing is easier than whizzing up crumbs in the food processor, drizzling them with butter, and pressing them into a pie pan." When the weather is hot, this no-bake crust is the ideal base for a festive dessert. Yet speed and convenience is not the only reason to make crumb crusts. My friend Susan G. Purdy, author of As Easy as Pie, wrote that "They are best for freezer pies because frozen crumbs are not quite as brittle or hard to cut as frozen pastry." To make the crust, you can use all sorts of cookies, packaged or homemade, whether vanilla, chocolate or nut-flavored. Add ground nuts if you like, or a little sugar for a sweeter crust. Then fill the crust with any ice cream you like. Purdy makes a dessert called frozen mud pie from a chocolate wafer crumb crust filled with coffee ice cream, topped with pecans and served with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Even when made with light ice cream and served without the sauce or the whipped cream, such a dessert is a treat. Whether you're using cookie crumbs as sprinkles or to make a pie, mixing and matching cookies with different ice creams and nuts or fruit is an easy way to come up with a variety of summertime sweets. Sometimes I make an ice cream sundae pie and spoon chocolate or vanilla ice cream into a chocolate cookie crust, cover it with toasted sliced almonds, freeze it and serve it drizzled lightly with fudge sauce. Or I top a vanilla ice cream pie in a pecan cookie crust with sliced peaches or other fruit at serving time, then brush the fruit with melted jam, which gives it a shiny glaze like a fancy French tart. CHOCOLATE-VANILLA-PECAN SUNDAE PIE This pie has a chocolate cookie and pecan crust and a vanilla ice cream filling topped with toasted pecans and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Use chocolate wafers or simple chocolate or vanilla cookies to make the crust. You can substitute coffee, chocolate or nut ice cream for the vanilla, or walnuts or almonds for the pecans. To make this a banana split pie, add a sliced banana before drizzling the sauce. 110 gr. chocolate wafers, to make 3⁄4 cup crumbs 1⁄4 cup ground pecans 50 to 60 gr. (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled 9 pecan halves 3 cups vanilla ice cream, or half vanilla and half chocolate 85 gr. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. whipping cream or milk Grind cookies in a food processor to fairly fine crumbs; measure 3⁄4 cup. Transfer measured crumbs to a medium bowl. Add ground pecans and melted butter; mix lightly with a fork. Lightly pat mixture in even layer in an 8 or 9-inch pie pan, using a fork, up to rim of pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 175 C. Toast pecan halves in a small, shallow baking pan in oven 7 minutes. Remove and cool. Slightly soften ice cream in refrigerator until spreadable. Spoon into crust in pie pan, mounding ice cream slightly towards center and quickly spreading it smooth. Freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Cover if not serving immediately. Melt chocolate in cream in a small heatproof bowl over nearly simmering water. Remove from water; stir until smooth. Cool sauce to room temperature. Drizzle in thin lines over pie. Set toasted pecans on pie at equal intervals near edge and 1 in center; press so they adhere. Serve immediately; or freeze about 15 minutes or until sauce is very firm, then cover and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Faye Levy is the author of Sensational Chocolate.