desserts, jeni's spinalong

jeni’s spinalong: icelandic wedding cake frozen skyr with lingonberry swirl and kransekake (say what?)

Some people don’t think of December as ice cream season.

Those people are dead wrong.

Take, for instance, our (Natalie and I, you know the drill) selections for this month’s Jeni’s Spinalong: they’re perfectly wintry. In fact, I don’t even know if I’d want to eat these in the summer months (lie: I would totally eat these any time of year). In the interest of honoring your time this month, I’ll get right to it.

We’re still doing out special September-through-December monthly Spinalong spectacular, so this month’s theme is simply to take whatever ice cream best exemplifies our feelings towards December and make it into a frosty dessert treat.

I chose to make Icelandic Wedding Cake Ice Cream, an invention inspired by two things: Jeni’s Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake Frozen Skyr from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts, and her recipe for Oslo Ambrosia, found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Call it a mash-up: of feelings, ideas, and countries: hard to say. Here’s what I know: both Iceland and Norway are a) cold, b) snow-covered, and c) very far to the North. And that feels like a December I’d quite like to experience one day.

icelandic wedding cake frozen skyr with lingonberry swirl and kransekake.

Also, December is my wedding anniversary month: so there’s the wedding cake part of things, friends. It should come as no surprise to those of you that know me that I chose a cold, dark and mostly dreary month to get married in, because I treasure dark and dreary, chilly days. I think more clearly, I get more work done, and I’m more content on days which involve little to no sun; it’s just my way.

Taking all those feelings and spinning them into an ice cream wasn’t easy. The base is the frozen skyr ice cream, which is lovely and thick, and not too sweet at all: a nice change of pace flavor-wise from the normal milk-and-cream-only bases, plus it made me pay attention a little more, as I can make the normal Jeni’s bases in my sleep. Second came the swirl: a simple purchase of lingonberry jam from international market did the trick here. If you’ve never had lingonberry jam before, it’s got a very cranberry flavor, but the texture is how it would be if cranberries were actually babies with the mouth feel of those tiny champagne grapes. Less tart, really flavorful, and delightful: the wee berries pop a little in your mouth when you eat it.

Finally, the cake bit: you may know this, but Iceland has a very specific traditional wedding cake called a Kransakaka (or kransakage, or kransakake) – basically a series of donuts ranging from large to small, made entirely out of almond paste, sugar, and egg whites. There are “forms” you can buy to shape aforementioned donuts, and there’s certain recipes which call for kneading the dough in a pan over low heat for 30 minutes…and that’s when I was like “hold. up. no one is doing that here.”

And then it dawned on me: I know something else which is made from almond paste, sugar, and egg whites (Oxford comma forever!) – my beloved Pignoli Cookies from last December! So I made a half-batch, minus the orange zest and pignoli, and I was in business. What you see before you is the frozen skyr swirled with the warmed (and subsequently cooled) lingonberry jam and “cake” pieces, a.k.a. my chopped up cookies.

icelandic wedding cake frozen skyr with lingonberry swirl and kransekake.

It’s like a Nordic dream, people, and snazzy to boot. The tart swirl really sets off the intensely chewy cake pieces (think a pavlova-type chew here, very pleasant and satisfying) and the skyr keeps everything from getting too sweet. If you’re big on almond cookies or just want a pretty ice cream to keep around this December, make this one.

Or, make Natalie’s offering, which is, as usual, completely wonderful: very different, but then again very similar in some ways to mine. Her feels came to life as “cookies (and coffee) for Santa,” expressed through ice cream as Chocolate + Coffee Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches, and yes; I’m positive it tastes as perfect as it looks. I went through stages of longing with this one during our reveal (we make our decisions independently and then reveal them to each other at the same time…it’s all very orderly). First, joy and excitement at her plan. Second, anxiety that somehow she’d changed her mind because I really didn’t want her to. Third, elation and sadness, the former because I saw photos and they turned out so well, the latter because I live too far away from her to taste it. We’re working on a plan to live next door to each other someday to remedy that particular situation.

We’re currently thinking about our plans for the Spinalong next year: we may go monthly, we may not: we tend to think jointly about our future blog plans, both for this project and in general: she’s great to bounce things off of, and I’ve talked before about the importance of having a blog buddy to really stay centered, and she is mine. I’ll be back shortly, because i did something I’ve always wanted to do (a food goal, if you will) this year, and I want to tell you about it SO HARD.

And so I will.

Ice cream a straight-up copy of Jeni’s Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake Frozen Skyr from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts; lingonberry jam is what it says it is; faux kransekake an adaptation of my pignoli cookies.

 Icelandic Wedding Cake Frozen Skyr with Lingonberry Swirl + Kransekake

for the faux kransekake:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8 oz tube (or box) of almond paste (NOT marzipan: there’s a difference and it’s significant)
  • 2 egg whites

for the frozen skyr:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 skyr (Siggi’s plain is great here)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional)*

for the lingonberry swirl:

  • 3/4 cup high-quality lingonberry jam

* if you’d like to make your base a little more almond-y, that’s how you do it. it’s perfect as/is, however, so choose your own adventure. 

Make the faux kransekake: 

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, crumble in almond paste. Turn the mixer on low to further break it up. Continue mixing on low while you stream in the granulated and confectioners’ sugar, and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing well on medium-high after each addition, and scraping down the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Mix on medium high for 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as you go, until everything looks homogenous. Remove bowl from stand and use the spatula to work through the dough, incorporating any dry patches you find (especially at the bottom of the bowl). Everything should look evenly distributed and smooth.

Using two spoons, scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough and ease it onto the prepared baking sheet, setting balls about 2 inches apart. They can be rustic balls: no need for perfect rounds here, they’re getting cut up anyway. Bake one sheet of these at a time: I never condone multi-sheet baking, as it can lead to inferior cookies, but especially in this case, stick with one sheet. you can assemble the remaining cookies as the first sheet bakes.

Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for around 15 to 16 minutes, checking at the 12-minute mark for doneness. for a chewier cookie, look for the cookies to be spread slightly and puffed, with very little color change to the dough itself, save for a few golden spots here and there. Cookies do firm up as they cool, and will harden further in about 48 hours or so, so keep that in mind as well.

Remove from oven and place sheet on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes to allow cookies to set. Transfer cookies to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

for the frozen skyr base: 

Whisk together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the milk until slurry forms; set aside. In a large mixing bowl (which is able to fit inside a larger mixing bowl for the ice bath), mix together the skyr and cream cheese; set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan set over medium heat, add remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil. Once mixture begins to bubble, remove from heat and whisk as you stream in cornstarch slurry; continue whisking as you place mixture back over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and allow to cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour a small amount into the cream cheese mixture; whisk rapidly until mixture is smooth. Continue to stream in hot milk mixture as you whisk; stir until everything is incorporated and mixture is homogenous. Fill a larger bowl (you know, that one I mentioned earlier) with ice water and carefully set the ice cream mixture inside it. Allow to cool on the counter for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Remove from ice bath and transfer to refrigerator to chill at least 6 hours or (preferably, in my opinion) overnight.

Once chilled, remove from refrigerator and spin according to manufacturer’s instructions.

and now for the fun part:

While ice cream is spinning, place lingonberry jam in microwave safe bowl and zap for a few seconds until it has warmed and thinned out a little. Stir to smooth out; set aside to cool back to room temperature. Now, take about 1 1/4 cups of the cooled kransekake cookies and chop them into small pieces (you choose how small, but you want them no larger than about 1/2-inch square); set aside.

Once ice cream has finished spinning, bring it over to your workstation alongside the lingonberry jam and chopped cookies. begin by adding a small bit of lingonberry jam to the bottom of your chosen container(s), then add a layer of the soft-serve skyr. add a few more streaks of lingonberry jam, then sprinkle in a few cookie bits. Add another layer of skyr, then more jam, then cookie bits, and so on until your ice cream is evenly layered. Take a thin butter knife and weave it up, down, and all around to swirl it a bit once you’re done. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 6 hours until very firm.

Enjoy with abandon. It’s what I would do.

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  • Reply movita beaucoup December 3, 2015 at 5:53 am

    I want to live in your brain.

    • Reply shannon January 19, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      If wishing made it so, Movita; if wishing made it so.

  • Reply Brianne December 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    What a seasonally appropriate spin you’ve got there, friend! I love the colors, and the flavors sound awesome. I dig lingonberry jam–I get it at Ikea, but forgot to stock up when I was there last 🙁 I’m sure if I get into a bind, I can find it closer to home.

    Also, that article you linked to at the end there? #GOALS. Dang. My holiday food goal has been Laurie Colwin’s Black Cake–this crazy dark fruitcake that takes like months to prepare (you gotta soak that fruit like whoa), but every year I forget until it’s too late. There’s always next year, right?!

    • Reply shannon January 19, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Why thank you, Brianne! Is IKEA really “the” place to go for the lingonberries? Granted, i’m very fortunate to have the wealth of grocery options that I do, but i’ve never had hard time finding lingonberry jam in our larger grocery stores. Oddly, i’ve never had IKEA’s version because ours just opened months ago, and i refused to deal with crowds until last week (result: going on a cold Monday morning is a pretty good strategy.)

      You would KILL the Feast of the Seven Fishes! It was so fun to do, and i’m happy you saw that: it reminds me i need to talk about it b/c it was a blast, and it truly shows that you can have a goal for years and that’s okay, because when you finally DO get to do it, it can be amazing. I think that Black Cake your talking about sounds like a good goal for next year; I feel like I may note that on my calendar to remind you, because that looks CRAZY (in a good way). I’d totally make that.

  • Reply elizabeth December 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Oh man, is this so hygge! We’re opposite in that I tend to prefer the spring and especially the summer, so I admire your ability to thrive with little to no sun out. (A big reason for this is it makes it much, much harder to post good food photos from dinnertime, but so it goes.) This looks absolutely incredible and I’m kind of sad that M is lactose intolerant and therefore making homemade ice cream is really not a good idea, because I would totally go to IKEA and pick up some lingonberry jam to make this post-haste.

    • Reply shannon January 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      I’ve always thought it was interesting that you’re such a spring/summer person and I’m such a fall/winter, considering our usual similarities; I completely feel your pain when it comes to winter light, however.

      I find i’m not making ice cream nearly as much this winter as i typically would be: some of it is diet (i haven’t been eating much dairy recently), and some of it is just generally being too busy to focus on it. This one i’m definitely making again; sure, it’s late January now, but i have good memories of it for sure. I’m a little sad about M’s lactose intolerance now, because i’d love for you to love this with me.

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