July 30, 2012

Pistachio tuile ice cream sandwiches

It's been such a hot, dry summer that all I seem to think about lately are ice cream and other ice-cold treats.  In the last couple of months, I've tried my hand at homemade ice cream and made ice cream cake, tartufo and ice cream pops, popsicles, and even crepes so I could stuff them with ice cream.  I can't seem to stop there.  Today, it's time for a quick ice cream sandwich.
I made pistachio tuiles - those thin, crisp cookies that get their name from  classic curved shape (if you choose to form them that way) that resembles antique French roof tiles.  They're sometimes called lace cookies, referring to their delicate appearance.  The last time I made this type of cookie, they were the very delicious almond-butterscotch tuiles (still my favorite thus far when it comes to tuiles), which I shaped into bowls, plates and other shapes to hold and serve with ice cream.  This recipe features pistachios and I cut the tuiles with round cutters while they were still warm from the oven to surround ice cream rounds.  I used vanilla ice cream and mint chocolate chip gelato but there are no rules other than to use what you like.
These tuiles have a caramelized pistachio flavor.  When fully cooled, they are crispy like a thin wafer and act as a great accompaniment with creamy ice cream.  Using them for ice cream sandwiches changes their texture completely; the moisture turns the cookies soft and slightly chewy.  These cookies are so thin that they take nothing away from the ice cream, only leaving you with not only something convenient to hold the ice cream between but also a lingering bite of nuttiness to go with your ice cream.  I really like the idea of using thin cookies for an ice cream sandwich and tuiles are a nice change up from other more "typical" cookies. 

Now, I have to admit that shaping/cutting the tuiles as well as cutting out rounds of ice cream may not be something you have time or want to do.  In that case, simply scoop some ice cream into a dish and serve the cooled tuiles, unshaped, alongside.
I like to spread some ice cream on top of the tuile and eat it together, the way you might eat ice cream with salty potato chips (I know I'm not the only person who does that!).  Tuile batters, on their own, are very quick and easy to put together.  It's a great way to dress up some store-bought ice cream.

Tuile batters are very easy to put together and only require a few ingredients.  Most of the work is in shaping the cookies after baking if you choose to do so. 

I think the most work involved in making the batter for these pistachio tuiles was grinding up the pistachios.  It calls for the food processor to get the nuts to a fairly fine texture.  Since I made half a recipe, I only needed to grind 1/4 cup of nuts.  This is when I remembered that I have an immersion blender that I haven't used in years.  It came with a chopping attachment that's perfect for the job.  I finally took it out and, luckily, it still worked and I plan to use it a lot more often for these small jobs going forward!
The batter is simply whisked together.  For my small batch, I put 1 1/2 egg whites in a fairly small bowl.  Whisk in 1/3 cup sugar and a pinch of salt until the sugar dissolves. 
Then, whisk in 2 tablespoons melted but cooled butter and just 1 tablespoon of flour.  Finally, stir in the chopped pistachios.
And the batter is done and ready to be used.
Depending on what size cookie you want, drop 1 to 2 teaspoon fulls of batter onto a lined baking sheet.  Use the back of the spoon to spread it out to a round.  They will spread a bit further when baking so leave about 2 inches of space between the batter.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until they are lightly golden color.
I think the cookies are just fine they way they come out of the oven and served with ice cream.  If you want to shape or cut the tuiles into rounds, do so after they've cooled in the baking pan for about 30 seconds.  You can place the still warm and pliable cookies, using an offset spatula, over a wooden spoon handle to make the classic tile shape or mold it on top of the back of muffin cups to make bowls.  If the cookies firm up too quickly, you can pop it back in the oven for 30 seconds and they will be pliable again.
To cut rounds of ice cream sandwiches, pack some slightly softened ice cream onto a cold baking sheet (place the pan in the freezer for a while).  I only made a few and given I'm not very patient with details, didn't do a very neat job of it. 
Then you can put the little sandwiches together.  Wrap them in plastic wrap to firm back up in the freezer.
My non-nut-loving son liked these, particularly with ice cream.  I think we're usually okay when we don't talk about the nuts too much and just let the taste take over...


Pistachio tuile ice cream sandwiches
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- Makes roughly 3 dozen pistachio tuile rounds (but quantity depends on the size you make) -

2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped in a food processor
Ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. 

Whisk sugar, egg whites, and salt together in a bowl until sugar dissolves.  Whisk in the cooled butter, then flour.  Stir in pistachios.

Drop 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of batter onto baking sheet.  Use the back of the spoon to gently spread the batter out to about 2 inches wide.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden. 

Remove the baking sheet and let cookies cool for about 15-30 seconds.  Cut the still-warm cookies with a 2 inch round cookie or biscuit cutter.  Remove scraps around the cookie, let cool, and transfer the cookie rounds to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter (leftover batter can also be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days to bake later).

Place a small baking sheet or baking pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Pack and evenly spread ice cream of your choice onto a corner of the pan.  Cut ice cream rounds with the same cookie cutter used for the tuiles.  Stack ice cream between two tuile rounds.  Wrap ice cream sandwiches with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm up before eating.

Alternatives: You can make smaller cookies (use 1 teaspoon batter) and leave them un-cut to serve with ice cream.  Or you could mold them into the classic curved "tuile" shape.  To do so, prop up a wooden spoon so that it's raised slightly off the surface.  Wrap warm tuiles (use an offset spatula to remove them from the baking sheet) around the handle to form the tuile shape.  If cookies were larger, you could mold it around a rolling pin.  To make bowls or cups to hold ice cream, you can mold the warm tuiles over the back of muffin tins or teacups.  Make your tuiles larger if you plan to do that.

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