Speculoos cookies, the German gingerbread-spiced crisp biscuits that, until recently, were baked only around Christmas, have experienced a bit of a boom over the past several years. In his book The Perfect Scoop (which has a massive cult following among at-home ice cream-makers and includes basically everything you need to know to make fantastic ice cream), David Lebovitz pairs his version of these cookies with a simple lemon ice cream, resulting in exactly what I want to be eating when we are pining for warmer weather but still mired in winter.
If you want to make this the day you plan to serve it, you’ll need to start early in the day and plan to serve it at night. Don’t rush through letting the custard chill in the refrigerator- it gives the flavors time to mellow and meld, and you need the custard to be quite cold before you begin churning it. If you don’t allow the custard to chill properly, you risk melting the ice in the churn canister before the ice cream can freeze. It’s best to make the custard the day/evening before you plan to serve, churn it in the morning, and then pop it in the freezer for a few hours so it is solid enough to scoop by serving time.
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”
For the Lemon Ice Cream
3 large lemons, unsprayed if you can find them
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
For the Speculoos
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Make the Ice Cream:
1. Pour the sugar directly into a medium saucepan. Zest the lemons directly onto the sugar, then use your fingers to rub the zest and sugar together a bit.
2. Add the milk, 1/2 cup of the cream, and the salt, and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for an hour.
3. Rewarm the milk mixture. While it heats, pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream into a medium container (one with a tight-fitting lid) and set a mesh strainer on top.
4. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together, then slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the yolks with one hand while constantly whisking the yolks with another hand. Add anywhere from half to all of the milk to the yolks this way, then pour it all back into the saucepan. This gradual heating of the eggs is called “tempering” and allows you to heat the yolks without them curdling.
5. Stir this mixture constantly, over medium or medium low heat, with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula, constantly scraping the bottom of the pot as you stir. Once the mixture thickens a bit and coats the spoon,* pour the custard through the strainer (to catch any errand clumps of egg along with the lemon zest) and into the container of cream, and stir immediately. You can hasten cooling by placing this container into a shallow ice bath and stirring until cool, but since I usually do this the night before I plan to eat the ice cream, it has all night to chill in the refrigerator, so I just pop the container, loosely covered, in the refrigerator.
6. Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in the crumbled speculoos as you remove it from the machine and pour it back into the container you used for chilling it (you can just alternate layers of ice cream and cookie crumbles, if that is easiest for you). Press a piece of wax paper directly against the surface of the ice cream, then seal the container with a tight lid and freeze for a few hours before serving.
Make the Speculoos:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2. Using a fork, beat together the butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the molasses and yolk until well incorporated.
3. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Stir into the butter mixture and mix until smooth. Use your hands to pat the batter onto the baking sheet into a circle about 5″ in diameter, then bake for 16-18 minutes. You want these on the soft side so they fold into the ice cream well, so don’t take them as far as you would for a crisp cookie.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool, then break them into small bite-sized chunks and crumble a few of them into smaller crumbs. Fold into the ice cream according to the recipe above.