The Lamassu ice-cream sandwich

Despite being late spring, the weather where I am in Germany is shockingly hot and soggily humid. It’s not really weather that lends itself to turning the oven on, but it is definitely the weather for ice-cream, so I decided that if I had to do one, I’d do the other. Presenting, the Lamassu ice-cream sandwich. Soft chocolate cookie-biscuit, stuffed with meringue, marshmallows, and chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and designed to look like a Neo-Assyrian palace gatekeeper. It is delicious. And indistinguishable from the real thing.

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Just in case you’re thinking of making it for yourself, I should also point out that it is far too much for one person to eat, and your friends will be happy but confused and suspicious if you text them at 11am begging them to come round and help you eat a slowly melting Lamassu ice-cream sandwich. Learn from my mistakes, and have it entirely to yourself for breakfast instead of sharing it as a mid-morning snack.

I really struggled to make this biscuit recipe perfect: obviously for an ice-cream sandwich you want a cookie, not a biscuit: a biscuit will turn unpleasantly soggy when it comes into contact with the ice-cream. But cookies are far too soft to support their own weight, so this one is somewhere in-between: a bit more brown sugar and a bit less flour and butter per egg than a normal biscuit dough. Of course, halfway through assembling it I realised that you wouldn’t know from the photographs that it was a deliciously soft biscuit that went perfectly with the crunchiness of the meringue and blended seamlessly with the ice-cream, and that I should have made a hard biscuit that was easier for construction purposes. Then I ate it, and I regret nothing.

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The lamassu here is one of the ones from Ashurnasirpal’s palace at Nimrud. A lot of the Neo-Assyrian Lamassu are part bull, but these are part lion. The originals are covered with the Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal, which boasts of the king’s achievements, but I am definitely not talented enough to have iced all that on as well. But I did read the Standard Inscription while I ate it, just to get the proper effect.

In case you’re wondering, by the way, the picture behind the ice-cream is the Vanity Fairy caricature of Austen Henry Layard, the man who excavated the palace of Ashurnasirpal and wrote an account of it called “Nineveh and its Remains”, despite it principally concerning his excavations at Nimrud. When I was a young undergraduate this caused me far, far more confusion that it should have done, and I’ve resented him just a little bit ever since.

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Anyway, here’s a picture with a print of his original publication showing the excavation of Lamassu at Nimroud. It’s the bottom right image. You may have to squint.

And, as a final point, if you haven’t been to see Michael Rakowitz’s Lamassu on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, you really must. It is absolutely phenomenal, to the extent that it probably shouldn’t be name checked on a waste-of-time blog like this one. But, still, go see it. It’s wonderful.

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