Chocolate-Coated Cocoa Nib Florentines and Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Cocoa nibs are little pieces of shelled cocoa beans. They have been the most exciting new ingredient for pastry chefs in many years. When they first arrived, we went wild and tested them in all types of desserts-ice cream, cookies, candies; some even used them straight as a garnish. Thanks to Scharffen Berger Chocolate, they are now available in gourmet cookware stores and Whole Foods markets across the country. Since cocoa nibs are unsweetened, they do have a slightly bitter taste, but when combined with sweet ingredients they produce a wonderful contrast.

Ingredients

Orange Ice Cream

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Zest stripped from 2 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Florentines

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • cup ( ounces) plus ¼ cup ( ounces) pistachios, toasted, skinned, and chopped
  • ½ cup cocoa nibs
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Method

To Make the Ice Cream

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, and the salt in a bowl. Combine the cream, milk, orange zest, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg-and-sugar mixture, whisking as you pour.

Return the egg-and-cream mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant plastic or wooden spatula, until the custard reaches 175°F and lightly coats the spatula. Cool over an ice bath until room temperature. Stir in the orange juice. Refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. Strain the custard into a clean bowl, discarding the orange zest. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until scoopable, about 4 hours, depending on your freezer.

To Make the Florentines

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cream, sugar, flour, the cup pistachios, and the cocoa nibs. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and comes clean from the bottom of the pan as you stir, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Drop teaspoonfuls of the batter inches apart on the prepared pans. The cookies will spread as they bake. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool to room temperature on the pans and then remove them with a metal spatula. You will need 24 cookies for the sandwiches.

When cool, turn the Florentines over with an offset spatula and gently coat the bottoms with a thin layer of the melted chocolate, using a small pastry spatula. Let harden, about 10 minutes.

In Advance

The Florentines can be made a day ahead. Coat them with the chocolate the day you assemble the sandwiches. Store the cookies in an airtight container. The sandwiches can be assembled 1 to 2 days in advance. Store wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

To Assemble the Sandwiches

Place half of the Florentines chocolate side up. Place a scoop of ice cream on top. Gently, so as to not crack the cookies, press a second Florentine on top, adhering the sandwiches together. Place the ¼ cup of pistachios around the sides of the sandwiches. Serve immediately, or freeze until ready to serve.

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