Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  Growing up, my mom would make what we called ‘chocolate eclair cake’. It was the go-to dessert when we were asked to bring a dessert to large gatherings. It was my favorite sweet there most the time. It was rather simple to make, just graham crackers, boxed vanilla pudding, cool whip, and canned chocolate frosting- all layered and kept in the refrigerator. Not too long ago I tried recreating it from scratch, then I tried a slice in the freezer and it was even better that way. So, In a way, that dessert was the inspiration for this recipe. I guess it would be considered an icebox cake, but I’m still not sure. I used the label anyway as it comes pretty close in my opinion.

Traditionally, icebox cake is just chocolate wafers and whipped cream layered and refrigerated. This version has a bit more effort put into it, but the outcome is well worth it. I had a difficult time deciding what cookie/cracker/wafer I should use. I don’t like to buy pre-made things for most of my recipes, so graham crackers or any pre-packaged cookie was off the list. I decided on my ginger snap cookies and combined with the banana pudding, it’s the most delicious tasting combo.


Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  for the pudding/filling:

2 cups whole milk

2 medium-sized bananas, mashed

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons cake flour (or all-purpose)

pinch of sea salt

2 cups heavy cream, beaten to stiff peaks

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

  for the cookies

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup raw cane sugar

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

1 large egg, room temperature

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons ground allspice

1/3 cup raw sugar, for rolling

  METHOD

  for the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare one large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
  2. In an electric standing mixer (whisks attached), beat -on medium speed- the butter and sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and add the molasses and egg; beat on low until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl once more. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the mixer and beat on medium speed until just combined. Spoon out the dough, rolling each piece between the palms of your hands until they’ve formed into slightly smooth(but still have small cracks in the dough) balls, each being around 1/2-inch in diameter. Lightly coat with the sugar and place them on the baking sheet, spacing each piece an inch apart from each other. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Once the cookies come out of the oven, use a flat spoon to flatten each cookie while they’re still soft. Cool on the baking sheet for three minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely before using.

  for the pudding/filling:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean paste, and mashed banana. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Once the time has passed, pour the milk into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard any pieces caught. In another bowl, combine the cornstarch, cake flour, and salt. Add half of the milk to the flour and whisk until combined, set aside(whisk the mixture again just before using). 
  2. Set aside a clean mixing bowl, whisk, and sieve; as well as a large bowl filled with ice water for later use.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl that fits over the top of said saucepan(don’t let the bowl touch the water!). Bring the water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, add the sugar and egg yolks and continually whisk until the sugar has dissolved(the mixture will look slightly pale yellow in color). Pour in the flour/milk mixture and whisk until combined, then add the remaining milk. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to whisk the mixture until thick and smooth, making sure to whisk the sides and bottom of the bowl so that none of the pudding burns. When it begins to bubble, cook for one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a clean bowl. Set the bowl in the ice water and whisk the pudding until cool to touch. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding so it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate until cold(about 30 minutes or so, or place in the freezer until cool; this way is faster). Once the pudding has chilled, proceed to the next step:
  4. Chill a large bowl and the whisk(s) to an electric hand mixer. Once chilled, add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir the chilled pudding, then add to the whipped cream. Fold the two together until fully combined. Line the sides and bottom of a large loaf pan with parchment paper(I made the mistake of using plastic wrap, it was difficult to get into/out of the pan). To assemble the icebox cake:
  5. Place a layer of cookies at the bottom of the pan(they should be firmly in place), then spoon half of the pudding mixture on top of the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on the pudding, then add the remaining pudding over the top evenly. Lastly, top with another layer of cookies. Cover the pan tightly and freeze for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Once frozen drizzle with melted chocolate (optional).

SPICY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

  Today’s recipe is a start to a new path, a path I’m really excited to journey down when it comes to baking.  I’m not switching over to a completely different baking method, mind you- I just wanted to start including the more alternative ways you can bake, whether it’s a completely plant-based recipe, a more traditional one, or somewhere in between.  I’m always looking to open my mind and try new things, well because that’s how you learn!

When I think of ginger molasses cookies, I think of round, flat, cracked tops(much like the ginger cookies I created last year); and their texture and taste just right.  I was prepared to be challenged as I’d never veered off the path of your usual ingredients: wheat flour, eggs, milk, and butter.  And I was, indeed, challenged by it.  I read so many different articles of what I should be pairing with what and to be honest, I was about to pull every hair off my scalp.  I now have a much higher reverence for those that must bake this way due to their health or conscious; you really do sacrifice a lot of things, one of them being your product won’t always look as dazzling as the original.  But, that doesn’t always mean the taste and texture aren’t delicious, they may even be better than the original!  “All that glisters is not gold”, as Shakespeare wrote, right?

  Anyway, I tried my hardest to get these cookies posted before New Year’s Eve(and I did!).  Originally, they were to be posted the beginning of this week, but I sat down and uploaded the photos I had taken before I left for Christmas, only to find I was very displeased at how they turned out.  I spent all of Thursday revising and testing the recipe I wrote out and finally, after the fourth baking attempt, they came out as I wanted- Slight crunch around the edges, but the middle soft, chocolatey and spicy.  You’re probably thinking what made me want to put chili pepper inside a cookie.  Well, I love spicy things and chocolate, so I thought I’d give the molasses cookie a slight twist.  Also because I picked a bunch of chili peppers out of the garden this summer and let them sit in the kitchen to dry and they looked so nice, so I crushed them up and threw them in.  It goes so well with the other spices!

  It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end, I feel it was just yesterday we were all celebrating the start!  A lot has happened in these twelve short months, but I’m ready for 2017.  I’m looking forward to trying new things, things that challenge me to think, see, and achieve differently.   Like many other’s, one of my goals in 2017 is to be healthier, happier, and more responsible in the way I’m eating.  Which of course, will affect what ingredients I use in the recipes I create and post.  Hoping you have a wonderful New Year!  One that’s hopeful(the next four years may look a bit bleak here in the United States), full of positive change, love, and happiness.  xo


SPICEY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon chili pepper, ground(I used 1 dry chili pepper blended in a food processor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), room temp.

3/4 cup demerara cane sugar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons water, warm

5-ounces dark chocolate chopped into chunks

method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the ground flaxseed and water and set aside for five minutes(this is your substitute egg).  
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and whisk well; set aside.
  4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and molasses and beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated.  Add the flaxseed and beat until combined, then add half the flour; beat until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until just combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate.  
  5. Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place them 2-inches apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with sugar.  Bake for 11-18 minutes until the edges are slightly darker than the center.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

SWEET POTATO AND MOLASSES OAT COOKIES

  It has been some time since I last baked a batch of warm cookies; they seem to be the neglected baked good here on my blog so I thought it high time I sat down and created a cookie recipe to add to my tiny collection.   Since we are now in November(if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking what the heck, already?), that means an abundance of sweet potatoes from the month before!  Here in Virginia, October is harvest time for sweet potatoes- mostly in early or mid-October, as it’s best to harvest them before the first fall frost, which came really late this year.  

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  Of the many vegetables out there, one of my favorites will always be the sweet potato.  My mom bakes them quite often around this time of year and my favorite way to eat them? A good dousing in butter and a generous amount of pecans and brown sugar sprinkled all over the top.  Really, it’s the best thing ever, though, I probably ruin the nutritional value by doing so.  

  My favorite cookie this time of year will forever be molasses oatmeal cookies.  They were always my go-to when there weren’t any chocolate chips in the kitchen; which, believe it or not, was (and still is) a rarity in my home(even with my chocolate obsession).  So, I thought I’d combine my two favorite things and create these soft, not-so-sweet, sweet potato and molasses oat cookies.  Though the ingredient list may look a bit intimidating and long, they’re very simple and easy to make.  Once fresh out of the oven, they are sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar, which, once cooled, gives the cookies a slight crunch when eaten.  

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SWEET POTATO AND MOLASSES OAT COOKIES

makes about 12-16 medium-sized cookies

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup super-fine almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 ounces unsalted butter, soft

3/4 cups brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and chopped 

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon allspice berries

sugar topping:

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

finely chopped pecans (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or lightly coating with cooking oil.
  2. Rinse, peel and chop the sweet potato into thin chunks.  Fill a small pot half full with water and add the allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, and chopped sweet potato.  Bring to a boil over high heat, once it begins to boil, set a kitchen timer for 12-16 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft in the center.  Discard the spices and strain the potatoes; add mash until smooth.  Set in the refrigerator until cool to touch.  
  3. Meanwhile, combine and whisk the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.  In an electric mixer with beaters attached, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour and mashed sweet potato.  Beat on medium until just combined.  Stir in the oats.  Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, dollop the cookie batter onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing two inches apart.  Using a spoon very lighly flatten each dollop of batter, keeping it in a round shape.  Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are slighly browned.  While the cookies are baking, in a small bowl combine the two tablespoons of turbinado sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of molasses, whisk with a fork till it’s combined; stir in the cinnamon and pecans if using.  Remove the cookies from the oven and sprinkle on a pinch of the sugar mixture.  Let the cookies sit on the pan for 5 minutes before moving onto a cooling rack.  

 

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies with Blackberry Coconut Mascarpone Cheese filling

  I know it’s only August, and yes, I’m totally not ready to accept that fall begins next month, but I really wanted ginger cookies.  Who’s to say they’re just for fall or winter?  So I made some.. and in them went three ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into fine chunks, of course; then sandwiched together with a purple Italian cream cheese filling.  Sounds amazing right?  Believe me, it is.  Earlier this year I made something similar with Meyer lemons and they were utterly delicious.  I haven’t really done much with blackberries so far, so I thought I’d make the cookies again, upgraded, and this time with a different filling.   I really love the combination of blackberry and coconut, add it to mascarpone cheese and it’s something close to heaven!

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  I always get excited when I pull these cookies out of the oven.  The crackled tops are almost always on point.  To me, how a cookie top looks matters immensely, especially photographically.  If a cookie does not have my desired look, I will continue to tweak the recipe and bake a thousand of said cookies till I get there.  There was much trial and error in perfecting this recipe when I first came up with it.  Now I can happily use the recipe with one hundred percent confidence that it will turn out just as I envisioned, and not just for me, but for other’s as well.

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  On a completely random note, I’ve been jumping back and forth with photography style these past few weeks.  I’m deeply inclined to dark, sharp, and shadowy tones; but I also love bright and clean, especially when it comes to food.  So, I’m still working on finding “my style”.  I’m hoping someday it will fall between the two I admire most and be somewhat unique in its own way.  Until then, I shall keep on playing with light and technique.  I fail miserably a lot of times, but that’s okay; it is a never ending journey trying to improve oneself.

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Blackberry Coconut Mascarpone Cheese Filling

8-ounce plain mascarpone cheese, room temp.

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup large blackberries

1/2 cup shredded coconut.

pinch of salt

METHOD

Be sure to bring all the ingredients to room temperature before using, mascarpone is prone to curdle easily. 

In a small saucepan, mash the 1/4 of large blackberries and place on the stovetop over low heat.  Simmer the berries till more of the juices are released, about 3 minutes.  Pour the berries into a sieve and press out the juices, take out 2 tablespoons and set aside so it can come to room temperature.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the pulp as well, and bring it to room temperature before using.  

Once all the ingredients have come to room temperature, place the cheese in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer(on high speed)till creamy.  Slowly add the blackberry juice, pulp, pinch of salt, and powdered sugar.  Beat till incorporated.  Stir in the shredded coconut.  Place in the refrigerator till ready to use. 

 

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies

makes about 22 cookies / 11 sandwich cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp.

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup molasses

1 large egg, room temp.

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

With an electric standing mixer with whisk(s) attached, beat the butter and sugar till creamy and light, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the molasses and beat till combined, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the eggs and beat till completely incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl again and add 1/3 of the flour and half of the chopped chocolate, beat till just incorporated.  Scrape, then add the other 2/3 of flour and beat till there’s no dry flour left to be seen.  Pour 1/3 cup of sugar onto a plate and set aside.  Take out pieces of the dough and roll it into a 1-inch ball, do not roll the balls till their surface is smooth, I roughly roll it into a ball.  Roll the ball around in the sugar that was set aside, just coat it lightly.  Place on prepared baking sheet till there is no more room, place them about 2 inches apart from each other.  Bake in preheated oven for 13 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let them rest on the pan for five minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Once all the cookies have cooled completely and come to room temperature add the cream filling by using a pastry bag with a large round tip attached.  Take one cookie and pipe on about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream.  Sandwich together with another cookie.  Enjoy!  I recommend refrigerating the cookies when not being eaten. 

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Dried Cranberry and Banana Oat Cookie Bars

  Spring has arrived here in the lovely state of Virginia.  I’m so excited to see things getting color again and it’s only early March!  I feel like spring is jumping in a little early this year, which in all honesty, is fine with me!  

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 See, I usually adjust my photo and food style to the seasons so, I’m happy spring has come cause it means brighter photos and food selection.  I seem to have a harder time thinking up recipes in the darker months of the year.   It’s like my brain decides to stop working or something..  I’ve already thought up a bunch of recipes for spring and summer, I’m just patiently awaiting the time I can try them out when the ingredients involved come into season.

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  These cookie bars were inspired by my love of oatmeal cookies and a sort of goodbye to the colder days.  Oatmeal cookies are always a winter favorite in our family.  We almost never make them in the summer.. Strange I know, it’s just one of those things you do and you don’t know why exactly…  

 Oh, and dried banana chips are totally my new found favorite thing after making these.  Pair them with dried cranberries and it’s just heaven!

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Dried Cranberry and Banana Oat Cookie Bars
Yields 18
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup almond flour
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  5. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 1 large egg
  8. 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  9. 1 cup dried banana chips
  10. 1 cup dried cranberries
  11. 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with parchment paper(leave some overlapping the sides for easy removal).
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all purpose flour, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer with whisks attached, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla and beat till fluffy. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the egg, beat till combined. Scrap down the bowl again and add the flour beating on medium/low speed till incorporated. Add the oats and beat on low till incorporated. Scrap down the sides once more and beat for 15 seconds. Remove beater whisks and stir in, with a wooden spoon, the the dried banana chips and cranberries till combined.
  4. Add the dough to the prepared pan. Shape and press into the pan with your fingers. Bake for 25-28 minutes till it starts to look golden around the edges. Once done, remove from oven and let them sit in the pan for 6 minutes away from the stove. Carefully remove them from the pan by lifting the sides of the parchment paper out. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, add the 1/2 cup white chocolate and heat for 20 seconds. Stir till completely melted. Once the cookies are cooled, cut into bars. Drizzle the white chocolate onto the bars and let it harden.
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