Ice Cream Sandwiches: To DIY for

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Who’d ever think of making your own homemade ice cream sandwiches?

After all, it’s easy enough to pick up a box at the supermarket. You can probably get store brand for under $3.

And, aside from that slightly freezer-burned, vaguely fake taste, they’re pretty good. Right?

That’s what I thought, until I made my own ice cream sandwiches last week.

WOW.

Even setting aside the lack of freezer burn and aftertaste of the various preservatives and artificial flavors that go into mass-market ice cream sandwiches, this homemade version of a classic store-bought treat is striking.

I kind of knew, inside my baker’s head, that homemade ice cream sandwiches – like most treats that are homemade – would probably taste better. But inertia kept me on the path of “Make your own cookies and bread; buy ice cream treats at the store.”

Then, earlier this summer, I got an ice cream maker.

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And quickly thereafter, was introduced to this book. Which, during the sweltering days we’ve “enjoyed” this month, has become a very cool bedside companion.

Milk Gelato on Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies, anyone?

Flipping through the book, I wondered where to start. Well, why not right at the beginning? The book’s first recipe is fittingly entitled “Pure Nostalgia – Vanilla Ice Cream on Soft Chocolate Cookie Bars.”

Exactly what I used to cough up a hard-earned dime for at the Good Humor truck.

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I guess the days of 10¢ ice cream sandwiches are long gone, eh?

Anyway, if you have an ice cream maker, it’s absolutely worth it to make your own ice cream for these sandwiches.

Substitute store-bought vanilla ice cream, if you like; but this recipe for vanilla ice cream, with its interesting addition of tapioca starch for thick, smooth texture, is outstanding.

If you’re making your own ice cream, here’s Jennie’s recipe:

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2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or light agave nectar (or light corn syrup, or honey*)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (or minute tapioca, finely ground in a spice or coffee grinder)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or a scant 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*I’ve added these choices beyond what the recipe calls for, for those who don’t want to purchase golden syrup or agave nectar.

Whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk, the sugar, syrup, tapioca starch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the remaining milk, and the cream.

Cook and stir the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge and it begins to steam. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a cream sauce; don’t let it boil.

Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. For best results, the mixture should be very cold. Make it ahead and refrigerate overnight or for up to a couple of days, if desired.

When the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze it in your ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions.

I like to add alcohol to homemade ice cream, to keep it from becoming rock-hard in the freezer. If desired, stir 3 tablespoons rum (vanilla rum is tasty), brandy, or vodka into the ice cream as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker.

Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, and freeze until solid, at least several hours. If you’ve added the alcohol, it’ll still be soft enough to scoop easily. If not, you’ll need to let it soften a bit before using it for ice cream sandwiches.

Speaking of sandwiches – let’s make the chocolate cookies.

Preheat your oven to 350°F, with a rack in the center. Lightly grease a piece of parchment about 12″ x 16″, and place it on a flat work surface.

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In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the following:

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder or all-purpose baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/8 teaspoon table salt

Set the mixture aside.

Place the following in a larger bowl:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat at high speed until well combined and somewhat expanded; the mixture will look a bit grainy, but also fairly creamy.

On low speed, add half the flour/cocoa; then 2/3 cup whole milk; then the remaining flour/cocoa, scraping the bowl between additions.

Can you use lower-fat or skim milk? Of course; the cookies will simply be less tender.

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Dollop the batter all over the prepared parchment paper. Use a spatula to spread it to the edges of the parchment, smoothing it as flat as possible.

Pick the parchment up, and set it into a half-sheet pan (18″ x 13″), or onto a large cookie sheet.

Bake the cookie slab for about 10 minutes, until it just loses its shine. Remove the pan from the oven, and cool the cookie on the pan for about 5 minutes. Cut it in half crosswise to make two rectangles, each about 8″ x 12″.

Trim the edges of each rectangle, if desired; you’ll make neater-looking sandwiches.

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Use a fork to prick the top of the cookie slabs in neat rows, like the top of a traditional ice cream sandwich.

Place the cookie slabs, with their parchment, on a rack or racks to cool completely. When completely cool, wrap well and place in the freezer. If there’s room, freeze them on a baking sheet; it’s good to have a cold surface to work on when you’re making the sandwiches.

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When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, check your ice cream. If it’s rock-hard, get it out of the freezer and let it soften until it’s scoopable. If you’ve added the rum or other alcohol, it’ll be scoopable right out of the freezer.

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Peel the parchment off the backs of the cookie slabs. Place one slab, bottom up, on a cold surface. Spread with ice cream.

Top with the second cookie slab, top side up. Press down firmly to distribute the ice cream evenly between the cookie slabs.

At this point, the ice cream will probably be starting to melt. Put the sandwich back in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, to firm up.

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Use a sharp knife to trim the edges of the sandwiches, if necessary or desired.

Cut the slab into 12 squares.

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Now THAT’S an ice cream sandwich!

Serve immediately; or wrap squares individually in plastic wrap, and store in the freezer.

“So,” you say, “Remind me why I should make my own ice cream sandwiches? Looks like kinda a lot of work…”

It’s true, they’re not quick and easy. But the cookie part is so very chocolate-y; and the ice cream, so strikingly vanilla; the whole such a wonderful amalgam of tastes and textures; AND no artificial ingredients or flavors…

‘Nuf said? If you need more encouragement, I highly recommend Jennie’s book, I Scream Sandwiches. I’m thinking Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard on Oatmeal Cookies Dipped in Dark Chocolate next…

Read, make, and review Jennie’s recipe for Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Print just the recipe.

 For more information on author Jennie Schacht and her book, visit her Web site, Fork & Swoon.

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Paul from Ohio

    “To DIY” for???!!!!!!!! You do grab our attention clever lady! And d____ homemade ice cream sandwiches are truly for me! Thanks for the great reference book – will grab it quick. So glad you finally joined the initiated and got yourself an Cuisinart Ice Cream maker! Surely NOT, just “earlier this summer”!? AND another great recipe to use Lyle’s Golden Syrup – a great ingredient for Chocolate Fudge Sauce as well. Yum Yum

    That’s right, Paul, and I only got one because MJ gave me her old one! But I’m really enjoying it… And I’ll definitely try the hot fudge sauce made with golden syrup sometime – thanks for the tip. PJH

    Reply
  2. Brenda D

    Why mix in the alcohol after freezing in the machine? I’ve been adding it right before I put it into the machine and it works great every time.
    The alcohol would slow the freezing process down and cause the butterfat to over-spin which would lead to a sandy texture. ~Amy

    Reply
  3. Jennie Schacht

    Thanks so much for featuring the Pure Nostalgia ice cream sandwich from my book, i scream SANDWICH! This is the sandwich I remember from the swimming pool of my childhood, and it’s still a favorite. I hope you will enjoy giving it a try!

    Reply
  4. Joni M

    Oh my mouth is watering for these delightful looking treats of summer! I’ve had an ice cream machine for awhile now, but my ice cream is always rock hard and I can’t ever get it just right, so I’m really excited to try this recipe! I don’t usually use eggs in my base but a can of sweetened condensed milk, so if adding alcohol would help to soften it, that would be wonderful! My favorite homemade ice cream has softened cinnamon bits in it which would be wonderful sandwiched with this chocolate outside!

    Joni: the eggs certainly add an unctuous, creamy quality to the ice cream. You can try adding a touch of alcohol to your custard–I’d start with 2 Tbs and see how that helps keep it soft. Happy Ice Cream Making! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  5. Cari

    Is marking the cookies with a fork cosmetic or does it serve a purpose?
    Pressing down certain types of cookies will help them bake more evenly. Using the fork, or other decorative press is a simple way to jazz up the cookies without a lot of effort. ~ MJ

    Reply
  6. Koko

    I am so glad I get these emails……..Good product + good recipes make for a great combination. Thanks KAF

    Reply
  7. Addie

    These look really yummy!! I just got a Cuisanart Ice Cream maker this summer and I want to try the vanilla ice cream recipe. Love the idea of making homemade sandwiches!

    Just curious, could you use a silpat instead of parchment paper for baking the sandwich cookie?
    I would stick with the parchment since silpats tend to insulate the cookies and prevent them form baking correctly. ~Amy

    Reply
  8. Lisa

    FYI – Wilton makes two different ice cream sandwich pans. One makes rectangular cookies and the other makes round. I just got both and will be trying this recipe soon!!!

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  9. Ruth Ann Ryan

    Hint to spread the cookie batter. I found that with stiff batters, if I dampen the spatula, it helps smooth the batter nicely.

    Reply
  10. Kathy

    I’ve been considering getting the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer and this recipe surely gives encouragement. I bet homemade strawberry ice cream with vanilla cake bars would be awesome as well! Remember them from way back when?

    Reply

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