This summer has made me a little obsessed with ice cream sandwiches. We’re been having a few hot days thrown in with super cloudy and cool days, so my brain has been experiencing a constant flux of inclinations. It sounds a little like this:
It’s hot! Must eat ice cream!
It’s cold! Must nestle in amongst the bakeware in the kitchen and start baking something!
It’s hot again! Must eat ice cream! But I also have cookies!
Wait! I have the greatest idea known to all of humankind!
And, thus, my fascination was born. What started out as a mere stroke of luck, pairing-wise, has now blossomed into a nearly scientific study of what makes an ice cream sandwich great as opposed to just passable (it’s difficult to believe that an ice cream sandwich could be anything less than rhapsodic, I know, but it does happen). The first element of importance is the cookie. It’s not just any cookie that makes for a legendary ice cream sandwich. The cookies bookending an ice cream sandwich must be firm enough to resist crumbling everywhere when bitten into, but not so firm as to actually impede being bitten through when frozen. They must also possess a level of sweetness that borders on almost not being so at all, considering the fact that these are cookies that are going to be eaten in conjunction with sweet, delicious ice cream.
Which brings us to the second element of importance (and, obviously, the only other component of an ice cream sandwich): the ice cream. Don’t get angry with me, but recently I have been spending a great deal of time becoming cozy with ice cream’s much-maligned cousin, frozen yogurt. It happened when I had a hankering for ice cream, but didn’t possess the necessary ingredients for making any. What I did have, however, was a big tub of Greek yogurt, and I found that, incredibly, I sort of preferred the texture of creamy Greek frozen yogurt over traditional ice cream. The light tang of the yogurt also provides the perfect balance to its cookie neighbors, keeping the sweetness of the treat perfectly in check. With the deep flavor of ripe Bing cherries against a dark chocolate cookie, these frozen yogurt sandwiches are a prime example of that balance. Chocolate and cherries are a classic combination, and here, formed into tiny, summery treats, they’re also poised to become a thing of legend.
It is imperative that you exercise some patience here and freeze these sandwiches for 24 hours—or at least overnight—before you tear into them. The frozen yogurt not only needs a good amount of time to set up so it doesn’t ooze out everywhere when you try to eat a sandwich, but it also really benefits from some one-on-one time against the cookies, resulting in a perfectly textured, perfectly engineered summer treat.
Cherry Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
1 pound Bing cherries
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups Greek yogurt
2 drops almond extract
- Stem and pit the cherries (you can use a cherry pitter to do this but I simply cut each cherry in half with a small knife then squeeze out the pit—it sounds like a laborious task, but I actually timed myself pitting a pound of cherries and the whole process only took me 7 minutes, start to finish). Place cherries and sugar in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cherries are syrupy, tender, and cooked through. Remove cherries from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Puree the cooled cherries, along with their syrup, the Greek yogurt, and almond extract, in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- Chill for 2 hours, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When frozen yogurt has finished freezing, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until ready to use.
- While the cherries are cooling and then the frozen yogurt chilling, make the cookies.
Chocolate Icebox Cookies
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ounces melted and cooled dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, then set aside.
- In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs yolks, vanilla extract, melted chocolate, and espresso powder until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and slowly add in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Divide the dough in half, then roll each half into log roughly 9 to 10 inches long, trying to keep the log as cylindrical as possible. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
- When dough is firm, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, adjusting oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with one log of dough at a time, slice dough into cookies about ¼-inch thick. Lay the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about ½-inch apart. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies appear dry at the edges but the middles are still somewhat soft to the touch.
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To Assemble Sandwiches:
- When cookies have cooled and frozen yogurt has been frozen, place 1 tablespoon of frozen yogurt on top of a cookie, then place another cookie on top of frozen yogurt, flattening only slightly, so as not to squeeze the frozen yogurt out the sides. Repeat with remaining cookies and frozen yogurt. Freeze cookies in a single layer in the freezer (piling them one top of one another will cause them to flatten, squeezing all the frozen yogurt out from in between the cookies) for 24 hours, or at least overnight.
- Makes about 40 sandwiches.
|About the contributor:|
|Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.|