Why It Works
- Using an especially rich chocolate shortbread ensures the cookies remain soft and do not force ice cream out the sides of the sandwich when bitten.
- Tempering the ice cream, spreading it out in a pan, and refreezing it allows you to precisely cut blocks that are the same size as the cookies.
The ice cream sandwich is sure as heck trendy these days. You can get varieties such as red velvet and carrot cake, but I'm still a loyal fan of the classic chocolate shortbread rectangle. All throughout grammar school, I looked forward to the lunchtime ice cream cart which would drop off milk crates of Nutty Butty's, Italian ice, Fudgsicles, and ice cream sandwiches in the hallway outside the classroom door. (In retrospect, this doesn't seem like the wisest food choice for a school to hand deliver to its students.)
If I was particularly wealthy that day, I'd splurge the quarter and get the show-stopping peanut Nutty Butty ice cream cone. But I was a cheap eight-year-old, so I'd often pick the less expensive ice cream sandwich, which was still awesome and even better when I eyed a double chocolate one in the crate. But would they let us sit in the classroom to let all that ice cream puddle onto our seats and desks? No way. After the delivery we'd be unleashed to the playground to burn off the sugar rush before heading back to class (very smart planning on their part).
Recently I had the chance to make a homemade version of this classic ice cream sandwich while I was testing recipes for a really cool cookbook full of hip dessert tables called Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It by Amy Atlas. I was surprised to find out how easy they are to make yourself. All you're really making are the cookies. Once you've made the dough for the chocolate shortbread, you roll it out, cut the rectangle shapes, poke the cookies with holes, and bake. For the ice cream filling, simply press slightly softened ice cream into a lined pan, freeze until solid, then cut the ice cream to fit the cookies. This recipe gives all the measurements you need to make the job practically brainless, all the way down to the adorable holes that are docked into each cookie.
In order to get that slightly softened texture of the cookie, wrap the sandwiches well and let them rest in the freezer overnight (which also makes it a terrific make-ahead dessert). And if you're not feeling as retro as I was, you can personalize these and make them as trendy as you want by using your favorite ice cream and some chopped nuts pressed onto the sides.
1/2 gallon ice cream, slightly softened (see notes)
2 2/3 cups (about 13 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup (3 1/2 ounces) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
20 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to overhang the sides. Press ice cream into pan and smooth top. Freeze until solid, at least 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream sugar with butter on medium speed until combined and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Mix in yolks and then vanilla. Mix in dry mixture until just combined. Divide dough into 2 pieces and pat each piece into a 5-inch square, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface and working with one piece of dough at a time, roll dough into an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Along the long side, use ruler to cut into 2-inch lengths (you should have 6 pieces). Cut each length in half, creating twelve 4- by 2-inch cookies. Use a flat spatula to place cookies onto prepared pans. Using the pointy tip of a thermometer, poke about 15 holes into cookies. Bake until cookies are firm, about 10-12 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Cool completely.
Remove ice cream from pan and trim the edges to make a neat rectangle. Using the same technique as with the dough, cut the ice cream into twelve 4- by 2-inch rectangles. Sandwich the ice cream with the cookies. Wrap the assembled sandwiches separately in parchment paper or foil, and store overnight or serve immediately.
9- by 13-inch pan, ruler
I used chocolate ice cream, but use your favorite! When you trim the ice cream, make sure to leave yourself an 8- by 12-inch rectangle. While they can be served right away, the texture of the assembled sandwiches is best if allowed to rest in the freezer overnight. This will allow the cookie to soften slightly.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 31g||40%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||92%|
|Total Carbohydrate 67g||24%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 35g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||3%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|