Strawberry Gelato Sandwiches

I am babysitting the most precious little girl this evening, but she doesn't speak English. She asked me (in Russian) to read her a story that's written in English, and wasn't very happy when I didn't translate it into Russian as I read it aloud. I don't know the vocabulary for the story, but thankfully her mom was still there to translate for us. I remember enough to sort of follow what her mom says to her (I say sort of because I usually double-check to make sure I'm understanding properly), but all I can really say to her is what's this, do you want me to read this, what do you want/like to do, I like to cook/read/play, things like that. Later I tried to read a book to her that was already written in Russian, but it takes me too long to process the Cyrillic characters now, which makes my reading very stilted (and let's not talk about my pronunciation), so she didn't like that very much (although she still wanted to play with me after so she doesn't think I'm totally stupid anyway).

It makes my heart ache a little, because I want to understand, I want to be better at interacting and speaking with her, but I'm not. Even if I knew the word for something at one point, when I took Russian a year and a half ago, I can only think of the Spanish word when I try to recall it. There is so much I need to learn and do, and it's so frustrating that I can't do it all at once. I don't even know Spanish that well. These things take years, years that I'm too impatient for. I'm so tired of waiting. At least when I'm cooking, even with fairly involved and time-intensive projects like this one, I'm rewarded for my work on the order of hours instead of months and years. Anyway, by the time I post this on Wednesday, I'll have been satiated with a gelato sandwich (read: two or three sandwiches), so that's something.

This is not at all my prettiest work slash best presentation, but it tastes pretty good, I dare say.

Strawberry Gelato Sandwiches

Strawberry Gelato
from the Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto, as always

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly
3/4 c sugar, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch or two smoked Maldon salt (totally optional, but yummy)
2 c whole milk
1 c cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan heat cream and milk to 170 degrees F, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the yolks and 1/2 c sugar until the mixture has thickened and turned pale yellow.  Carefully stream in a 1/2 c or so of the hot cream-milk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper them.  Pour the yolk mixture back into the pot, then heat slowly to 185 degrees F, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.  

Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, to remove any tiny bits of cooked yolk.  Cool completely in the refrigerator for ~4 hours.  Once cooled, stir in the vanilla extract.

Meanwhile, toss the strawberries with 1/4 c sugar and the lemon juice. Let them macerate for 15 minutes before cooking them over medium-low heat until the syrup has begun to reduce and the strawberries are beginning to fall apart, 10 minutes or so. Let them cool to room temperature, sprinkle over the salt, then stow in the fridge until completely chilled.

Once both the custard and the strawberries are cold, take 3/4 of the strawberries and purée them. Add all the strawberries into the custard, stirring completely.  Churn the custard in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions (~20 minutes), then freeze completely for a few hours.

Brownie Cookies

3 c (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (225 grams) butter, softened
1 1/2 (300 grams) cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer.  Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least one hour.

Roll the log of dough on the counter to smooth out any bumps, then remove the plastic wrap and slice into medallions.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.  Cool the cookies completely before proceeding to making the sandwiches.


Let the gelato get soft enough to scoop, but not so soft that it's melty -- trust me, I had to fight mine and it wasn't pretty.  Put a scoop on each of the bottom cookies, freeze completely, then top with the lid cookies and freeze again.

Protip: I should've done this. You can freeze the gelato in a rectangular pan, and then use a cookie cutter to cut out medallions of gelato that will fit perfectly (and non-messily) into the sandwich.

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