Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chocolate Wafer Cookies with Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Recently I received an adorable cookbook in the mail, courtesy of Chronicle Books: Miette: Recipes From San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop (Chronicle Books, 2011; $27.50) by Meg 
Ray. I immediately lusted after the cake on the cover, a tall, really 

moist-looking chocolate layer cake with raspberry buttercream peaking out from its bare layers, with a single precious pink icing rose in the center. Meg Ray of Miette calls is the Tomboy Cake, because it’s “a little rough around the edges—a bit of a tomboy with 

a little rose on top.” But, ultimately, after flipping through the book, it was another recipe that stole my attention and spurred me into action: Chocolate Wafer Cookies. These simple, round, flat wafers with scalloped edges looked like a glamorized version of Nabisco 

Famous Chocolate Wafers, the cookie of choice for making chocolate crumb crusts for pies. I’ve always found that for such a plain looking cookie, Nabisco Wafers are unbelievably good and downright addictive. One day I looked at the ingredient list on the 

package, and saw that palm oil was there, front and center. Now, I’m no nutrition nut (it would put a damper on my field of choice: full-fat desserts), but palm oil doesn’t sound all that great for you, so if I can avoid it, all the better. The Miette wafers were made with all-

natural ingredients, including a touch of honey for a soft, fragrant finish. I love these simple, chocolaty cookies, and on impulse decided to pair them with homemade Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream, inspired by the color pairing of the Tomboy Cake on the cover. The ice cream was equally delicious, with a fresh-picked strawberry flavor and mild peppery finish that doesn’t hit you over the head. Just perfect for those simple, yet bold, chocolate wafers. This pairing also makes an excellent ice cream sandwich.
Chocolate Wafer Cookies with Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Chocolate Wafer Cookies:
From Miette: Recipes From San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop (Chronicle Books, 2011; $27.50) by Meg Ray

Makes about 24 3 ¼-inch cookies

1 ¾ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (51 g) brut or natural unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons (20 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (63 g) honey

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, granulated and brown sugars and honey and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 2 days.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about ¼”thick. Using a 3 ¼-inch round cookie cutter with a scalloped edge, cut out the chocolate wafers. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle each cookie with granulated sugar. Bake until firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
6. Gather up the dough scraps, reroll, and cut out to make more cookies. Bake as directed and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Yield: about 2 quarts

1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, ground (I used a mortar & pestle)

1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cream and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar and the salt. Whisk in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. Return this mixture to the remaining milk/cream in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 180°F. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and stir in the vanilla. Chill over an ice bath and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
2. Place the strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Stir to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
3. Drain strawberries and add to the chilled custard along with the ground peppercorns. Blend with an immersion blender (or in batches in the blender) until strawberries are pureed. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. This ice cream is best served the day it's made--it gets a little icy the next day.