Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

I spent awhile thinking about what to make for Memorial Day weekend. I was going to Virginia Beach with a bunch of my family, including my nephews who are 1 and 3 years old. I wanted something fun, casual, but delicious, and since I was going to be at my mom's with full access to an ice cream maker, these Ice Cream Sandwiches seemed perfect. 

When my sister was in college, she and her roommate came up with the delicious idea of buying "break and bake" cookies or pre-made cookie dough, baking it, and using store bought ice cream to create homemade ice cream sandwiches. There's nothing hugely innovative about this, but with all the different kinds of pre-made cookie dough and Ben and Jerry's ice cream, the great part about this idea is that they're fast and easy to make and the possible flavor combinations are endless. (My favorite: sugar cookies with oatmeal cookie dough ice cream. So perfect for Fall!) 

Since this recipe calls for the use of 18 individual ring molds which I don't have and have no interest in investing in, I knew I was going to make some modifications, one of which was to use my sister's method for making the sandwiches: make the ice cream but keep it soft enough to squish between two cookies, then freeze the whole thing together.

To start, I made the mint chocolate chip ice cream. Here are the ingredients:

spearmint, whole milk, egg yolks, caster sugar, heavy cream, dark chocolate, green food coloring

First, I infused the milk and cream with the spearmint. Spearmint is sweeter and a little milder than peppermint, which is why it's used in this recipe. I was lucky enough to get some from my mom's garden.

Now, here is the first modification I made. In reality, I could have made this recipe at my house, even without an ice cream maker, since there's no need for one as the recipe is originally written. What Clark suggests you do is make the custard using just the milk, whipping the heavy cream separately, and then folding the two together before filling each ring mold with some of the parfait mixture and freezing it. Once frozen, each individual ring of ice cream gets sandwiched between two cookies. The upside: no ice cream maker. The downside: 18 ring molds. So instead of doing it that way, I just made this like a typical ice cream.

I brought the milk, cream, and mint to a boil, took it off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes. I brought it back to a boil and then passed it through a fine sieve. 

I mixed the egg yolks with sugar and with the help of a sous chef, slowly stirred in the hot milk. 

I returned this mixture to a clean pot and put it over low heat, cooking and stirring constantly until it thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, which took FOREVER.

You know the mixture is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon and you can run your finger down the middle without the sides running back together

Once the custard had thickened, I passed it through another sieve into a clean bowl and put it in the fridge to chill overnight.

The remnants

The finished custard

The next day, I needed to make the cookies and finish the ice cream. I got sort of a late start, so there wasn't much room for error.

And here, of course, is where the shit hit the fan. 

The ice cream went off without a hitch; I just put it in the ice cream maker with the chopped dark chocolate, about 3 drops of green food coloring, and let it do it's thing.

The cookies, however, were another story. Let's start at the beginning. Ingredients:
butter, powdered sugar, an egg, flour, cocoa powder, almond flour

I let the butter sit at room temperature so it was soft and then creamed it with the powdered sugar. I added the egg and that's when disaster struck. The egg was still cold from the fridge, so when it hit the butter, it cooled it, causing the butter to re-solidify. This does not make for a particularly creamy texture. I was so annoyed with myself, and annoyed that this had happened. I know most chefs hem and haw about having all your ingredients at room temperature, and they're probably right (clearly), but this has never ever been a problem for me. I didn't think there was any saving it, so I took out more butter AND AN EGG and let it all sit at room temperature for a few hours. Of course, it was even later in the day by the time the butter was soft, and I was starting to worry I wouldn't have enough time to bake the cookies, let them cool, make the sandwiches, and let them set up in the freezer. 

Finally, the butter was soft and the egg felt about room temperature, so I repeated the process of creaming the butter and sugar, and then added the ROOM TEMPERATURE egg. And you know what?

IT HAPPENED AGAIN! What the hell Claire?! Your recipe sucks!

There wasn't anything I could do about it at that point, so I just beat the hell out of it with my mixer and kept going.

While I was beating THAT into submission, I sifted both flours and the cocoa powder together into a separate bowl.

I added the flour mixture to the butter, and mixed just to incorporate, finishing it by hand. 

I turned the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and covered it with another. Using a rolling pin, I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch. The dough was very soft which made it easy to roll, but the confines of the parchment paper made it a little difficult to get a uniform thickness. 

I put the dough, still in the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet and put it in the fridge to chill for 2 hours. After that time, I lifted the top sheet of parchment off and using a pretty flower cookie cutter, began cutting out the dough to make the cookies.
Sadly, this is the last picture you'll see of this dough.

I made the imprints with the cookie cutter just fine, but when I tried to lift each one up, they were soft and stuck. The dough had not hardened nearly enough so it was impossible to pick up without destroying the cut out cookies. I knew I had to move fast, but I was getting more and more frustrated, which wasn't helping. I got about 3 cookies cut out and onto a baking sheet, cussing up a storm (under my breath of course as my mother was in the next room and doesn't appreciate foul language in her kitchen) and put them in the oven. With the rest of the dough, I re-rolled it and put it in the freezer. I did this whole process I think 3 times and only got about 14 cookies. There were 11 of us coming for dinner, so that meant only 7 sandwiches. Finally, I gave up and just put the last sheet of dough in the oven, intending to cut out the cookies once it was fully cooked. By this time, the first batch of cookies I had baked were out of the oven and I was curious to see how they tasted. I tried a little crumb and crinkled my nose. 

These weren't even good! They were bitter and flavorless, not at all chocolate-y. I had my mom, sister, and friend Kamyle try a piece each. My mom probably said it best when she described them as chocolate shortbread. But shortbread should be sweet and buttery, and this was bitter and gritty. 

And yes, I had done all this work and believe me, it was WORK, but I just couldn't face serving something that was mediocre. The ice cream was great (my mom and I tasted it before putting it in the freezer) and I just couldn't bare the thought sandwiching it between these crappy cookies. Why didn't I just serve the ice cream, you might ask? Because there wasn't enough. Since it's not really meant to be eaten in a bowl, the recipe only made about a pint, which is not enough for dessert for 11 people, even if one of them is 3 years old.

A few weeks before Memorial Day, my mom and I had been discussing the menu for the weekend and she had dropped a pseudo hint about making these chocolate cookies that she loves. I kept that in the back of my mind and sort of wanted to make them, but didn't want to go over the top baking up a storm (I had also baked homemade scones, recipe to come!). But when I was faced with this crisis, they were all I could think about. They're super chocolate-y, thick, soft and chewy, and sturdy enough to be made into an ice cream sandwich. They're also super easy and quick to make. 

So into the trash went the original chocolate cookies and out of the oven came these:

Although these cookies were easy to throw together, they still took up some time, so by the time they were out of the oven, it was almost dinner time and I really needed to get the sandwiches into the freezer. I had taken the ice cream out to soften slightly so it could be squished without breaking the cookie. I also put the cookies in the freezer for a few minutes to cool them down so they didn't melt the ice cream. Finally, I sandwiched the ice cream between the chocolate cookies, making more than enough sandwiches for all of us, and threw them in the freezer until after dinner. 

I didn't get a picture of all the sandwiches together because half of them were gone before I could get my camera, but here they are in all their chocolate, mint glory:

As I said before, the ice cream was absolutely delicious. There was just enough mint, which was balanced by the sweet custard, and the dark chocolate added just the right flavor and crunch. I don't even typically like the combination of mint and chocolate (or anything and chocolate), but the subtle mint flavor in these was just enough. The cookies were nice and chocolate-y and stood up well to the ice cream without overpowering the light mint flavor. 

And just because these chocolate cookies are so good (and because they're not from my blog cookbook, which I am HATING right now) I'm gifting you with the recipe. Go make them. Now. Really, right now.

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

4 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) soft butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (or a cup of each)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
2. Measure the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and two sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
4. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg, and the mix in the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
5. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto two parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheets.
6. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the tops just start to crack. They should still look very soft.
7. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express 

Next Indulgence: Possibly a change of pace...


  1. The cookie switch was a good one. The ice cream sandwiches were amazing!!! Even people who never eat dessert (ahem or very much else for that matter) loved these! ;)

    They are infinitely better than the break and bake kind we did in college (though I appreciate the shout out!)

    Mmmmm, I can taste the mint chocolate now...and just now I had a thought...I am almost positive there is one left in the freezer back at the beach!!! Odds it will still be there the next time we go home?

    I guess you will just have to make them again!

  2. I realize I'm spoiled from getting to eat your creations all the time, but I'm still jealous. I love mint ice cream.


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