A “semla” is a typical Swedish pastry – a soft, sweet cardamom scented wheat bun, filled with almond paste, whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar – eaten first and foremost on Fat Tuesday, which happens to be February 28th this year. And you’ve seen it on my blog before. The past couple of years, a number of semla hybrids have been emerging in Sweden – a semla wrap, princess cake semla, semla cake, semla smoothie (!) .. I think you get the idea.
These delicious ice cream sandwiches consist of a heavenly cardamom ice cream swirled with almond paste, pressed between two crunchy, yet soft cookies. It’s important to get the texture of the cookie right, or the ice cream will be pressed out on the sides when you take a bite.
I’ve been thinking about making this ice cream for a while, but putting it between two cookies was pretty much a last minute decision. A good decision if I may say so. It has taken me a couple of weeks just to get back to thinking about ideas for the blog, but here it is, finally! So what’s happened since my last update? Except for all the tax papers and VAT return stuff – well, I’ve been doing some really fun freelance work and it’s taken up most of my time, hence the lack of updates here. I’ve also gotten myself a little studio space which I’m so excited about! It’s really tiny, but I’m used to working in small spaces so I think it’ll be perfect for me. Working from home has a lot of advantages but it also comes with quite a few disadvantages. I can’t WAIT to move in there in a couple of weeks time, and to get out of the house more often. Right now I’m looking for the perfect rustic table for the studio (because I obviously need more, I only have FOUR at home). So maybe next time I post, the photos will be from my little studio.. Hopefully it won’t be that long until my next post!
SEMLA ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Makes 10-12 small ice cream sandwiches
-If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a freezer container and put in the freezer. When partially frozen (after 2-3 of hours), take it out and whip it with an electric mixer to break up the ice crystals. Repeat 3-4 of times during the freezing process. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. It won’t be exactly the same as when you use a machine for churning but it’ll still be delicious!
-The cookie recipe makes about 24-26 cookies, if you re-roll the leftover dough.
CARDAMOM ICE CREAM
- 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
- 200 ml (3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp.) milk, 3% fat
- 90 g (1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp.) demerara sugar
- pinch of salt
- 300 ml (1 1/4 cup) heavy cream, 35-40% fat
- 3 large egg yolks
- 100 g (3/4 cup) whole organic almonds
- 2 tbsp. demerara sugar
- 4-5 tbsp. water or milk
- pinch of salt
- 165 g (1 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp) all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 60 g (1/2 stick) softened butter
- 70 g (1/3 cup) demerara sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla powder
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Grind the cardamom seeds finely in a mortar and pestle. Put the cardamom in a saucepan together with milk, sugar and salt. Let mixture come to a boil, then remove from heat and put a lid on the pan. Let steep for 30 minutes.
- Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a strainer inside. Keep this close while you go through the next steps.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Reheat the milk mixture over medium heat. Slowly pour the milk over the egg yolks while whisking – this is to temper the yolks and prevent them from curdling in the next step.
- Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the pan. Return the pan to the stove and cook over low heat while stirring constantly until mixture thickens. The mixture is done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain the thickened egg-milk mixture into the bowl with the cream. Stir until combined. If you wish to speed things up a little, put the bowl in an ice bath and stir until cool. Cover the bowl and store in fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool.
- Put the toasted almonds, sugar and water (start with the smaller amount) in a blender or food processor and process until fairly smooth but some small bits of almonds remain.
ICE CREAM, CONTINUED
- Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker, according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
- When the ice cream is soft serve consistency, swirl in the almond paste.
- Transfer ice cream to an approximately 30 x 30 cm freezer container covered with wax paper. Smooth the top with a spatula, then loosely cover the surface of the ice cream with wax paper and freeze until almost solid, about 2-4 hours.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until a dough forms. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly flour your work surface, and roll the dough out thinly, about 5 mm thick. Use a 6 cm (2.3 inch) cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Re-roll dough if needed.
- Put the rounds on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges start to brown slightly. Let cool completely.
- If the ice cream has been stored in the freezer for longer than 3-4 hours, you might need to leave it at room temperature for a few minutes to soften a little bit.
- Use a 6 cm cutter to cut out rounds of ice cream – or simply scoop some of the ice cream and place between two cookies. Put the sandwiches in a freezer container and freeze for another hour or so before serving. Dust with powdered sugar.