Special equipment: an ice cream maker
For the ice cream: In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the cream, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the star anise and vanilla seeds. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and beat until smooth.
Strain the cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve, and then whisk a third of the cream mixture into the eggs. Immediately whisk the eggs back into the cream mixture. Chill the ice cream base over an ice bath and freeze for 30 minutes.
Using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream base according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze in an airtight container for 1 hour.
For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixer, and mix until the batter is smooth. Turn off the mixer and fold in the 3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, cranberries, 12 ounces chocolate chunks and orange zest using the spatula.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving some room between each cookie, for about 12 cookies total. Press down the tops slightly, and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a shallow dish, combine the 3/4 cup finely chopped almonds with the 3/4 cup finely chopped chocolate. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop some ice cream onto a cookie, and top with another cookie to form a sandwich. Roll in the almond-chocolate mixture and freeze for 10 minutes before serving.