Seasonal Eating

I have to admit, as a food blogger, I’m kind of jealous of people in other parts of the country right now. I mean, Kirsten’s farm share started this week. (If you want new ideas for your veggies this summer, she is the woman to follow. Seriously.) Shawnda is PICKING PEACHES ALREADY. (Yes, she lives in Texas, and I live in Wisconsin. Let’s not get hung up on the details here, people.) I feel like everyone else in the world has all sorts of tasty, seasonal produce at their disposal, and here I sit, wondering why I have NINE measly bean plants coming up when I put an entire seed packet into the ground three weeks ago. Something must have been wrong with those seeds. Grrr.

Right now, rhubarb is the only pickable thing in my garden. So, rather than moping about the situation, I’m embracing it. I’ve made rhubarb muffins. And rhubarb lemonade. And now, rhubarb ice cream sandwiches. Oh yes. Last year, when I made rhubarb ice cream, I mentioned that my original idea had been a vanilla custard with a rhubarb swirl. I took that idea and turned it into the world’s most portable frozen dessert: the ice cream sandwich.

Based on last summer’s success with Annie’s lemon raspberry ice cream sandwiches, I used the same method for these bad boys. (Except, just like last year, I went with graham crackers from the store. I’m sure homemade graham crackers are amazing, but I only have so much free time. And if I’m going to bake something, it’s going to be more exciting than graham crackers. Just saying.) I used a slightly modified (one less egg yolk) version of my favorite vanilla ice cream. I went with a custard-based ice cream, rather than Andy’s favorite Philadelphia-style ice cream because the custard ice cream doesn’t melt quite as fast, which is important for both assembly AND for eating. I lined a 9″ x 13″ metal pan with waxed paper and spread the freshly-churned ice cream in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Then I swirled the rhubarb compote through the vanilla ice cream and put the whole thing in the freezer to firm up overnight. The next morning, I cut the ice cream into squares and sandwiched it between the graham crackers, and then returned the sandwiches to the freezer for a final freeze.

Oh my, these were good. The only people who didn’t love them were the ones who don’t like rhubarb. (AKA… weirdos, haha.) The graham cracker softens slightly, and you get a perfect mix of tart and sweet. There’s one sandwich left in the freezer, and there could be a fight over who gets the last one… unless I eat it when Andy’s not around. 😉

Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

A couple notes about the compote: This makes WAY MORE than you’ll need for the ice cream sandwiches, which I probably should have realized BEFORE I made the entire batch. I actually upped the rhubarb quantity in the compote, just because that’s what I had in the fridge. I also increased the brown sugar to an entire cup, since I had an extra three or four ounces of rhubarb. You could cut the recipe in half, or you could just make the entire batch, and do exciting things with the rest of it. (So far I’ve filled brown butter cupcakes – SO GOOD – and I’m hoping to take the rest of it and make a rhubarb version of these popsicles.) It’s also really good by itself, and I’m guessing it’d be a nice addition to my morning oatmeal. In other words, I’d rather use extra compote than do the math to reduce the recipe. 🙂

Vanilla Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the ice cream:
5 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scrapped
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the rhubarb compote:
1 3/4 lbs. of fresh rhubarb, diced
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

For assembly: 
Graham crackers, broken into squares (I used about 1 1/2 sleeves of store-bought graham crackers.)

To make the compote,combine the rhubarb, brown sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium low heat and cook, covered, until the mixture is saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes or so. Allow the compote to cool completely before using. Remove the vanilla bean before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the ice cream, combine the milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, salt and the vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl until smooth. (I use my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Gradually add the warmed milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warm and well-combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Place the remaining cup of cream in a large glass bowl (again, I use my 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and set a fine mesh strainer over the top of the bowl. Pour the cooked custard through the strainer and into the cream. Mix the custard and the cream together and add the vanilla extract. If desired, you can remove the vanilla bean pod from the strainer and add it back into the custard base (after you make sure there aren’t any cooked egg chunks stuck to the pod).

Cover the bowl and cool the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it’s thoroughly chilled. (You can speed this process up by putting the bowl in the freezer and stirring it occasionally.)

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper, leaving an overhang on the edges. Spread the churned ice cream in an even layer (about an inch thick) in the bottom of the pan. If the ice cream seems really soft after this step, put the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.

Dollop several spoonfuls of rhubarb compote across the top of the vanilla ice cream. (I’m guessing that I used about 1/2 cup of compote, but I didn’t measure.) Using a table knife or a wooden skewer, swirl the rhubarb through the vanilla ice cream. Cover the pan and return it to the freezer to freeze completely. (I left mine in the freezer overnight.) 

To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, remove the pan from the freezer and cut the ice cream into squares, using your graham cracker as a guideline. (I made my ice cream squares slightly smaller than the graham crackers so there wouldn’t be an overhang that could potentially melt before you had a chance to enjoy it.) Use a metal spatula to remove the ice cream squares from the pan and sandwich the squares between the graham crackers. Return the sandwiches to the freezer for one last time, and allow them to freeze until solid before enjoying. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Ice cream base adapted from Annie’s Eats, who got it from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop.” Rhubarb Compote from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from “Good to the Grain.” Method from Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from Tartelette.

Click here for a printable version.

3 thoughts on “Seasonal Eating

  1. Beth,
    Thank you so much for the shout out! I’m jealous of the folks in California who get fresh fruit year round–what a treat!
    I doubt I’ll ever make rhubarb anything because my spouse doesn’t care for it–but I’m intrigued by the method of these ice cream sandwiches. That’s pretty clever!

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