Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches

The last time I posted on this blog, I was all about the chocolate and peanut combination. Well, now it’s time to talk about its more subtle, sophisticated cousin, the one I love most of all: chocolate and hazelnut.

My first introduction to this combo was the ferrero rocher chocolates my mom always bought for Christmas, and oh man did I fall hard for those. Then came nutella, that European chocolate hazelnut spread that puts peanut butter to shame. I still remember eating it in a giant crepe with bananas on the street in Paris. Perfection. But it’s also pretty good on toast or eaten by the spoonful out of the jar. Basically what I’m saying is that I would eat this stuff if it were spread on cardboard.

And now that you know of my undying love of all things chocolate and hazelnut, let’s talk about these ice cream sandwiches. I was given the recipe posted below by my older brother and forgot all about it for a couple of years until I recently cleaned out my recipe folder. I had some chocolate wafers left over from making an icebox cake and, as fate would have it, the same brother who asked me to make them in the first place had recently returned home from grad school in Switzerland and I figured he was due a “welcome home” treat.

So I made these ice cream sandwiches and fell head-over-heels in love. A stellar combination of barely sweet dark cookies, crunchy hazelnuts, smooth chocolate ice cream, and the aforementioned nutella, these chic little frozen treats are the dessert equivalent of those small, elegant cups of after-dinner espresso. They are also the ultimate example of the “quality over quantity” mantra, as one of these tiny sandwiches feels more indulgent and satisfying than a giant Fat Boy. But that’s not to say I’ll judge you for eating two. Heaven knows the terms “restraint” and “nutella” don’t really pair well in my world.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches (from Better Homes and Gardens, Sept. 2008)

When I made these I totally ignored the instructions and just spread the nutella to my liking, smeared the ice cream all willy-nilly between the cookies, and pretty much made a giant mess. The end result was good but inconsistent. You couldn't taste the nutella in some of the sandwiches, and the ice cream didn't look very pretty. I would suggest learning from my rebel ways and following the directions instead.

16 chocolate wafer cookies (I used nabisco brand but you can also make your own)
1/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (nutella)
1 pint premium chocolate ice cream (I used Haagen Dazs)
1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts*

1) Spread flat side of each wafer with nutella; set aside.
2) Scoop 8 ice cream balls, about 3 tablespoons each, and keep in freezer until ready to assemble.
3) To assemble sandwiches, remove ice cream balls from freezer and allow to soften for one minute.
4) Place 1 ice cream ball on each wafer and top with remaining wafer; press gently together.
5) Sprinkle edges with nuts. Place sandwiches on baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for 3 hours, or until firm. To store, freeze up to 2 weeks in self-sealing plastic bags.

*To toast and skin hazelnuts, spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 5-10 minutes until skins crackle. Wrap hazelnuts in a clean towel and let steam for 5-10 minutes. Rub hazelnuts in towel until skins flake off.

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