Thursday, 22 May 2014

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Life is a funny thing.  Just when you think you think things can't get any harder, they sometimes do.  Last summer my husband lost his job and had to reinvent himself in short order.  As we were dealing with that my dad went on his annual fishing trip with his best friend.  Just after they cast off, the boat tipped and they fell in the cold water.  My dad had a sudden heart attack and died.  He was 84 years old, living on his own, doing all the things he loved, there was no sign or warning that he was going to go anytime soon.  The beautiful thing in his death is that he was doing what he loved to do, right to the very last second.  While that doesn't make me miss him any less, is it inspiring.  Wouldn't we all love to depart from this physical world like that?  Needless to say, keeping my blog going has been low on the priority list as I sift though this foreign land of grief.  It has been so touching though how many of you have asked if I am going to keep this food loving blog going.  I love hearing your stories about how you try the recipes and love them. So now that summer is here, or just about, it seems like it is time to start returning to the things I love, including writing.  My dad's passing over reminds me that we need to savor every moment of every day.  Cliche I know, but it is true.  The beauty and essence of life is made up of small, wonderful, magical moments.  Seeing the thousand shades of green in the spring leaves, the sun sparkling on the river, the sound of a child laughing until their stomach hurts, these are the things that make life so precious and worth celebrating.  I am learning to start looking up from all the troubles and really allow these beautiful moments to absorb into my being.  Food is a part of that beauty and ice cream sandwiches are no exception.

When I was a kid, this was my go-to treat.  I used to walk to the corner store with my friends, change jingling in my pocket to get one of these beauties.  We would sit on the curb eating them in the hot sun, licking the melting ice cream as it dripped down our arms.  That was summer.  Then I discovered how to make my own and I never looked back.  These take a small amount of effort, but it is worth it, believe me.  I recommend that you let them sit out for a minute after you pull them out of the freezer so that everything gets a bit soft.  They are best eaten outside with a good friend, on a back step, savoring every beautiful moment. 

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Classic Ice Cream Sandwiches

First, the Cookies

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350℉ and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Sift the flour and cocoa together in a small bowl and set aside.  Do not skip this step otherwise you will have lumps of cocoa in your dough.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time along with the vanilla and mix until combined.  Scrape the sides down if necessary and beat again.  Add the flour mixture in thirds until everything is combined into a lovely chocolatey dough.

Transfer your cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces.  If the dough is too soft to handle, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden up.  Roll each batch into a rectangle.  This is when you pull out your cookie cutter of choice.  I used a biscuit cutter and the bottom of my cheese grater.  The cheese grater will give you the traditional rectangle shape and the biscuit cutter shape is what you see in the picture.  Cut out as may equal pieces as you can get.  Keep re-rolling and cutting until you have used up all of your dough. Now transfer to your cookie sheet with about an inch between them. With the end of a chop stick you can put little holes in your cookies to make them look just like store-bought.  Bake one sheet at a time for 16-18 minutes or until they are firm when touched in the center. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now the good stuff...Ice Cream!

To make this step as simple as possible, I bought a box of ice cream.  You know, the kind that comes in a rectangle cardboard box that you can just open up on all sides? I used vanilla, but you could use any flavor you want.  I think chocolate chip mint would be yummy too.  Get out your cookie cutter that you used for the cookies.  Cut one slice of ice cream at a time and then with your cookie cutter, cut out your ice cream and place on the first cookie, it will match perfectly.  Then add the second cookie on top and Viola! You have an ice cream sandwich.  Continue doing this until all of your cookies are used up.  Wrap them in cling film or parchment and store them in the freezer.  I do highly recommend that you eat one right away though : )

Note: The cookie in this recipe is a bit crunchy, unlike the corner store variety that sticks to the roof of your mouth.  But I have to say that it is a wonderful combination with the ice cream.  My kids actually like them better.


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