The Absolutely, Positively, Best Way to Make a Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich
The only thing that makes a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie better, in my humble opinion, is a scoop of ice cream wedged between it and another cookie. Sure, ice cream is wonderful, and so are cookies, but together they make a Very Important Dessert, one that requires some strategy to assemble flawlessly. But who said important things are easy? It pays to go the distance here, people.
And in my not-so-humble opinion, there is only one right way to make a great ice cream sandwich. There are many wrong ways, but only one that will give you perfect ice cream cookie sandwich bliss. Listen up, and attend closely; your ice cream sandwich is calling.
The Secret of a Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich
The “secret” of a perfect ice cream sandwich is small, but counterintuitive.
Hot cookie. Cold ice cream.
When well-meaning people make ice cream sandwiches at home, they all too often start the other way around, with firm cookies and soft ice cream. It makes sense, right? You want firm support in a cookie base and soft, spreadable ice cream. How does your sandwich come together, otherwise?
But, people, we’re not making peanut butter sandwiches. This is an ice cream sandwich, and ice cream is going to melt. Ice cream will only get softer, and a fresh-baked cookie is only going to get harder. They’re moving in opposite directions, existentially speaking.
The trick of an ice cream sandwich is to catch that fleeting instant when the cookie and the ice cream are in the same momentary stages of their life cycles — possessed of nearly identical consistencies — and to achieve the moment when you bite into a hot, gooey cookie, and find cold ice cream poised on the precipice of dissolving, but for a hot second still the same texture and firmness as the cookie.
Then they become cookie-ice cream nirvana. They are more than the sum of their individual parts; they are no longer Ice Cream and Cookie, separate beings — they are Ice Cream-Cookie-SANDWICH. Yes, that is what we want!
In order to do this, you need to start them at opposite points, existentially. The cookie should be as soft as possible; the ice cream cold and hard. Wind them up; let them go on their downward journey of entropy. They will rapidly meet in the middle and give the kiss of peace. Your mouth wants to be there when that happens.
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes
Cookie dough, which in my world means chocolate chip
Ice cream, any kind but obviously vanilla is best
Ice cream spade, large metal spoon, or spatula
Bake cookies. Bake a batch of cookies, but it's key to slightly under-bake them. For chocolate chip cookies, bake the cookies for about 14 minutes at 350°F, or until just set.
Cool the cookies for no more than 5 minutes. Let them cool for 3 to 4 minutes; they should still be quite hot but just firm enough to handle.
Take your ice cream out of the freezer. Do not remove your ice cream from the freezer until this moment. It should still be quite hard.
Shave the ice cream in strips, not balls. Here's an important part of the process: Scoop or shave your ice cream in long strips — not in big round balls. You want chunky, thin blocks or strips.
Construct the sandwich. Don't spread or scrape the ice cream onto the cookie. Gently lay your thin strips in layers (quickly now!). Press another cookie on top.
Eat your sandwich! Don't delay. Eat immediately.
Repeat. Have another one.
Storage: These aren't made for storage. But if you must store them, you can wrap them individually in wax-paper bags or plastic wrap and put them in a box in the freezer. If you underbake the cookies, they should stay chewy and soft — even when frozen.
Updated from post originally published May 2009.
Go forth and make ice cream sandwiches; you have everything you need now.