Spring is finally here! It was over 70⁰F several days in a row, so I’m officially calling it. Most people crave things like fruit salad or corn on the cob when the weather turns nice, but I want ice cream sandwiches. Something about the sticky ice cream and crispy cookie reminds me of the perfect treat for a warm day. If you’re like me though, ice cream sandwiches never taste as good unless they are homemade. Either by you or someone else.
I decided to switch it up with these sandwiches! Cannoli cream replaces the ice cream here. It is so easy to make, and it’s super flavorful. Cannoli cream is basically ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It takes 30 seconds to whip up a batch. Because ricotta is such a large part of the cannoli cream, I bet you’re wondering how ricotta is made!
Ricotta is typically made from the whey that is a waste product of cheese or yogurt production. (Want a refresher on how cheese is made?) Whey protein is essentially made up of different-sized globs of highly nutritious protein. That is why it is usually used in protein supplements/shakes for strength athletes and recovering medical patients.
Whey is collected from the waste stream of other dairy products, and the ricotta production begins! From the cheese/yogurt-making process, the whey is already pretty acidic (pH 6-6.4), and it is dissolved in water with the minerals, vitamins, lactose sugar, and some casein proteins inherent in the milk and leftover from the coagulation process of the other dairy products. The whey is heated to a high temperature, and around 70⁰C, the whey begins to coagulate. The temperature is increased to 90⁰C, and the coagulation process speeds up. After 10 minutes or so, the process is complete, and the curds will be tight and slightly firm. The curds are removed from the solution by hand skimming. After removing this first curd coagulation, acid is added to create tighter curds from lowering the pH.
It is not as common to create ricotta cheese from strictly whey. It is often a mix of whey and milk or even only milk. There are some amazing recipes for ricotta out there (The Food Lab, Smitten Kitchen) if you want to be ambitious and create your own. Otherwise, get ready to be eating your own cannoli cream within 30 seconds!
Small-Batch Cannoli Cream Cookie Sandwiches
Makes 3 sandwiches
¼ cup ricotta
¼ cup powdered sugar
A splash vanilla extract
A pinch of Kosher salt
A pinch of cinnamon
A handful of chocolate chips (optional)
6 chocolate chip cookies, frozen
1. Mix the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Adjust for flavor. Add extra ricotta if it is too sweet for you or extra powdered sugar if you want more sweet.
2. Mix in the chocolate chips until just combined.
3. Take the chocolate chip cookies out of the freezer and arrange them for sandwich assembly. I like to freeze them first because it makes it easier to handle and creates a chewier texture.
4. Split the cannoli cream among three of the cookies and top with the remaining three cookies. You can eat them now if you can’t wait for the cookie sandwiches to freeze. Because the cookies are frozen it still has a great texture. Otherwise, freeze the sandwiches and let them thaw for a couple of minutes before consuming.
Some extra ideas for your cannoli cream:
Put the cream in waffle cones to create more of a cannoli.
Add other things like sprinkles or almond extract to make different flavors.
Top crackers with cannoli cream to give a sweet/savory profile.
Use it as a cupcake or cake filling.
As for the chocolate chip cookies, I used the recipe from Christina Tosi’s new book: Milk Bar Life. They are super easy and chewy. I would recommend that you check it out!