Carob Molasses and Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches
When I originally planned this post, it was warm and sunny, the last few official days of summer were quickly approaching, and nothing sounded more on brand than ice cream sandwiches. But Hurricane Dorian changed all of that. Since I live within the cone of uncertainty (which couldn’t be more aptly named right about now), my week has been turned upside down. My Labor Day plans were thwarted and replaced with hurricane preparation (kind of), watching too much Netflix, listening to weathermen use the term “squall” far too often for my taste, and trying to simultaneously motivate myself to work out while refraining from eating all of our hurricane snacks. Turns out, ice cream sandwiches are pretty on brand for the days leading up to hurricanes too. In all seriousness, hurricanes can be very scary and damaging and I am very thankful that I live in a structurally sound home and have the ability to purchase any necessary safety precautions. There are many people, especially on the islands in the Caribbean, who have been devastated by these storms in recent years.
But back to ice cream sandwiches. I am pretty particular when it comes to frozen treats and those store-bought, paper-wrapped sandwiches always do the trick for me. I have tried many times to trade my boxed sandwiches for more refined, homemade ones, stacked together with all sorts of cookies, but I am always left a little disappointed. The cookies freeze and are too hard to bite into, or the ice cream slides right out from between the sandwiches. These, though, are a game changer. The “cookie” layer is much closer to a cake-y brownie, so they are soft enough to bite into and spongey enough to soak in just enough ice cream to keep the whole thing from falling apart.
When I was at the restaurant this summer, I had the opportunity to meet Chef Alon Shaya. He has long been one of my favorites, his book is exceptionally written and his restaurant is the author of some of my most memorable food experiences. Turns out, he is also very kind and a great teacher in real life too. For his final dinner at the restaurant, we made a carob molasses cake, that tasted a lot like a giant brownie, and served it with pistachio gelato, garden peaches, and crushed pistachios tossed with urfa chili flakes. It was really simple, but delicious and I started dreaming of these ice cream sandwiches.
Carob molasses is made by soaking carob pods in water and then cooking it down until you are left with a syrup. It is a Middle Eastern food, rich in history, and it was originally used as an alternative to sugar. Though sweet, it is not as cloyingly sweet as the traditional molasses we are used to here in the U.S. and it has a round, chocolatey flavor. Because it is an invert sugar, when added to baked goods, it also brings a little extra moisture. You can find carob molasses on Amazon, but I encourage you to go check out your local Middle Eastern market if you have time. I love browsing the aisles of my local market and I always walk out with my arms full of new things to try. (If you are in the Orlando area, I like Alexandria Market off of Hanging Moss Road or Shiraz Market in Longwood.)
Carob Molasses and Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yield: 6 3”x3” sandwiches
170 g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
128 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
75 g (3/4 cup) sifted cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
200 g (1 cup) sugar
1 T vanilla extract
135 g (1/2 cup) carob molasses
1 quart pistachio gelato
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp ground coriander, sprinkle of flaky salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12x17 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan set over low-medium heat, melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine melted butter, sugar, and molasses. Whip until smooth and then add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour/cocoa mixture and mix until just combined. Remove from stand mixer and fold gently with a rubber spatula until no dry spots remain.
Pour batter onto the prepared pan and use a small offset spatula to smooth into a thin, even layer, leaving about 1/4” of space around the edges.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, until set and then let cool completely. If you aren’t assembling right away, you can keep the cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to build your ice cream sandwiches.
When you are ready to assemble, remove ice cream from the freezer and let stand for a few minutes to soften slightly.
To assemble, trim the edges of your cake until you have a rectangle measuring 12”x16”. Cut the cake in half lengthwise so you have two equal rectangles measuring 12”x8”. Scoop ice cream evenly over one side of the rectangle and use an offset spatula to smooth. Place the other side of the rectangle on top and press down gently. Freeze for at least 6 hours, overnight if possible.
When reading to slice, use a hot knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a ruler to measure 3”x3” squares, slice, and return to freezer. When sandwiches are completely firm, wrap twice in plastic wrap and store in freezer until ready to enjoy.
*Unfortunately for me, I don’t yet have my own ice cream machine so I used Talenti Sicilian Pistachio Gelato. If you have an ice cream maker and want to make your own pistachio gelato, David Lebovitz has a great recipe you can find here!
*As I said above, you can find carob molasses on Amazon or at your local Middle Eastern Market.