From last night’s Chinese dinner party, here are two of the recipes that I have. The 5 spice ice cream is really tasty and works extremely well with Darlene’s gingerbread cake — I’ll work on getting that recipe too. The almond cookies were the also-ran of the desserts last night, but I’m actually really enjoying them today. They practically demand that you brew some tea. They’re very bossy cookies.
Five-Spice Ice Cream
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 whole egg yolks
Combine the half-and-half, five-spice, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds and salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, then immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.
In a large bowl add the sugar and egg yolks and whisk to combine. Add the half-and-half mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, to the beaten eggs and sugar, whisking after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Transfer the bowl to an ice bath and stir frequently until custard is completely cool. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Pour the filling into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning time. Remove the ice cream from the machine and transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 8 hours.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup white sugar (can add up to 2 more tablespoons, if desired)
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
- 30 whole, blanched almonds (one for each cookie)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter or margarine, shortening, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and mix well. Note: The dough will be crumbly at this point, but don’t worry – that is what it’s supposed to be like.
- Use your fingers to form the mixture into a dough, and then form the dough into 2 rolls or logs that are 10 to 12 inches long. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (this will make it easier to shape the dough into circles).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Take a log and lightly score the dough at 3/4 inch intervals so that you have 15 pieces and cut the dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie tray, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Brush each cookie lightly with beaten egg before baking. Bake for 15 minutes to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and store in a sealed container.