Ice Cream Alfajores

Dulce de Coco Ice Cream:

1 Cup Dulce de Coco (Vegan Desserts, page 213)

2 1/3 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Shortbread Cookies:

5 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/8 Teaspoon Almond Extract

3/4 Cup Cornstarch

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon Arrowroot

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

2 - 3 Tablespoons Full-Fat Coconut Milk

Garnish:

Additional Dulce de Coco

Whipped Coconut Creme

Lightly Toasted Coconut Chips

Mint Leaves and Nasturtium Blossoms or Other Edible Flowers (Optional)

Beginning with the ice cream, be sure to have the dulce de coco prepared and fully cooled in advance. Whisk it into the non-dairy milk in a medium saucepan, and vigorously beat in the cornstarch as well, ensuring that all lumps of starch are broken up and incorporated. Set the pan over medium heat on the stove, and whisk occasionally, until it comes to a full, rolling boil. Turn off the heat before stirring in the vanilla and salt. Let cool to room temperature before thoroughly chilling the mixture in the fridge, for at least 3 hours. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When finished spinning, smooth the still soft, freshly churned into silicon hemisphere molds for a plated presentation, or simply transfer to an air-tight container. Store in the freeze to set up solidly; at least 5 hours, to be certain that it won't immediately melt on the plate.

Meanwhile, to make the cookies, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.

In your stand mixer, beat the margarine briefly to soften, and then cream it together with the sugar. Beat thoroughly until homogeneous, and then add in the zest and both extracts. Mix to incorporate.

Separately, whisk together all of the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate them into the stand mixer with the speed on low in two additions. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed, to ensure that everything is being mixed in smoothly. Finally, drizzle in the coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together when pressed. It should be a fairly firm, almost crumbly dough, so don't go crazy with the added liquid. If it's too sticky, it won't roll out properly.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and use a rolling pin to flatten it out to about 1/8th of an inch in thickness. Cut out rounds with a 2 3/4- or 3-inch fluted cookie cutter, and transfer the shapes to your prepared baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies no longer look moist, but not so long that they look browned. The finished cookies should remain very pale.

Cool completely on wire racks, and chill further before applying the ice cream.

To make a simple ice cream sandwich, just take one shortbread cookie, plop a scoop of the ice cream on top, and finish it off with one more cookie. You can wrap them individually and store them in the freezer, to be doled out as desired.

For the plated presentation, start by piping out a few decorative dollops of coconut whipped cream on top of one cookie, and artfully sticking a handful of the toasted coconut chips into it. Place a second cookie on the plate, and pop out one hemisphere of solidly frozen ice cream.

Stack the ice cream puck on the plain cookie, and carefully balance the decorated cookie on top. If it threatens to slide off, lightly melt the top of the ice cream dome with a hot knife or metal spatula, just enough to flatten out the peak slightly. Finally, garnish the plate with additional dulce de coco, mint leaves, and nasturtiums if desired.

Makes 6 Plated Desserts, with Extras for Nibbling

©Hannah Kaminsky http://www.bittersweetblog.com