Red Velvet Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you have never tasted a slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, you may not understand what all the fuss is about. Its intriguing name refers partly to its smooth and velvety texture, and partly to the sensual red colour, which is achieved in most modern recipes by adding (lots of) red food colouring to a chocolate cake batter.
Both these features were, however, originally due to the reaction of an acid (like vinegar or buttermilk) with the cocoa powder in the batter, which not only created bubbles and aeration, but also enhanced the red anthocyanin in the cocoa, a compound (also found in foods like red cabbage) that gets more red in the presence of strong acids. However, these days most cocoa powder undergoes Dutch processing, where an alkalizing agent is added to neutralise its acidity. Hence the need for (lots of) red colouring was created amongst bakers, and expertly fulfilled in the US by Adams Extract, a Texan company with good marketing sense.
But now for the really interesting bit. For our purposes today, at least. During the Second World War, bakers used reduced beet juice to enhance the colour (and texture) of their cakes, including the infamous Red Velvet cake, and give otherwise cheap bakes a dramatic appearance. Ah ha! As you know, adding vegetables to any kind of dish is my forte, so I present to you: the very beet-y red velvet ice cream sandwich.
Red velvet ice cream sandwiches
These sandwiches are a beguiling mix of earthy, sweet, cool and chewy. I used buckwheat flour to keep it gluten-free, but if you are not a fan of the taste, use stoneground spelt flour instead. Be sure to freeze the sandwiches until firm, or else you will end up with more ice cream on your shirt than between your biscuits!
Makes 8 sandwiches
Ingredients for the ice cream
200g roasted beetroot (about 500g peeled, raw beetroot)
1 whole vanilla pod
1 can coconut milk, gently warmed to melt the fat
60ml (1/4 cup) raw honey, plus a little extra to taste
flesh of 1/2 ripe avocado (about 50g)
15g (2 tablespoons) organic unsweetened cocoa powder
7g (1 tablespoon) arrowroot powder, dissolved in 15ml (1 tablespoon) water
Ingredients for the cookies
1 tablespoon ground golden linseeds (flax seeds)
60ml (1/4 cup) milk of your choice
60ml (1/4 cup) melted coconut oil
60g (1/2 cup) coconut blossom sugar
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
30g (1/4 cup) organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
160g (1 cup) buckwheat flour
- For the ice cream: put all the ingredients, except 2/3 of the coconut milk and the arrowroot powder slurry, in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside. (If you do not have a high speed blender, scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pod and only use these – pop the pod in your coffee or sugar pot.)
- Whisk the arrowroot slurry into the rest of the gently warmed coconut milk. As soon as it thickens, remove from the heat, and once cooled, add the beetroot mix and whisk. Refrigerate until cold.
- For the cookies: whisk the ground linseeds and milk together. Set aside for a few minutes to allow it to swell.
- Whisk the oil and sugar together until light and frothy. Add the vanilla & linseed mix, then sift the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix together briefly until you have a ball of dough.
- Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop 16 dough balls onto a baking sheet (no need to grease) and flatten each ball (I use a small palette knife to do this).
- Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C/360°F. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.
- For the sandwiches: churn the refrigerated ice cream mixture in your ice cream maker.
- Transfer the soft ice cream to a shallow container that will yield a slab of ice cream 3 – 4 cm thick. Pop it in the freezer until almost solidly frozen, then use a cookie cutter the same size as your cookies to cut out ice cream rounds and place between two cooled cookies. You could also remove the ice cream slightly earlier and use an ice cream scoop to place one scoop between two cookies and press down lightly.
- If you would like to make these ahead of time, put the sandwiches in a container in the freezer and remember to take them out at least 5 – 10 minutes before eating.
To roast the beetroot, scrub clean, peel and cut into medium dice. Toss lightly in melted coconut oil and roast at 180°C/360°F until tender (about 1 hour), turning every so often. Be careful not to let them burn.
If you do not own an ice cream maker, you can make the ice cream by freezing the mixture and whisking it every 30 minutes or so, to prevent the formation of ice crystals.