Even though my father was the chef, my mother would always allow me to help her bake desserts in the kitchen on the weekends. Whenever she decided to bake, I was always there, sneakily waiting for her to pass me the empty bowl to lick clean of whatever remained. Not an easy feat when you have three siblings.
Cookies and ice cream are, I believe, the greatest combination in a dessert, ever. What’s better than that is putting them together to make an ice cream sandwich. The only ice cream sandwiches I ever had when I was a kid were from the neighbourhood ice cream truck and they were always in plastic wrap. Times have changed, no more chasing after the ice-cream truck; I can make my own. This is truly the best combination – the cool creaminess of ice cream and the soft chewiness of cookies – my death row dessert, for sure.
MAKES 12 COOKIES AND AROUND 750G ICE CREAM
For the coconut banana ice cream
120ml canned coconut cream, frozen in an ice-cube tray
4 ripe bananas, roughly chopped and frozen
1 tsp maple syrup
pinch of salt
For the cookies
300g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
100g virgin coconut
100g soft dark or light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
50ml coconut milk (from the coconut can)
100g dark chocolate chips or a 100g bar, chopped into 5mm pieces
1 tbsp coconut oil
To start, begin by placing your frozen coconut cream, bananas, maple syrup and salt in a blender or food processor and blend on a low speed for a few seconds. This may require you to stop every few seconds to mix by hand and release the frozen bits that stick to the walls. If you have a hand blender, this may be easier for you. You want to keep the frozen consistency, so resist adding any liquid and all will work out perfectly.
Keep blending until the frozen mixture is the consistency of a thick, soft-serve ice cream, then transfer to a bowl and place in the freezer for 25–30 minutes.
On to the cookies. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Have two big bowls ready.
Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda and powder) to one bowl and whisk with a fork a couple times to break it up and mix everything evenly. Place the bowl to the side.
Add the coconut oil and sugar to the other bowl and begin to mash and mix the two together. This may take a few minutes. Once the sugar and coconut oil combine you’ll have a thick sugary paste. Add your vanilla extract and milk and mix together.
Now, add your dry ingredients to the wet and fold all the ingredients together. Get your hands in there to bring it all together. Just before the mixture starts to look like dough, add half the dark chocolate chips, or chopped pieces, and mix into a ball of dough.
Using your hand, scoop out a palm-sized amount of dough and roll it into a ball with both hands then place on a baking tray. The balls need to have lots of room between them – about 7–10cm (the size of your fist). Press each ball down lightly. Bake in the oven for 12–14 minutes until light brown on top and around the edges and the centre is baked through, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
When you’re ready to serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer and allow it to thaw a little before scooping, if needed. Don’t wait too long as the ice cream will melt quickly. Make sure it is still solid but easy enough to scoop. Sandwich the cookies together with ice cream and freeze again for 15–20 minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile melt the remaining chocolate. Set a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water or the chocolate will overheat and split. Keep over a low heat and add the tablespoon of coconut oil. Next, add the chocolate chips and begin to mix, allowing the chocolate to melt. Dip each cookie sandwich into the melted chocolate and serve immediately, or store in the freezer in an airtight container for up 3 days.
Use the leftover coconut milk from the can to make your own yoghurt, replacing the cashews for coconut, or place in a container, freeze and use for curry later in the week.
Extract from More Plants, Less Waste by Max La Manna, published by Yellow Kite, £20
Photography by Andrew Burton