Have you noticed how popular ice cream sandwiches have become? I’m seeing them everywhere. Ice cream shops that used to focus on scoops are showing off their flavors between cookies. Trikes, pushcarts, and food trucks are selling them in the streets. Restaurants are featuring ice cream sandwiches in multiple flavors as the sole offering on their dessert menus. Why all the fuss? It’s a trend with good reason!
Think about some of the best dessert trends over the last several years. Cupcakes, combine delicate cake with creamy frosting. Whoopie pies showcase a creamy filling between two cakey cookies. And then there’s the macaron, that petite filled French meringue cookie. Sandwiches may be better known for their savory side, but then, think of the oozy grilled cheese. It’s focused on the same concept: a creamy filling in a portable holder that’s oh so easy to eat.
Ice cream sandwiches build on the best of all of these time-honored favorites. The outside can be made from soft cookies, crunchy wafers, or dense, chewy brownies. Inside may be ice cream, sorbet. Ribbons, swirls, nuts, and candies can be folded into the filling, and the sandwich sides may be rolled in goodies, as well. In Sicily, the locals rush off to work in the morning with gelato tucked inside a fresh brioche bun as a portable breakfast. The possibilities are nearly infinite! They’re versatile enough for just about any occasion, and you can make them ahead and store them in your freezer, ready for drop-in visitors or to satisfy mid-afternoon ice cream cravings.
It’s no wonder that ice cream sandwiches have reportedly been around since 1899, sold from pushcarts in New York’s Bowery and at the beach on the Jersey Shore for a penny each. Of all the desserts I made, they are among the most frequent requests.
To mine the possibilities, I’ve written a whole book of ice cream sandwiches called i scream SANDWICH! It includes 40 different combinations of fillings and sandwich holders, from the common to the extraordinary, plus a chart (page 166-167) that helps you come up with your own favorite combinations.
The secrets to a great ice cream sandwich? It starts with the ice cream.
Great texture: either silky smooth or small crystals that melt readily on the tongue.
Cookies or other holders that taste great straight from the freezer.
A ratio of ice cream to holder of about 1:1, meaning the height of the ice cream should equal about that of the cookies combined.
Textural contrast; for example, chewy or crispy outside with a creamy filling, or smooth ice cream pocked with crunchy bits.
Sturdiness, so the ice cream doesn’t squish out the sides when you bite in.
A few ice cream tips:
Get your mixture good and cold before putting it into the ice cream maker. I cool it down in an ice bath, then refrigerate or freeze until it’s super cold but not frozen.
Make sure your KitchenAid® Ice Cream Maker Attachment bowl has been in the freezer for 24 hours before you spin your ice cream.
Listen up! You will hear the whir of the ice cream maker move down to a low register as the ice cream freezes and thickens, moving around the dasher in a block rather than flowing over it. Listen carefully and you will learn the precise sound when your ice cream is ready.
There are lots of ways to sandwich your ice cream:
Scoop it between cookies.
Make a large slab with brownies and cut it to size.
Scoop it onto brioche or hot dog buns, or between toast or waffles, or come up with your own creative ideas!
KitchenAid kindly sent me their Ice Cream Maker Attachment to try out with my KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. You store the attachment in the freezer for 24 hours or more, then mount it right onto your mixer and attach the dasher, so you needn’t store an extra ice cream machine. It has a two-quart capacity, so you can make a large batch for sandwiches and still have some left for scoops and spoonfuls.
For one of my favorite sandwiches, try the Peachy Keen: peaches and cream ice cream on oatmeal cookies. It’s the essence of summer, and the cookies can easily be made gluten free.
Peachy Keen Sandwich
Makes 12 sandwiches
For the ice cream
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) ripe peaches, about 5 medium peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2/3 cup (134 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons mild-flavored honey, such as clover or orange blossom
1 tablespoon tapioca starch or cornstarch
2/3 cup crème fraîche, labne, or plain Greek-style whole-milk yogurt, stirred smooth
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the cookies
3/4 cup (100 g) white whole wheat, whole wheat, or gluten-free oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed (134 g) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (80 g) raisins (optional)
For the ice cream
Stir together the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl. Set aside to get juicy.
Whisk the cream, honey, and tapioca in a medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until it begins to steam and slightly bubble at the edges. Adjust to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a cream sauce, about 1 minute longer; do not fully boil.
Transfer the mixture to a medium metal bowl, then nest the bowl inside a larger bowl of ice and water until cool, taking care not to slosh water into the mixture.
While the mixture cools, process the peaches with all of their juices in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Strain through a standard or fine-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard the solids. Remove the cooled milk from the ice bath and stir in the peaches, crème fraîche, and vanilla until smooth.
Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours. Transfer the bowl to the freezer for the last half hour before spinning it.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturerʼs directions. When it is ready, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Put the butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and use a wooden spoon or a handheld electric mixer to mix until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix
until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture just until everything is well combined, then stir in the oats and raisins, if using.
Spoon or scoop the batter in tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly, to make 24 cookies. Press the cookies with lightly dampened fingers to flatten them slightly—they will spread further as they bake.
Bake until the cookies are light golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them directly to a wire rack to cool completely, sliding a spatula under them if they do not release easily.
Pair the completely cooled cookies with like-size mates. Slightly soften the ice cream. Sandwich a scoop of ice cream between each set of cookie bottoms.
Press gently to squeeze the ice cream slightly beyond the edges. If you wish, smooth the ice cream flush with the cookie edge.
DRESS IT UP: Roll the sides of the sandwiches in chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, or in chopped crystallized ginger.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*
Photographs copyright © 2013 Sara Remington, except image #2 courtesy of Shorpy.com.