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Tips and tricks for making the best sandwiches at home.
You'd think that something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich would be easy. Two chocolate chip cookies, plus a scoop of ice cream, done. What more could possibly be involved?
But if you've ever made such a thing at home, you'll know the reality doesn't quite live up to the Chipwiches, Big Wheels, and Tollhouse Sandwiches of childhood. That's because old-school chocolate chip cookies are meant to be consumed at room temperature; once frozen, they become rock hard and bland, their full flavor muted in the cold. Double them up around a scoop of ice cream and you'll need to unhinge your jaw and chip a tooth just to get a bite.
It takes a special cookie to stand up to the freezer. You need one that's thin enough for sandwiching, and it also needs to be crunchy but tender and flavorful even at 0°F. Fortunately, it's easy; all it takes is a one-two punch of malted milk powder (a.k.a. the umami bomb of dessert) and a splash of fresh milk.
Together, these ingredients shift the flavor and texture of the cookies into something that tastes better when frozen, toasty and crunchy rather than bland and hard. And, of course, to complete the look, you'll need mini chocolate chips. I may be a die-hard for chopped chocolate in a classic chocolate chip cookie, but mini chips are just the right size for frozen cookies, since larger chips and chunks can present some textural challenges when frozen.
Initially, the cookie dough starts out like any other, with butter and brown sugar (plus malted milk powder) creamed until fluffy and light. But, instead of adding an egg, I mix in flour, vanilla, and milk.
Adding the flour up front helps limit gluten development by coating it in fat, while the vanilla and milk loosen the cookie dough into something closer to a cake batter, which will encourage the cookie to spread more in the oven. This produces a thinner cookie better suited to being doubled up in an ice cream sandwich.
After you've folded in the mini-chips, a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop is the fastest, easiest way to divide the "dough" into even portions—just be sure to level each scoop against the side of the bowl.
With a little water to grease your palms, flatten the dough into a thick disc. This creates a more uniform shape, so the cookies spread symmetrically, but it also provides a flat "shelf" to hold a few extra mini-chips, giving the cookies a snazzy, commercial look.
The cookies are baked until puffed and golden all over, but still a little soft so that they're crunchy, not crumbly, when frozen. While they're still warm, I sprinkle more mini-chips on top to fill in any bare spots that need some extra love.
When the cookies have cooled to room temperature, transfer them to an airtight container and freeze until needed. This will help minimize melt when the ice cream is sandwiched between the cookies.
As for the ice cream, we have a lot of options. The cookies can obviously be filled with any ice cream, whether homemade or store-bought, and you don't need me to explain how to scoop ice cream and sandwich it with cookies.
But for those us with Chipwich nostalgia, scoops of ice cream don't quite capture the look and feel of the real thing. To get those perfect wheels of ice cream, I whip up the same ultra light and fluffy no-churn ice cream filling that goes into my homemade Klondike bars.
For ice cream sandwiches, the method remains exactly the same. But instead of cutting the frozen brick of "ice cream" into bars, I use a round cutter instead. If you have a set of nested cookie cutters, it's easy to find the perfect size to match the cookies.
Punching out the ice cream rounds is, surprisingly, a lot faster and easier than scooping, and none of the scraps need go to waste—just gather them up and cram them on a cookie.
After rolling the exposed edges in some extra mini-chips, no one will know which ones were perfect rounds and which ones were cobbled together from scraps.
The ice cream sandwiches can be enjoyed right away or individually wrapped and then tucked into an airtight container to freeze long-term (they'll keep at least a month in the freezer). When fully frozen, the cookies will be crunchy and tender, not hard, so you won't have to worry about chipping a tooth or having the ice cream squish out the sides with every bite.
Instead, you'll have the perfect ice cream sandwich: your favorite filling—whatever that might be—sandwiched between two flavorful chocolate chip cookies.
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