When I first started brain-storming on this endeavor, some ideas came to me very quickly. Plates for Snow White and Tangled came to me so quickly I could barely write down all of my ideas. Wreck It Ralph? Not so much. Actually, to be more accurate, I had too many ideas. When the plot of a movie largely revolves around food and food-related puns, it is a little bit more difficult to extrapolate away from the subject and then have to still end up back there.
This is all a round about way of saying that I came up with a solid idea for this movie only a few days before I was scheduled to start working on it. I had been going ‘round and ‘round, because I was feeling obviously compelled to do something sweet, but I didn’t just want to do a 10-layer cake. There had to be something specifically thematically appropriate that would. It wasn’t until I settled on the idea of a ‘Hero Sandwich’ that I really started figuring out where I was going with it.
And I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a new ice cream maker.
In place of a hoagie bun, I made oversized eclairs and came up with three flavor combinations that, while not groundbreaking, fit into the theme and were quite tasty.
Firstly, I knew I wanted to do something that involved sour flavors as a nod to Sour Bill, King Candy’s henchman. I chose to make a lemon ice cream with a sour strawberry jam to accompany it, trying my hand at using citric acid for the first time in the process. Secondly, I went with a classic s’mores flavor. Ralph may hate chocolate, but everyone else loves it and I could eat pretty much anything s’mores-related. I went with a toasted marshmallow ice cream, milk chocolate ganache, and a salted graham cracker crumble. Thirdly, I chose one that is themed after the climax of the film; a great moment where Ralph sacrifices himself by falling toward the Mentos stalagtites hanging precariously over a diet cola lake. I made a fresh mint ice cream and a cola reduction syrup to drizzle over it.
There’s not a lot else to say about this one, honestly. It’s a great movie and I ended up making a pretty awesome but messy dessert. Let’s plunge forward with the recipe!
Ice Cream ‘Hero’ Sandwiches
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours total
Cooling/Freezing Time: 18 hours (day ahead)
Making The Vanilla Ice Cream Base (Taken from The New York Times):
4 cups heavy cream
2 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1. In a small pot, simmer cream, milk, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool mixture to room temperature. Mix in any flavors you want to add at this time.
Making The Mint Ice Cream:
1/3 of ice cream base
1/4 fresh mint leaves
5 Mentos candies
Green food coloring ( I use Americolor gels in squeeze bottles, but any kind will work)
Pulse the Mentos in food processor until they are broken up. Mine were kind of stale, so they were almost dusty. Add in the fresh mint leaves and the green food coloring and continue to pulse. I tend to always pulse a food processor, but it’s entirely possible it’s because my food processor is old and it isn’t very good any more. Either way, pulsing doesn’t allow the food to push away from the blade too much as it spins. The resulting paste can be stirred into one third of the ice cream base and then allowed to cool completely.
Making The Lemon Ice Cream:
1/3 of ice cream base
Yellow food coloring
Zest and juice the lemons and place them both in a bowl. Add in the yellow food coloring. Stir the lemon mixture into one third of your ice cream base and then allow to cool completely.
Making The Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream:
1/3 of ice cream base
1 bag mini marshmallows
Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle one half of a bag of mini marshmallows onto the paper and then broil until they start to puff and get brown. Do not walk away from the oven, because this will happen very quickly. Fold the toasted marshmallows into the ice cream base and then allow to cool completely.
Churning The Ice Cream:
Working with one flavor at a time, churn ice cream in a clean and fully frozen bowl. This process will take about 30 minutes for every flavor you make. Place the soft serve ice cream in a plastic container and freeze for at least 8 hours.
Making The Eclairs:
120 grams (8 1/2 tablespoons) butter
120 grams (1/2 cup) whole milk
120 grams (1/2 cup) water
145 grams (1 cup) bread flour
Heat the milk, water, and butter until the butter is fully melted and is just starting to steam. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the flour all at once and quickly stir until it is completely incorporated. Continue heating the mixture for another 2 minutes to dry out some extra moisture. The bottom of the pan should form a film of choux.
Remove the choux and transfer it to your mixer bowl. Allow it to cool for several minutes. Start adding eggs once at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough on a medium speed until the dough gets smooth. You will know the dough is ready when you get the dough to drop in a ‘v’ shape from a rubber spatula.
Scoop choux dough into a pastry bag. I didn’t use a tip because I wanted an ‘bread loaf’ effect, but if you are going to use a tip, make it a large star-shaped one with ridges. The ridges will help with the rise on the pastry in the oven. Place a piece of parchment on a sheet pan and then pipe the pastry out into evenly-sized oblongs.
Bake the pastry at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 375 for an additional 15-20 minutes. Do not open the oven at all during baking. If the steam escapes the oven, the pastry will deflate and stay soft. You want them to be browned and crispy when you pull them out of the oven. Allow the eclairs to cool completely before slicing each in half lengthwise. Set them aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Making The Cola Reduction Syrup (For the Mint Ice Cream Sandwich):
1 16 oz bottle Coca Cola
Pour the soda into a small saucepan and reduce on the stove top to a syrup, approximately 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool.
Fresh Whipped Cream (For The Mint Ice Cream Sandwich):
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Pour heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl and whisk on high until stiff peaks form. Fold in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Keep cold until you are ready to make sandwiches.
Making The Milk Chocolate Ganache (For the Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream Sandwich):
1 cup whole milk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Place the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. Heat the whole milk on the stove top until it starts to bubble around the edges. Remove the milk from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let the mixture sit for at least two minutes and then whisk to incorporate the two together. It looks like it isn’t going to work at first, but keep going and you will end up with a rich and shiny chocolate sauce. Set the ganache aside until you need it. It can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave.
Making The Italian Meringue (For the Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream Sandwich):
6 egg whites (leftover from the eclairs)
1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Add the water and one cup of the sugar into small saucepan. Stir together and then don’t touch again. Cook over medium heat to 248 degrees. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites: pour egg whites into clean mixer bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and then turn the mixer to high and whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the mixer to low and slowly drizzle in the cooked sugar syrup, aiming for the space between the whisk attachment and the side of the bowl. Once all the sugar syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to high again and continue to whip until large and shiny. Move to bowl and set aside until you are ready to assemble your sandwiches.
Making The Salted Graham Cracker Crumble (For The Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream Sandwich):
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
Pinch of sea salt
Stir all the ingredients together and pat onto a piece of parchment. I used quite a bit of sea salt to counteract all of the sugar in the s’mores ice cream sandwich. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake until the mixture browns. Pull it out of the oven and set aside to cool completely.
Making The Sour Strawberry Jam (For the Lemon Ice Cream Sandwich):
2 cups frozen strawberries, thawed
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons citric acid
Cook the strawberries and the sugar together on the stovetop, stirring frequently, until it reaches a temperature of 220 degrees. Remove from the heat and stir in the citric acid. You may want to add more of less of this ingredient, depending on how sour you would like your jam to be.
Making Simple Icing (For The Lemon Ice Cream Sandwich):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
Whisk together in a bowl until smooth. Set aside until you are ready to assemble.
Putting The ‘Hero’ Sandwiches Together:
Place three generous scoops of mint ice cream on bottom half of eclair. Drizzle the ice cream with the cola reduction syrup and then place the top of the eclair on the ice cream. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and fresh cherries.
Spread the bottom of the eclair with a large spoonful of meringue. Use a kitchen torch to toast it slightly. Drizzle some of the warm chocolate ganache on and then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Place three generous scoops of toasted marshmallow ice cream on the meringue. Drizzle the ice cream with addition chocolate ganache and then place the top of the eclair on the sandwich. Garnish with more toasted meringue, chocolate ganache and then graham cracker crumble.
Sour Strawberry Lemon:
Spread the bottom of the eclair with a generous portion of sour strawberry jam. Place three generous scoops of lemon ice cream on the jam and then top with more strawberry jam. Place the top of the eclair on the sandwich. Garnish the vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles.
Overall, this was so much fun to make. I really had fun building these giant melty ice cream sandwiches, and they tasted very satisfying. The sourness of the strawberry jam and the saltiness of the graham cracker kept either of those sandwiches from being too heavy and sweet and the combination of Coke and Mentos was quite a bit more tasty and refreshing than I expected. This would be a great treat to make with kids or for a summer barbecue. They are cold and sweet; decadent and even a bit, dare I say, sinful.
I hope you enjoy them!