In 2006, mere weeks into launching this internet food blog presence, I shared a recipe for ice cream sandwich cookies that I’d made for a friend’s rooftop birthday party. Oversized, utterly delicious cookies plus a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day, what could go wrong? Alas, several things. First, regular cookies in the freezer become tooth-breakingly hard. Second, assembled ice cream sandwiches that are not returned to the freezer for several hours after filling melt way too fast, mostly down your arm, delighting the bugs around you but perhaps nobody else. Do know that none went to waste, but I think we all agreed it was all just too much, both massive cookies and massive messes of ice cream. Not learning my lesson, I tried again several years later with a slightly softer, but still not soft enough, cookie, yet it was still enough work that I’ve not made them since. I’ve also tried them with brownies (better) and salted caramel crackers (wildly delicious) but I still wanted to get the classic American ice cream sandwich right at home.
Fifteen years later I’m taller (whoops, no), have more time on my hands (yikes, no), smarter (not always), and a much better cook (ding ding ding!), and over the last few months of making friends and family suffer through rounds and rounds of ice cream sandwiches, I have finally created the last classic ice cream sandwich recipe I hope we will ever want or need.
Several things make this perfect: We’re making a hand-whisked, one-bowl cookie that’s (secretly) halfway to a cake, which is why when it comes from the freezer, it doesn’t feel like you’re biting into poured concrete. We’re making it in a single 9×13 pan, then cutting this slab in half and using the very same pan to fill it with ice cream, pressing the halves together for a moderately-sized slab that, once firm again, can be cut into exactly 8 perfectly-sized or 12 petitely-sized (i.e. the size I prefer for kids) ice cream sandwiches. Did you read the one-bowl, one-pan part? The active work of making these is barely 20 minutes; I’ve timed it. What that means is that our summers are about to have a lot more ice cream sandwiches in it, lucky us.
New: I’ve launched a new SK YouTube channel! There will be new recipe video every Wednesday morning through the end of July. If you subscribe to the channel, you won’t miss even one. Here are the first two episodes; I hope you enjoy them:
6 months ago: Brussels and Bacon Frittata
1 year ago: Smashed Potatoes with Sweet Corn Relish
2 year ago: Chocolate Budino
3 years ago: Garlic-Lime Steak and Noodle Salad
4 years ago: Grilled Pepper and Torn Mozzarella Panzanella
5 years ago: The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie, Revisited
6 years ago: Crispy Frizzled Artichokes
7 years ago: Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
8 years ago: Rhubarb Cream Cheese Hand Pies
9 years ago: Asparagus with Almonds and Yogurt Dressing
10 years ago: Fudge Popsicles
11 years ago: Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash
12 years ago: Grilled Shrimp Cocktail and Graham Crackers
13 years ago: S’more Pie
14 years ago: Zucchini Carpaccio Salad
Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces, or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk, any kind
- 1 large egg white
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cups (100 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (20 grams) cocoa powder, any kind (see Note)
- 2 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, or anything else you prefer
Melt butter in a large bowl halfway, then whisk it until fully melted. (This keeps the temperature down.) Whisk in sugar, salt, and milk. Whisk in egg white and vanilla; make sure the egg white is fully mixed; it can be stubborn. Add cocoa powder and baking powder and thoroughly mix. Add flour and stir just until it disappears.
Spoon into the prepared pan in small dollops and spread — an offset spatula is great here — into a thin, even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Purely for classic sandwich aesthetics, dock all over with a skewer. Let cool completely. I transfer mine immediately to the freezer to do this quickly; it takes about 15 minutes. If your ice cream is rock-hard in the freezer, transfer it to the fridge for these 15 minutes so it will be easier to scoop.
Assemble the sandwiches: Once cold to the touch, run a knife around the cookie to loosen it from the pan and use the parchment to slide it out of the pan. Cut in half widthwise. Return the used parchment to the pan; we can use it to help shape the sandwiches. Place the first cookie half back in the pan upside-down over the parchment, and press it against the short edge. Scoop the ice cream in small spoonfuls all over and spread it evenly over. Press second cookie half, right-side-up, onto the ice cream. Use the sides of the pan and the parchment paper to help the ice cream keep its shape in the cookie and place the pan in the freezer.
Freeze for 4 to 6 hours, minimum, and ideally overnight.
To finish: Once ice cream is fully solid again, transfer your ice cream sandwich slab to a cutting board and cut it into 8 or 12 rectangles. Eat or return to the freezer right away.
Do ahead: Ice cream sandwiches keep in a freezer bag or airtight container for 3 months, although some freezers will impart a “freezery” taste sooner.