Simple, yet rich vanilla cream frozen in between two wafers has been a household name in Slovakia for as long as I remember. Yes, Ruská zmrzlina (Russian Ice Cream) sends me back to my childhood when it was the best imported ice cream in the socialistic Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Wikipedia tells me that the Russians started to produce their ice cream under the name of Советское мороженое in the 1930s when the commissioner of the Soviet food industry A. I. Mikojan had returned from his visit to the USA with the recipe for American ice cream. Unlike in the States, Советское мороженое was made from fresh milk, not the powdered one.
After WWII the Soviet Union exported its ice cream to most countries of the Communist Bloc, which Czechoslovakia was part of. However, the flow of goods stopped when the USSR disintegrated in the 1990s. Czechoslovakia, too, split in two independent states – the Czech and Slovak Republic.
Russian Ice Cream is still sold in our shops these days, but it is a commercial name for either a Slovak or Czech product. To make it at home, I went through a lot of Slovak cooking websites and chose a recipe for eggless Ruská zmrzlina. As suggested in the recipe, I replaced wafers with shop-bought butter biscuits shaped as rectangles.
Russian-Style Ice Cream
- 200 g butter biscuits (square or rectangular)
- 500 ml whipping cream (33% fat in Slovakia)
- 1 tin sweetened condensed milk (300 ml)
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar (20 g, or 2 tablespoons)
- fresh fruit to garnish
- Line a baking pan (35x27cm≈13,7×10,6in) with a piece of baking parchment. Distribute a layer of the biscuits all around it.
- Pour the chilled whipping cream in a cold bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Little by little, pour in the condensed milk and continue whipping gently as you go. Fold in the vanilla sugar and spread the cream mixture evenly on the biscuits. Cover with another layer of the biscuits. Put in the freezer and let freeze for at least 5 hours.
- To serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer and let thaw for 10 – 15 minutes. It is then easier to cut along the edges of the biscuits to make servings. Garnish them with seasonal fruit. If not used, put back in the freezer where the ice cream will keep for up to a week.