"They stick to your fingers."
I feel like that should be the tag-line of this post because in my heart, that is the most important point of adding another ice cream sandwich recipe to the reams you can find elsewhere on the internet. Yes, there are other ice cream sandwich recipes. No, they don't all stick to your fingers the way these do.
Over the last two weeks I've consumed more ice cream than is reasonable for any thinking human girl. I mean, where my waist is concerned, we aren't speaking. My friend Caileigh was in town and had never had Ben & Jerry's Tonight Dough ice cream, then we had to show her Bergey's Dairy (home to the best ice cream of my childhood) and then we had to have ice cream at some other point. And then the day she left, another friend who was riding with Caileigh shot-gun in her front seat, called me:
"We should grab dessert before you have to leave."
"What about a box of popsicles? I already have to stop at Walmart so my brother can run an errand."
"Caileigh wants ice cream."
"But we've had so much ice cream this week!"
"Ice cream sandwiches."
It only took those two words: ice-cream and "sandwiches" to totally break down my defenses. "Oh yeah!" I agreed. "The kind that stick to your fingers!"
And that, people, is why at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon a whole posse of my friends and I were standing outside a Walmart tearing the paper from store-brand ice cream sandwiches. Of course I got to wondering what it would take to achieve the classic stick-to-your fingers effect of the chocolate ice cream sandwich wafers. I mean, I've made ice cream cookie sandwiches where you just smush a generous scoop of ice cream between two giant cookies. We've all had that, okay. And I'm not talking about brownies a la mode either. Ice cream sandwiches are different. They aren't cookie. They aren't cake. When you bite into one they are soft enough that the ice cream doesn't squirt out the side and they're firm enough that they don't fall apart as if you'd frozen a slice of birthday cake. They're soft without being spongey, firm without being hard. They're a category entirely unto themselves and the idea that they'd stick to your fingers is essential. I decided to start with some research and then try to make them myself. Which meant recipe testing and more than one batch of homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Research quickly turned into frantic, periodic texts to Caileigh who had since gone home to Indianapolis: SO THE FIRST THING IS IT ISN'T REALLY COOKIE IT'S CAKE. This, after I tried Martha Stewart's recipe for ice cream sandwiches. I mean, the chocolate cookie was good - I don't deny that. But when I put it into the freezer (because, duh, ice cream) they got hard and snappy. Back to the internet. Some sources suggested baking the cookie as a sort of shortening-based shortbread because, unlike butter, shortening doesn't freeze? But the whole idea of a rolled-out cookie didn't sound correct to me. Besides, I was not about to mix up a batch of shortening-based cookies. That is entirely against every fiber in my belief in real foods. It seemed that all over the internet, nobody had been able to come up with a version of ice cream sandwiches that wasn't a roll-out cookie, wasn't shortening-based, and didn't get hard in the freezer. And above all, NOBODY HAD ONE THAT STICKS TO YOUR FINGERS. In a fit of frustration I shut my laptop and thought hard. What is the one baked item that proper ice cream sandwiches most resemble? Jellyroll cake. Only not, you know. Less like cake, more like cookies. I googled a slew of inadvisable things: how to make cake denser. How to make cookies more like cake. And then I just hung it all, grabbed the first chocolate jellyroll cake recipe I could find, omitted things here, adjusted things there, and spread it thin in a pan. When it came out of the oven, things looked promising. I turned it out, cut it in half, sandwiched strawberry ice cream in that baby, and left it in the freezer overnight. In the morning...success! The cookies which had been in the freezer overnight were beautifully al dente. Thin enough, bendy enough, firm enough, tender enough. Ice cream sandwich wafer perfection. Guys, my excitement knew no bounds as I did the final test. I sliced the block of cookie-cake and ice cream into bars and picked one up. My fingers came away sticky and covered in a chocolate film just like the film so vital to the ice cream sandwich experience. So I hurried to take photos and compile this blog post so you don't have to wait; get to the kitchen and mix up a batch. Nostalgia is waiting.
Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches
makes a dozen good-sized bars
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups dark cocoa
1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or coffee extract
1 quart ice cream of choice (I used strawberry)
1.) In a large bowl mix together eggs and melted butter, then add in the sugar and coffee extract. Beat until pale yellow and well-mixed.
2.) In a smaller bowl mix together salt, flour, and cocoa. Add to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
4.) Line large, rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper, cutting a large enough piece for the edges to overhang the baking sheet.
5.) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread prepared batter into baking sheet, being sure to spread to all corners evenly.
6.) Bake for about ten minutes or until it springs back from a light touch. Remove from oven.
7.) Remove ice cream from freezer to fridge to slightly defrost.
8.) Allow the cool slightly in pan before turning out onto a large cutting board. Allow to cool another few minutes, then remove parchment paper and cut sheet "cookie" in half across its width. When completely cool, spread softened ice cream over one half. Place second half on top and gently press down.
9.) Move entire, giant sandwich onto a parchment-lined plate or tray and freeze for at least two hours or overnight.
10.) When ready to serve or store, slice giant sandwich into at least twelve bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container until ready to enjoy!