Oatmeal Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches (Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream #54)

23 03 2013

Remember my friends Pete and Bec?  The ones who I had over for a farewell dinner and Tim Tam Ice Cream Sandwiches before they moved back to Australia?  Well I didn’t mention that the evening they were over, they brought with them two huge bags of groceries and pantry items that they couldn’t finish up and otherwise would have tossed.  Two huge goodie bags full of things like spring roll wrappers, olive oil, shredded coconut, and white chocolate chips.  (Thanks guys!  The Official Taster and I are slowly working through the lot.)  One of the most curious items I found in the bags was a spice jar containing Saigon Cinnamon.  This was new to me.


Saigon cinnamon

After some quick poking around on Google, I learned there are four main varieties of “cinnamon”.   Ceylon cinnamon is considered the “true” cinnamon.  The three other varieties, Indonesian cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, and Saigon cinnamon, are actually from a related plant called cassia.  Ceylon cinnamon is the most expensive of the four.  But when it comes to flavour and aroma, it’s Saigon cinnamon that really packs a punch.

When I compared my “regular” cinnamon (unspecified variety, but most likely Indonesian cinnamon, as it is purportedly the cheapest and most common variety of cinnamon in North America) with the Saigon cinnamon, the Saigon variety was, by far, more aromatic and spicy.  It had a delightful burn on the tongue, like I had just popped a couple of cinnamon hearts into my mouth.

It was rather timely that I received an email from a blog reader last week suggesting I make cinnamon ice cream.  Even better, I thought I would bake a batch of oatmeal cookies and assemble some Oatmeal Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches.

The Oatmeal Cookie recipe below is from All Recipes, with a reduction in the total amount of sugar, since I find most cookie recipes are too sweet.  The cookies themselves are rather understated, which is fine for ice cream sandwiches since I want the ice cream to be the star of the show.  If you are making just the cookies (and not ice cream sandwiches), I would suggest adding a cup of raisins and/or chopped nuts for a bit more texture and interest.  The ice cream recipe is pretty much just a basic custard recipe with a couple teaspoons of Saigon cinnamon and some vanilla for depth – super easy.

Do you best to track down Saigon cinnamon — it’s amazingly fragrant, sweet and spicy at the same time.  It brings the ice cream to life.  If you can’t find Saigon cinnamon, regular cinnamon will do too, but use 1-1/2 teaspoons for the cookies and 3 teaspoons for the ice cream.

Depending on how thick or thin you spread your ice cream, you may or may not have some leftover cookies.  I ended up making ten ice cream sandwiches, each with a good, thick layer of cinnamon ice cream.  The ten extra cookies are stashed in a top secret location, away from the Official Taster.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the Oatmeal Cookies (Slightly adapted from All Recipes)

(Makes about 30 single 2-1/2″ cookies.  If you are making sandwiches, you will have some leftover cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1 cup butter
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)

For the Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream (Makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
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Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream (#32)

18 10 2012

After a glorious extended summer with warm days and sunshine through to early October, the rains have hit.  Raincouver is back and with a vengeance — I think it’ll probably be raining through to April.

Vancouver weather forecast

Environment Canada reports of rain, rain, rain for the entire week to come…

It’s time to hunker down.  A cozy dinner with friends is a great start… especially when my dad is cooking!

My dad is an amazing cook, and he’s always eager to host new guests who love food as much as he does.  Last Sunday, five friends joined the Official Taster, my family, and I for an amazing dinner.  We ate our little hearts out while it poured rain outside:

Home Smoked Salmon Crostini | Pulled Pork Crostini

Grilled Salmon | Grilled Romaine | Potato & Avocado Salad

Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed With Dried Apples, Apricot & Plums

Grilled Pork Ribs

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream

dinner with friends

Gathered around the table for one of many courses!

The ice cream was, of course, my contribution for the evening.  The recipe is based on Week #5’s Ultra Decadent Chocolate Ice Cream recipe, with the addition of some cinnamon, vanilla, and warming cayenne.  I’ve made this super simple recipe about a dozen times now and it’s definitely one of my favourites.  The cayenne gives the ice cream just that little bit of kick to warm you up when there’s a damp chill in the air.   Enjoy, and stay dry out there!!

Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream (makes about 1.25 L)

2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and sugar.
  2. Whisk in the eggs.
  3. Very slowly, whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half, about half a cup at a time.  It should start off like a chocolate paste, then end up like to thick chocolate syrup.
  4. Add the cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  6. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
  7. Cool and chill overnight in the fridge.
  8. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
spicy mexican chocolate ice cream

The Official Taster says: “Make it again, Sam!”

Apple Pie Ice Cream (#29)

27 09 2012

A few weekends ago, my parents, sister, and I went off on our annual wine tasting trip to the Okanagan.  I find mid-September — after Labour Day and before the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival — to be the best time to visit.  The roads are quiet, there are no insane crowds, fruits and veggies are at their prime, and the fall sunshine is warm and golden.  The place is beautiful.

This year, we focused on wineries on the Naramata bench.  Tasting was, of course, our main focus, but I’d have to say that our most delightful stop was at Dream Acres, a small apple orchard beside Lake Breeze Winery.  We were drawn to Dream Acres’ road side fruit and jam stand and the gala apple trees that were growing right next to it — it was the cutest set up and the trees were absolutely laden with apples.  The owner just happened to be outside during our visit and invited us to pick some apples off his trees.  Not the galas though, these are my grand kids’ trees and they’d kill me if I let you pick off them!  He led us to his McIntosh grove instead, where we excitedly picked a couple dozen apples.  They were truly the most amazing, juicy apples I have ever tasted, and just 30 cents a pound to boot!

apple tree

McIntosh apples at Green Acres Orchard, Naramata BC

apple tree

Happy customers!

The apples just begged to be made into pie, but since I’m not in the business of making pie, Apple Pie Ice Cream it is then — the first of several ice cream recipes celebrating the tastes of fall!

This recipe involves pan frying apples with some cinnamon, sugar, and other warming spices, and then churning the fruit into a luscious vanilla ice cream base.  (I used the little McIntoshes, along with some Galas and Jonagolds I picked up in Keremeos on our way home.)  Don’t be scared by the intensity of spices if you sneak a taste of the apples before churning it into the vanilla ice cream.  When mixed together, the flavour mellows and you have a wonderfully balanced combination of sweet and spice.  Think apple pie à la mode (sans pie crust, since I’ve never been a huge fan of crust).  It’s a perfect dessert for those first days of fall.

Apple Pie Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream:

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon Spiced Apples:

3 cups finely chopped apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of sea salt

For the Ice Cream:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  2. Add 2 cups of the half-and-half cream.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half to stop the cooking.  Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.  Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Chill overnight in the fridge.

For the Cinnamon Spiced Apples:

  1. While the ice cream is chilling, prepare the cinnamon spiced apples.
  2. Toss the apples with the lemon juice.
  3. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  4. Add the apples, sugar, and spices.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, cool, and chill overnight in the fridge.

To Finish:

  1. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the final stages of churning, add the cinnamon spiced apples and churn to distribute throughout the ice cream.
apple pie ice cream

The Official Taster was out of town at a conference this week, so my sister fulfilled the role of Guest Taster.   The Guest Taster says: “HOLY SH*T, this is gooooood ice cream!!!”

Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream (#26)

6 09 2012

Week #26!  This is the halfway mark in my year of ice cream making!  I’m pleased to report that I’ve only gained 3 lbs so far.  Bring on another 26 weeks.  I’m ready.

This week’s recipe is inspired by a dish originating from Hungary: szilvás gombóc, plum dumplings rolled in buttery cinnamon sugar bread crumbs.  I first learned of this dish from my co-worker Lisa, who travelled to Hungary some years ago, where she had authentic szilvás gombóc and — even better — szilvás gombóc flavoured ice cream.  After hearing about this, I endeavoured to try making both.

I came across Dog Hill Kitchen’s recipe for szilvás gombóc and thought I’d give it a try — after all, the recipe originates from someone’s Hungarian great-grandmother, so surely it must be authentic!

Dough for Hungarian plum dumplings

Mix together flour, mashed potato, and egg.  This is almost like making a gnocchi dough.

Italian prune plums and cinnamon sugar

Slice open Italian prune plums and fill the centres with cinnamon sugar.

Hungarian plum dumpling

Roll or pat a portion of the dough into the circle and place the cinnamon sugar filled plum in the centre.

Hungarian plum dumplings

Form the dough around the plum and pinch the top together. These will be giant dumplings!  Cook them for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

While the dumplings are cooking, melt some butter, and add some breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and sugar.

Cinnamon sugar buttered breadcrumbs

Cook until golden brown and fragrant.

Hungarian plum dumplings

When the dumplings are cooked, drain well with a slotted spoon, and roll each one in the buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs.

Hungarian plum dumpling

The dumpling sliced open! Yum!

Hungarian plum dumplings

Even better: if you use perfectly ripe Italian prune plums, the dumplings will be filled with juicy plum goodness!

Now, how to capture the taste of plum dumplings in ice cream?  I decided the best method was to cook Italian prune plums with some cinnamon and sugar until they were thick and saucy and then swirl the compote, along with some buttery cinnamon sugar breadcrumbs,  into a delicate vanilla ice cream.  The results?  AMAZING.  This recipe is currently ranked among my Top 3 ice cream recipes (Mango Ice Cream with Chili Sea Salt and Black Forest Ice Cream being my two other current favourites).  The prune plums cook down to a gorgeous fuchsia colour and the breadcrumbs add a delightful sweet crunch to the ice cream.  Élvez!  Enjoy!

Hungarian Plum Dumpling Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
3 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Plum Compote

2 1/2 cups diced Italian prune plums
1/3 c white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons white sugar

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