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I might be the only weirdo who never ran out into the middle of the street, unaware of oncoming traffic when the melody of the ice cream truck snuck through car horns, sirens, and idling engines. I grew up in total fear of strangers, having a mother who'd drilled "stranger danger!" and "Ojo, ¡mucho ojo!" into my psyche like a hot brand on a steer's unsuspecting rump. Even though I did like to give myself a cheap adrenaline rush by hiding in clothing racks at the mall when mom wasn't looking, I was frightfully timid and highly suspicious of the ice cream man. I had cast him and his kin as one of the faces of America's Most Wanted, luring children with his music like the Pied Piper did the rats.
And with that charming introduction into my twisted imagination, cobwebbed with the filaments of horror movies and R.L. Stein series read in secret under a tented floral print sheet and a pink flashlight, I will say that one of the most pleasurable, carefree, normal childhood pleasures I cling to are ice cream sandwiches. Paper wrapped, soggy cookie-walled, and filled with stark white vanilla, those classic two-toned treats herald summer with all its swings, roller skates, neon pink sunburns, and knee scrapes.
All grown-up now, ice cream sandwiches are among my favorite treats to make for parties. I usually set up a tray of warm cookies, a few tubs of ice cream, and a bowl of shiny melted chocolate so that guests can reach in and assemble their own; very casual and comfortable. The cookie flavors rotate, but I gear towards sturdy cookies with some chew, and, as for the ice cream, standards like vanilla and chocolate are great to have on hand, but my penchant for boozy desserts usually results in a few jiggers of bourbon sneaking their way into the ice cream.
The cookies in this recipe are brown sugar-based for that chewiness I mentioned, plus, brown butter for depth and nuttiness. Smashed bananas, toasted wheat germ, and a spicy trio of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg morph the cookies into a banana bread-like concoction that pairs perfectly with bourbon ice cream, crunchy walnuts, and chocolate dip. Assemble these in advance, or have your friends build their own; either way, everyone will scream for ice cream.
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