Part two of the pumpkin almond cake-tacular: the toppings. More specifically, windmill cookie ice cream and windmill cookie pie crumb. I hope you chilled your ice cream makers like I told you, because here. we. go.
I like to think of these three components as three (well, four; one is a duo) of my favorite bakers and ice cream masters coming over for dessert at the same time, only without the unfortunate head-expolsion and subsequent loss of consciousness which would happen if they actually showed up at my door. These recipes give you all of their immense talent with none of the fainting: You have the guys from Baked bringing the pumpkin almond cake (which we discussed), Jeni Britton-Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams showing up with this ice cream, and Christina Tosi from Momofuku Milk Bar bringing it home with the pie crumbs.
The pumpkin almond cake was very lightly adapted and was almost identical to the Baked original version: not much alteration there. The ice cream and pie crumb are more loosely based on the Jeni’s Graham Cracker Ice Cream and the Momofuku Milk Bar Pie Crust Crumb, respectively. Both perfect in their original format, obviously, but I wanted to make them more seasonal and complementary to the cake they are intended for.
Not that these can’t be eaten on their own: I’ve stolen a few pie crumbs from their freezer bag nearly every day since I made them. As for the ice cream? Well…there’s none left. Judge not lest ye yourself be judged, mmkay?
I know we went over this in the pumpkin cake post, but both the ice cream and the pie crust crumbs are made from windmill cookies, which you may know as, you guessed it, windmill cookies, or speculoos, or speculaas. All the same thing: it’s a spiced shortcrust cookie, not as hot and molasses-y as a gingerbread, but generously employing spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. some of them have little almonds in them, still others are made with almond meal. Usually you see them in stamped shapes, and that’s where the name “windmill cookie” comes in: the ones we see around here are shaped like windmills.
In the ice cream, you rough-chop some of the cookies and steep them in the hot milk base; then you push them through a fine mesh strainer, which effectively removes the large pieces of almond but gives you maximum cookie goodness and a really great texture to the finished product. In the crumbs, some of the flour is replaces with pulverized cookie, which lets them keep their pie-crust appeal, but adds a little spice into the mix. OF all the crumbs in the Momofuku Milk Bar book, it seemed the most fitting as a play on a classic pumpkin pie idea.
Put them all together, aaaaaand…seriously, be seated while eating this. Let the ice cream soften just a bit to where it’s still cold but just starting to melt into the cake a little bit, dive your spoon down deep, hitting all three components as you go, and commence fall euphoria. And it works equally well at a harvest dinner party as it does on a Thursday night at home by yourself: It’s not fancy, but it IS impressive when you stack it all up together like that, and the flavors and textures are superb together. Best of all, you can make every bit of this ahead: crumbs can be made and frozen, ice cream is ice cream, so that’s good for a few weeks in the freezer, and even the cake is totally fine to make a day or so ahead of things.
I’m going to leave you to it: we all have busy schedules right now, it seems. Myself included: this week is a big one in terms of work and getting some things checked off The Master List of Things I Must Do Before The Holidays Arrive (we all have that list, don’t we?) So have fun with this: I daresay this could be an early contender for your Thanksgiving meal, if you’re looking to do a little something different.
I said it above, but it bears repeating: ice cream adapted from the Graham Cracker Ice Cream recipe in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts (her newest book, which is lovely), and the crumb is adapted from my perennial favorite Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi. The cake pictured is the Pumpkin Almond Cake from the post immediately preceding this one, found here; it makes an excellent – if not essential – home for this ice cream and crumb.
Windmill [Speculoos] Cookie Ice Cream + Windmill Pie Crust Crumbs
for the crumbs:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup pulverized windmill cookies (process them in a food processor until they make sand-like crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
for the ice cream:
- 2 2/3 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup windmill (speculoos) cookies, rough chopped
Make the pie crumbs:
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, pulverized windmill cookies, sugar, and salt and whisk together until blended. Add the melted butter and water and stir together with a rubber spatula until mixture comes is homogenous and forms crumbs when pressed together.
Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and break up any larger crumbs if you see them and making space between the clusters. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking, until golden brown and just a bit moist; crumbs will harden once cool. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool completely.
Make the ice cream:
Take two tablespoons of the milk and place them in a small bowl with the cornstarch; whisk with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
Whisk cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl until smooth and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Boil for 4 minutes, remove from heat. Stir you cornstarch slurry once more to combine and stream slowly into your milk mixture, whisking the mixture as you stream. Place back over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring with a rubber spatula constantly until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until completely smooth. Add the remaining hot milk mixture and whisk until everything is homogenous. Add chopped cookies and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Press mixture through a fine mesh sieve to strain out any larger bits of nuts from the cookies, and whisk to combine into the mixture: most of the cookie will remain with the milk mixture and thicken it slightly.
Fill a large bowl (big enough for you to float your medium bowl in) with ice water, accounting for water displacement (don’t fill it so high that it all spills out when you place your ice cream mixture in, silly.) Float the bowl containing your ice cream base inside it, stirring frequently until cooled. Transfer just the bowl containing the ice cream base to the refrigerator to chill, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and spin ice cream in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to airtight storage containers and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours, until firm.