i'm a foodie, through and through. foodie is defined (by moi) as someone who's immensely interested in all things food - throughout all of the food's supply chain (if you want), i.e. from sourcing the ingredients to finding the perfect recipe to preparing them to serving them, with love, preferably to sweet guests. a foodie would eat something - and only talk about eating it, in the process. a foodie would travel to anywhere in the world and rather bring back a loaf of special cheese instead of a pair of shoes (i mean of course he or she would try to be sneaky and get both... obviously. i mean if it was a matter of life or death... ahem). a foodie would go to extreme lengths to find the perfect, plum vanilla bean, fruity pepper, tart chocolate, zesty heirloom tomatoes, fluffy clotted cream, funky spaghetti squash (even if it's impossible) or firm (preferably strangely colored, i.e. white) aubergine.
last week i had this wonderful, delicious pasta dish at one of my favorite restaurants in zurich. it was so bloody good, perfection, even that i'm still craving it. the dish was called (savour it): 'orecchiette with fresh yellow heirloom tomato sugo and cacio ricotta'. i mean, seriously, they had me at 'orecchiette' (they're my favorite)... and since my new friend from new york, carol, whose amazing blog i've been drooling over forever, will come for dinner this friday together with her boyfriend - eeeep!!! - i wanted to create the exact same pasta dish. and it had to taste just as good. not really a big deal, pasta as such, i hear you thinking. and you're right! because.... i sort of do have some italian blood in me (or so i like to think, with my ticinese mom), so i definitely know
all a decent amount of tricks about pasta making. but the big deal was in fact one single, tiny ingredient that seemed to make all the difference. not the orecchiette (because you could use a simple good spaghetto). or the heirloom tomatoes, extra ripe and firm. but in fact, the topping: the cacio cheese... cacio! i mean, i've heard of 'cacio e pepe' and i've tried it before, on rare occasions. what's not to love? it's salty and creamy and rich and nice. but it never occurred to me that it might require some special cheese or other. pecorino*, yes, i do know and love. but cacio? and cacio ricotta? so i pulled all strings (like got in touch with the most renown cheese expert in switzerland to ask him for advice) to find out where to get bloody cacio. so, because i'm a foodie like that, i might or might not have called a couple of a dozen cheese shops in zurich whether or not they've stocked it (they didn't). and i might or might not have ended up in a minor thunderstorm with my bike because i think i'm sightly obsessed with my cheese hunt... and i might or might not have ended up bribing the cute chefs at the exact same restaurant where i ate the wonder dish last week to sell the cheese to me... i did it all. guilty as charged. but this cacio... let's just say it was all entirely worth it. the lost self dignity, even. because cacio is the best thing since sliced bread.
* i've told you many things about my new love, cacio, now. but if you go google it, don't be disappointed... because it turns out 'cacio' is also a general term for 'sheep's cheese', aka pecorino in italia. on youtube, several italian chefs used pecorino for their 'cacio e pepe' pasta. and yet, there are a few cheeses that are called 'cacio'. it's a bit confusing. i need carbs to think properly. anyway. if you don't find the cheese, use a really good pecorino instead, even the romans wouldn't mind. bloody cheaters. but i'll tell you all that again, when i show you the recipe, cacio e pepe. va bene? deal.
on a sweeter note... there are also ice cream sandwiches. which is, to contrast the cacio ode, the best invention since ice cream, obviously.
ps: now, with the cacio ode, the super cocoa-ey sandwich cookies get lost a little... but if you plan on making ice cream sandwiches, then you should try these cookies. or even if you just want to make good cookies, per se. or even if you just want to enjoy some raw cookie dough. or, think again, maybe especially then (gäll, ki?).
ice cream sandwiches - with super cocoa-ey cookies
cookies adapted from fran's pure chocolate (which i don't have, but would like to possess and take into bed...)
ingredients for the cookies:
180 g (1 1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cups dark, sweetened cocoa (i used the premium suchard one)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
extra flour and cocoa for dusting (combined)
ice cream of your choice (a block works best, so i used plain vanilla, haha)
cream the butter with your hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer together with the sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. add the cocoa powder, mixing on low speed, bit by bit, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. then add the vanilla and egg and mix on until thoroughly combined. add the flour on low speed, until mixture comes together like a dough. remove cookie dough and wrap in plastic and chill until firm (at least 4 hours, or overnight). you can also store the dough wrapped like this for 2-3 days if you want to make it in advance, or store it in the freezer for up to a few months.
when ready, dust your work space lightly with a little flour-cocoa mix. roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thickness, then cut out into any desired shape (occasionally coat the cutter with the flour-cocoa mix, too). arrange on a pan lined with parchment and bake at 180 degrees c / 350 f and bake for about 10 minutes. the cookies will still be soft but crisp up as they cool. once cool, place the cookies in a ziplock and freeze until ready to use.
on a cutting board, cut the ice cream block into 1cm thick layers, then quickly cut out the (same sized as your cookies) shapes and sandwich them between two of the frozen chocolate cookies. immediately put back in the freezer or serve right away. best to serve with some additional kitchen paper... sticky fingers guaranteed. or you might just want to lick your fingers, up to you and your house rules.