Paul McLaughlin, one of Oceana’s owners, sent me an e-mail that asked, “Ever think about an ice cream sandwich for summer?”
Immediately, I thought, “no… but that’s a great idea.”
I love getting a challenge. It’s always tough to elevate an everyday treat into the restaurant setting. Everybody loves ice cream sandwiches, and is quite familiar with them. In order to make my own spin on the classic, I decided that the dessert should be a selection of different types of sandwiches. This way guests would get to sample various flavors and textures. (Plus, you get to eat three sandwiches in one sitting!)
CHOCOLATE COCOA NIB/ESPRESSO
This is the classic wafer sandwich cookie that I most associate when I think of an ice cream sandwich. Rather than change it too much, I wanted to make the best possible version. The rectangular wafers are made with a cocoa nib chocolate dough. Cocoa nibs, which are the roasted cocoa bean itself, are ground into the batter and give an extra bitterness and texture. To contrast this, a creamy, yet sharp espresso ice cream sits neatly in the middle.
I had a great recipe for a semolina sorbet which is basically a spun semolina pudding flavored with vanilla and good extra virgin olive oil. I knew the creaminess of the cooked semolina and the subtle fruitiness from the olive oil would be a perfect filling. To pair it, I altered a standard oatmeal cookie recipe and gave it nuttiness with toasted, chopped pecans, intensity with whole wheat flour, and complexity with red wine soaked raisins. When put all together, this combination blew my mind. It had everything I wanted.
Wanting something light and summery on the plate, I took a classic dacquoise, which is a French style nut meringue cake, and altered it by using shredded coconut. These thin little cakes are chewy yet tender even when frozen. They are a perfect foil to the frozen pineapple mousse which forms right between the cakes. The mousse, or semifreddo, is a fresh, pineapple puree mixed with whipped eggs and cream, allowing a smooth and firmer texture compared to traditional ice creams.
After some fun trial-and-errors, the ice cream sandwiches premiered on the Oceana lunch menu. Fun yet sophisticated, they are the perfect hot summer day treat.
PS. I’ll let you guess which my favorite one is.