Year of Baking: Salted chocolate chunk cookies stuffed with ice cream


Ice cream cookie sandwiches — how hard can it be?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the ice cream sandwiches made with wafers — you know, the squishy chocolate wafers whose ice cream filling, we now know thanks to internet sleuthing, may or may not melt?

About 10 years ago, ice cream sandwiches made with actual cookies, and sold from hip food trucks and bakeshops, became one of those special treat desserts you might crave and seek out, like a macaroon or a cupcake or a churro or frozen banana.

RELATED: Find all of our Year of Baking stories here

When done right, the sandwich cookies are soft enough not to break around the ice cream when you press the layers together, but hard enough not to fall apart as the ice cream melts.

Some of the fancier ice cream sandwiches are even rolled in sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, nuts or bright, crunchy cereal to coat the outer edge.

When you’re making these at home, it’s not easy to get that ice cream all the way to the edge without breaking the cookie or squishing the ice cream too far. Whether store-bought or homemade, the ice cream has to soften to a stage that allows you to scoop it and press it to fill out the space between the cookies.

At that point, put the ice cream sandwiches back in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes. Any longer and the cookies will be too cold to eat. Any shorter and the ice cream will make what is already a messy eating experience even messier.

Once you brace yourself for this little dance between the cookies and cream, you can start to think about which kind of ice cream and cookies you want out there on the dance floor.

We made these ice cream sandwiches with salted chocolate chunk cookies and regular vanilla, and then rolled them in various sundae toppings. A pretty straightforward match, but those salted chocolate chunk cookies were exceptional on their own. (Don’t worry, we’ll do another cookie recipe for the Year of Baking as the holidays approach.)

RELATED: Amid Blue Bell recall, a vanilla ice cream taste test to find the best alternative

Dolce Neve, the gelato shop at 1713 S. First Street, makes a gelato cookie sandwich that might inspire you to use a big, round cookie cutter to make perfect, thin circles of wafer-like cookies. Want to make a locally sourced vegan ice cream sandwich? Pick up some Sweet Ritual ice cream and cookies from Capital City or Celeste’s Best.

At Moojo, a dessert shop at 2322 Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas that specializes in ice cream sandwiches, they cracked the code for figuring out how to serve the sandwiches with slightly warm cookies. The more than a dozen ice cream choices are from Austin’s NadaMoo and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a fantastic creamery in Santa Barbara, Calif. The dozen or so types of cookies come from Lockhart Fine Foods.

Another company that knows a thing or two about warm cookies is Tiff’s Treats, which has a number of area locations, all serving ice cream sandwiches that are not available for delivery.

A few final tips as you get started:

  • If you start to scoop the ice cream and it’s too hard, wait just a minute or two, not 5 or 10. It’s better to scoop on the side of too frozen than too soft because you can’t unmelt the ice cream.
  • If your cookies are too crisp, don’t fret. The ice cream will soften them as the milk soaks into the cookie.
  • You’ll probably end up with a little ice cream on you. If that doesn’t sound like how you want to spend your summer day, serve the cookie and ice cream in a bowl together. I don’t think anyone will complain.
  • Brown sugar is your friend in ice cream sandwich cookies; it makes a softer crumb than white sugar. Salt is also your friend. Ice cream is inherently extra sweet because of all that milkfat, so it’s OK if the cookies aren’t so sweet or have a sprinkle of salt on top.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sandwich

To say that Ashley Rodriguez’s chocolate chunk cookies are the best I’ve ever made is a terrible understatement. Her cookies have become so famous that she started selling the mix and, before long, it became one of our best sellers at Many Kitchens. All the ingredients are perfectly measured out, including a mini bag of salt crystals that put the finishing touch on these gooey, chewy beauties. Turning these cookies into an ice cream sandwich is just an excuse to eat two at a time!

— Valentina Rice

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife

Flake salt, such as Maldon, for finishing

Vanilla ice cream

In a medium-size bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Again, scrape the sides with a spatula.

In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and kosher salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Then add the chocolate and mix until everything is combined. Finish the dough by hand and make sure everything is evenly distributed.

At this point, you should refrigerate the dough for 24 hours. Resting the dough will intensify the flavors, and the texture of the baked cookie will improve.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and scoop the dough 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Top the cookies with a pinch of flake salt just before baking. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through if they appear to be baking unevenly. The cookies should be lightly golden brown on the outside but still look gooey on the inside. Let cool on the pans for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

To assemble your sandwiches, take a large scoop of ice cream and gently squish between two cookies. If you’re making a platterful, you can freeze them for about 10 minutes before laying out for eager fingers. Makes 9 to 12 sandwiches.

— From Ashley Rodriguez and published in “Recipes From Many Kitchens: Celebrated Local Food Artisans Share Their Signature Dishes” by Valentina Rice (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Coolhaus’ food trucks might have closed in Austin, but the ice cream sandwich company still has several outlets open in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and fans can also buy their sandwiches at retailers, including Sprouts. This snickerdoodle cookie with strawberry gelato, first published in their debut cookbook, is known as the “Frank Behry Ice Cream Sandwich,” but of course you could mix and match cookie and gelato recipes to your heart’s desire. Peanut butter ice cream (perhaps made with mashed bananas) is a natural fit with the snickerdoodles, and the strawberry gelato would go great with oatmeal cookies.

— Addie Broyles

16 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. baking soda

Place butter in a saucepan and set over low heat until just half is melted. Cool for 5 minutes. Pour cooled butter into a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and whisk to combine. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then whisk in vanilla. Whisk until mixture has consistency of wet sand. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, to the egg and sugar mixture, mixing with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to combine. Wrap bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in the oven’s lower and upper thirds. Line two half-sheet baking pans with parchment paper. Form dough into balls about the size of whole walnuts and roll them in the reserved cinnamon sugar mixture. Set cookie balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges are light brown and centers are still wet; don’t overbake. Immediately transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Let cool for 1 hour before serving, or use to make ice cream sandwiches. Makes 20 to 24 cookies.

— From “Coolhaus Ice Cream Book: Custom-Built Sandwiches with Crazy-Good Combos of Cookies, Ice Creams, Gelatos, and Sorbets” by Natasha Case, Freya Estreller and Kathleen Squires (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)

Strawberries and Cream Gelato

For the gelato base:

4 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

8 large egg yoks

For the gelato:

12 to 14 strawberries

1 Tbsp. white granulated sugar

Juice of half a lemon

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine milk and half of the sugar. Set over high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk yolks and remaining sugar until smooth, heavy and pale yellow, about 30 seconds.

When the cream mixture just comes to a boil, whisk, remove from heat, and in a slow stream, pour half of cream mixture over yolk-sugar mixture, whisking constantly until blended. Return pan to stovetop over low heat. Whisking constantly, stream yolk-cream mixture back into pan. With a wooden spoon, continue stirring until mixture registers 165 to 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Do not heat above 180 degrees or the eggs in the base will scramble.

Mixture should be slightly thickened and coat back of spoon, with steam rising, but not boiling. (If you blow on the back of the spoon and the mixture ripples, you’ve got the right consistency.) Pour into a clean, airtight container and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours before using. Use base within 3 to 5 days.

To make the strawberry gelato: In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries, tablespoon sugar and lemon juice. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the cold gelato base. Mix well. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into an airtight storage container. Freeze for a minimum of 2 hours before serving. Makes about 2 quarts.

— From “Coolhaus Ice Cream Book: Custom-Built Sandwiches with Crazy-Good Combos of Cookies, Ice Creams, Gelatos, and Sorbets” by Natasha Case, Freya Estreller and Kathleen Squires (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25)



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