Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches

14 May

“It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Bring. It. On.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what came over me last week. You know that scene in Old School when Will Ferrell has a complete out-of-body experience during the debate, gives a kick-tush speech and then wakes up afterwards having no idea what just happened? Yeah, that was me.

I came home from work, ate dinner, read some cookbooks as usual, and the next thing I knew, I was rolling out dough to make individual chocolate cookies for home made ice cream sandwiches. Then I found myself whipping up a batch of vanilla bean ice cream, and putting together some of the most delicious creations this blog has ever seen. The Hubby walked into the apartment in the middle with the most puzzled look on his face. “What on earth is going on here?” he asked. It was that very question that woke me from my drunken cooking stupor. I literally had no idea what happened over the past few hours, but starting me in the face were a half dozen absolutely beautiful ice cream sandwiches. I suppose my guilty looking puppy face answered his question.

The beginnings of the sandwich cookie

Ever since starting this blog, I’ve been obsessed with creating home-made versions of things you can normally buy at a grocery store – say, S’mores Ice Cream Pie, Classic Hot Fudge or Pinkberry-esque Frozen Yogurt. What can seem like a daunting process at first, these tasks are always the most fun, because at the end, you have a far better home-made version of something that is only mediocre in the store! Plus, by making them at home, you know exactly what goes into them, and baking without preservatives, or added junk, well, it makes the end result that much sweeter! Seeing these ice cream sandwiches come to fruition was really satisfying, and I have to say, gone are the days of buying supermarket brand ice cream sandwiches. Move over Nestle, here we come!

Adding in the flour, little by little…

Before I leave you with this recipe, a few fun facts about ice cream sandwiches. The “modern” version of the ice cream sandwich was invented by Jerry Newberg in 1945 while selling ice cream at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. But, believe it or not, old photos from The New Jersey Shore in 1905 show ice cream sandwiches were popular at 1 cent a piece. I suppose people have always loved ice cream…

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cookies from Serendipity Sundaes; Ice Cream from 365scoops

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Ingredients

(makes 10-12 large cookies)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus extra for greasing cookie sheet

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

Cookie cutter perfect

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to mix. Set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. On a low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and milk until well-blended.

Spread the dough evenly over the parchment paper or cookie sheet, about 1/4-inch thick. Be aware – this is harder than it seems. The dough is sticky, yet when you try and spread it on the greased parchment paper, it’s really slippery. My cookies ended up being thicker than 1/4 of an inch, which actually was quite great, because it was more like a thin brownie/thick cookie sandwich. No matter how you make them, they’ll be delicious.

Look at those soft and delicious cookies

Bake until just set, 10-12 minutes. (If yours are as thick as mine, you’ll need to bake them for approximately 15 minutes instead)

Cool for a couple of minutes, and using a round 3-inch cookie cutter or glass with a large mouth (I used a glass), cut out large cookies close together to make as many as possible.  Let the cookies cool completely. Wrap each one in saran wrap and place in the freezer to chill before making the ice cream sandwiches.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbs vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Check out the beautiful vanilla bean

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Method

In a medium saucepan, heat two cups of half-and-half until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Add the vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly.  Set aside.

In the meantime, in a heat-proof bowl, whisk together the four egg yolks, slowly adding in the sugar until the mixture thickens and turns a pale yellow.

Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, stirring vigorously until well-incorporated.  Pour back into the medium sauce pan and heat until a candy thermometer reads 165 degrees F, or the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spatula. Remove from the heat.

A heaping spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream covers the chocolate sandwich cookie

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing any small clumps that may have formed. Pour in the last cup of half-and-half, and set aside. Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or over night.

Once chilled, pour into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes).

To Assemble…

A few minutes before the ice cream is done churning, remove the sandwich cookies from the freezer and unwrap. Place 6 cookies, face down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Keep the other 6 cookies unwrapped and near by.

As soon as the ice cream is done churning, scoop a heaping portion onto the sandwich cookie, and top with another cookie. Gently press down on the cookie so it affixes to the ice cream. Repeat until you’ve made all 6 ice cream sandwiches.

If you’re feeling particularly sassy (which I was!) feel free to decorate your ice cream sandwiches by adding additional treats. I rolled mine in mini peanut butter cups, which was truly delicious. You could also add healthbar, sprinkles, or your favorite candy. Don’t worry these are absolutely delicious sans candy. In fact, they’re a perfect throwback to the good, old-fashioned ice cream sandwiches of yesteryear.  Enjoy!

And there you have it folks!

The Verdict

I served these at dinner with friends, and despite being stuffed beyond belief from our main course, we all managed to finish our ice cream sandwiches. My parents were in town this weekend and I was given strict instructions from my father to save him an ice cream sandwich. When I gave it to him, his eyes lit up like a little kid, and upon devouring the first bite, all I heard was “Oh Wow!”. Suffice it to say he loved them. The vanilla ice cream is really creamy, and being that it’s a neutral flavor and not too rich, it’s the perfect compliment to the chocolate sandwich cookies. The cookies themselves are sinful as well, nice and soft, almost brownie-like. Together, they are the perfect marriage between chocolate and vanilla. Even better, they keep perfectly well in the freezer for over a week! Enjoy.

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