If you take two of the world’s favorite foods and put them together, you’ll get ice cream sandwiches…two-in-one perfection that never goes out of style. National Ice Cream Month (July) is the perfect time to stretch your culinary creativity and try some clever variations on this sweet treat. No matter what kind of ice cream, flavor of cookie or type of add-ins you prefer, there are plenty of great options to explore.
Here's how to prepare the ultimate homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Be a Softie
For best results, ice cream should be slightly softened before you get started. You can let the carton stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes or put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Scoop and Press
Lay out two cookies, top sides down, and place about ⅓ cup of softened ice cream between them. Gently press the cookies together until the ice cream reaches just to the edges. It’s best to work quickly so the ice cream doesn’t melt too much. Don’t worry if the ice cream gets too soft to be workable – just pop the container of ice cream back in the freezer for a few minutes until it’s firm.
Ice Cream Toppings
For a fancy finish, roll the ice cream edges of your sandwich in colorful sprinkles, crushed candy, mini chocolate chips or pretzel bits.
Add a new dimension of flavor by drizzling a little ice cream topping between the cookies and ice cream. Consider hot fudge, butterscotch or a fruit-flavored syrup. For a gourmet finish, melt semisweet chocolate chips in a shallow bowl, then dip part or all of the sandwich in the mixture. Let dry on a sheet of parchment paper until the chocolate starts to set, then put in the freezer.
Now or Later
You can eat your sandwiches immediately, even if the ice cream is still a little soft. They’re also an impressive make-ahead dessert; just wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. The sandwiches should be completely firm after about 4 hours, and they’ll keep well in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Change It Up
Don’t feel limited by the confines of traditional-sized cookies in your homemade ice cream sandwiches. Consider these variations:
- Sandwiches for a crowd: If you’re making a big batch for an upcoming event, bake up cookie batter in two 8"x8" pans. Underbake the cookie dough slightly so the sandwiches will stay soft in the freezer. Once cooked and cooled, remove the square cookies and spread a generous layer of ice cream between each. Let them firm in the freezer, then cut into 9 even rectangles, using a serrated knife dipped in hot water.
- More variations: If you love experimenting, change up the cookie part of the sandwich. Consider packaged vanilla wafers or chocolate wafers, since the small-sized treats will allow you to mix and match fillings, toppings and drizzles to your heart’s content. Really, anything sweet can be used to sandwich your ice cream: brownies, cookie dough, graham crackers…or a cupcake cut in half. You can get even more adventurous using Rice Krispies™ Treats, waffles or doughnuts.
Ice Scream, You Scream
Mix it up with these ice cream sandwich creations:
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Cream Sandwiches: If dairy’s not your thing, you can create a vegan alternative with delicious results. Start with vegan chocolate chip cookies and fill them with your favorite recipe for coconut cream, which is made by mixing and freezing coconut milk, maple syrup and a splash of vanilla. After the cookies are assembled, roll them in coconut flakes to give your vegan creations a taste of the tropics.
- Caramel & Pretzel Ice Cream Sandwiches: If you’re a fan of salty and sweet combinations, this one is for you. Use vanilla cookies as your base, then layer on softened caramel ice cream. Add a pop of salt and crunch by rolling finished cookies in bits of broken pretzels. For an even more decadent touch, drizzle the top of the cookies with melted caramel, then sprinkle on a pinch of flaky sea salt.
- Monster Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches: Bigger is always better in the world of desserts. Start with “monster” cookies that are at least 6 in diameter. Add softened vanilla cream, then roll the edges of the sandwiches in mini chocolate chips or mini candy-coated chocolates.
- Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches: The iconic dessert of summertime is transformed into colorful sandwiches. Start with soft sugar cookies and fill them with strawberry ice cream. For a burst of vibrant color and fruity flavor, roll the ice cream edges in crushed, freeze-dried strawberries. Dip half of each completed sandwich in melted white chocolate chips, and top with a few sprinkles of the freeze-dried strawberries.
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