Welcome to Biscuit Week, a special time set aside to cherish the most buttery and beloved of all quick breads.
In theory, buttermilk biscuits should make fantastic sandwiching agents for ice cream sandwiches. In reality, they just don’t work out as well as you hoped, since tender biscuits tend to crumble in the presence of melting ice cream. Did knowing this stop me from trying, and failing, to construct a buttermilk biscuit ice cream sandwich over and over and over again? Of course it didn’t. I wanted biscuits and ice cream, damn it, and I wasn’t about to be deterred. I just needed to build a better mousetrap. And that’s what I did.
The reason all my initial experiments failed is that traditional buttermilk biscuits are just not strong enough. So instead of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, I needed to get myself a better biscuit: still with that same buttermilk tang and pillowy softness, but a wee bit sturdier. Such a biscuit exists! They’re called angel biscuits, and they’re essentially buttermilk biscuits that require a little more time, a little more effort, and a little bit of yeast to give them some extra “oomph.” I don’t stress myself out too much about working the butter with my hands into perfect, pebble-sized pieces. I just chop up the butter, add it to the dry ingredients in a stand mixer set to low, and let those little buttery nuggets rattle around like they’re in a rock tumbler. After an overnight rest (or longer) so that the dough can work some enzymatic magic on itself (long story that others tell better than I can), the dough is rolled out, folded onto itself, and rolled out again to create what I like to call “microlamination,” resulting in a biscuit that is both sturdy and flaky.
Since I don’t own an ice cream maker, I made a semifreddo instead, a silky mixture of whipped cream and egg yolks that’s more like a frozen mousse. To be honest, I actually prefer its light, velvety texture to ice cream in this scenario. I decided to sweeten it with honey and fold in lots of crunchy brown butter bits. Seriously, what’s better than biscuits with butter and honey? Nothing. Nothing is better. Not even sex, nor sex with butter and honey.
Though I built this recipe to function like a proper ice cream sandwich—that is, one that you assemble and then pop in the freezer again to set—I find myself unable to wait once the biscuits come out of the oven, and I keep splitting them open on a plate, smearing them with a fat pat of semifreddo, and eating them like an absolute savage. All of this time, all of this effort, and yet I have learned nothing. Good biscuits can make you crazy like that.
- 1 egg
- 6 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup brown butter solids
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
Whisk the egg, egg yolks, honey, and salt in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over large saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water) and whisk violently until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and doubled in volume. How long this will take all depends on how strong you are and how much stamina you have—if you use a handheld electric mixer, you can get that down to about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add brown butter solids and vanilla, and continue whisking until cool.
Whip the cream until it reaches stiff peaks; fold into the yolk mixture in three additions. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish that has been lined with at least three layers of plastic wrap. Smooth out, then cover the top with another three layers of plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface. Freeze overnight.
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 10 Tbsp. butter, plus an extra pat for brushing
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 2/3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
Mix the yeast, water, and sugar together in a small cup; set aside.
Cut the butter into tiny cubes, and throw into the bowl of a stand mixer with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and shortening. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the yeast and buttermilk and continue mixing for one more minute. Put in a large container or zip top bag and refrigerate overnight.
Place the dough on the counter for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Roll out on top a large sheet of parchment into a rectangle-ish shape (it doesn’t need to be perfect) that’s about 1/2" thick. Using the parchment to assist you, fold the dough in thirds like a brochure. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then fold the edges into the center. Flip over and roll out into a rectangle a bit bigger than 9" by 13". Use a pizza cutter to trim off the edges, then cut the dough into squares (size: up to you). Move the parchment to a baking sheet, spread the biscuits out a bit, cover loosely in plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When the biscuits have risen, bake them for 12 minutes, then brush the tops with a bit of melted butter, sprinkle with salt, and bake for another 3-5 minutes until golden.
To serve: lift the semifreddo out of the baking dish, remove the plastic wrap, and cut into biscuit sized squares. Split the biscuits (either hot or room temperature), top with a dollop of honey, and add semifreddo. Serve immediately.