When I was little my sister and used to spend school holidays at my maternal grandmother’s bungalow in Wallonia. It took hours to drive there but it was worth the trip because she lived on the outskirts of a golf course; in the evenings we would simply walk across the garden, through a patch of forest, and out onto the green, where we played amongst the sprinklers’ water jets like they were fountains. It was a good childhood.
The best part was hearing the jolly tune of the ice cream van as he drove into our street. Bonne-mamie was not the type to spoil us but she never denied us an ice cream. Hearing our accents when we spoke French like only Flemish people do, he asked us where we from. ‘Ursel!’ we cried out proudly. Of course he didn’t where that was; it’s a teensy village in Flanders. ‘Could you come and give us ice creams there?’ Oh the naivety of children.
My favourite flavour was pistachio and espresso. Odd choices for a child; most would choose vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I never knew why I liked them; I just did, and that was good enough for me. I still do, in fact.
Ice Cream Sandwiches: Espresso Biscuits and Pistachio Ice Cream
For the espresso biscuits:
300g (1.5 packed cups) spelt flour
2 heaped tbsp powdered stevia
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g (1/2 cup) vegan butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
a strong cup of espresso (i.e. espresso cup-sized, not US measures cup-sized)
Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cube the vegan butter and add it to the dry ingredients, rubbing them all together using the pads of your fingertips. The mixture should begin to resemble wet sand.
Add in the espresso and knead together with your hands. Tip onto a clean surface and work the dough into a smooth ball. Cover with cling film, put it back in the bowl and leave to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
Unwrap the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll it out quite thinly on a clean surface. It should be just under half a centimetre thick. Using a cookie cutter 6cm (2.5 inches) in diametre cut out as many shapes as you can and place them onto the lined sheets. Roll up the strands of dough into a smooth ball, flatten again, and start over the process. Do this until there is no dough left; you should have about 30 biscuits.
Bake 13-15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown and crisp up. Cool on a wire rack; meanwhile, prepare the ice cream.
For the pistachio ice cream:
Double the recipe to cover all the biscuits. This makes enough to assemble 8 ice cream sandwiches, leaving you with 14 biscuits, which I like to nibble on as I have tea.
200g (7 oz) shelled pistachios
250ml (1 cup) coconut cream, chilled
1 tbsp powdered stevia
Pulse the pistachios to a fine powder in a high-speed blender. Add the coconut cream and stevia and blend until smooth.
Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze for about an hour.
Freeze the biscuits for about 20 minutes before spreading ice cream onto them. To make 8 ice cream sandwiches you will need 16 biscuits and a generous tablespoon of freshly made pistachio ice cream.
If you left the ice cream in the freezer for longer than an hour, you may need to thaw it for half an hour before scooping onto your sandwiches. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop dipped in hot water if you have trouble cutting through the ice cream.
What was your favourite ice cream flavour as a child? Has it changed?