3 Secrets of Perfect Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I love cookies and ice cream. The combination of sweet, sugary cookie and the rich, mellow ice cream is one that is hard to beat. Maybe I am weird, but I think the ideal sandwich is similar to a FatBoy—soft and tender cookie and firm ice cream. I could eat these ice cream sandwiches by the dozen. Actually, I need to make sure I don't eat one because I have that hard of a time stopping.

But all too often when I am offered a homemade ice cream sandwich I end up being disappointed because the cookies are so hard I can't bite through them without inevitably squeezing all the ice cream out from between the cookies and onto my shirt or—even worse—the floor. My own experiments were not any more successful though, and I had to settle for eating my cookies and ice cream in the form of crushed cookies mixed into ice cream. Not that this is bad, but crushed cookies do not a sandwich make.

There has to be a solution, I would say to myself. After all, ice cream and cookie combinations are found everywhere in the frozen dessert section of the grocery store, in the form of cookies & creme ice cream and, of course, ice cream sandwiches. But it wasn't until I got a project at work to make cookies intended for ice cream sandwiches that I learned the secret to perfect ice cream sandwiches.

And before you run away screaming and waving your arms shouting about chemicals and artificiality, let me tell you the secret isn't as complex or scary as you think, and it's something you can do in your own kitchen and freezer. And now let me share with you the secrets I learned as a professional baker about how to make perfect ice cream sandwiches.

Secret #1: The Cookie
The first secret to a perfect ice cream sandwich is to use the right cookie. Before I share with you one of my favorite ice cream sandwich cookie recipes—root beer float cookies—let me first tell you something very important about ice cream sandwich cookies about which I have read a ton of misinformation.
Don't use underbaked cookies!
The trick to getting a soft cookie is not to bake a soft cookie, but to bake a hard and crunchy, yet extremely tender, cookie.
WAIT!! Don't run away so fast. I promise my underpants aren't sitting on my head as I write this. I'm not crazy. This is a trick I learned as a professional baker who made cookies intended for ice cream sandwiches. You want a low-moisture cookie for this, not a high-moisture one.Also, you want a cookie that is going to be tender even when frozen, and the key to that is an extremely high fat content—I like to use the same amount of fat as sugar, by weight of course.
Still don't believe me? Let's look at the quintessential cookie to be paired with ice cream—the chocolate sandwich cookie. These cookies are really, really hard and dry, but they are what every cookies & creme ice cream contains. And can it be mere coincidence that they are called sandwich cookies? I think not.
And now, without further ado, here is my recipe for root beer float cookies.

Secret #2: The Assembly
The second step on your way to a perfect frozen dessert is in how you put it together. Believe it or not, there is a lot of discrepancy on this point, and it doesn't make sense to me. I put it down to misunderstandings about what an ice cream sandwich should be. Maybe there are people out there who think that an ice cream sandwich should be all about melty ice cream and hard-as-a-rock cookie, I don't know.
Okay, the secret to assembling a perfect sandwich is to use frozen cookies and barely-soft ice cream. Here is how you do it.
Take 1 frozen cookie and put it on a square of plastic wrap at least 3 times as wide as the cookie. Place a scoop of ice cream on the cookie and top with a second frozen cookie. Then gently apply even pressure to spread the ice cream into an even disc between the cookies. Finally, completely wrap the cookie up in the plastic wrap and stick in the freezer.
Please, please, resist the temptation to eat your sandwich right away. Which brings me to...

Secret #3: The Wait
This is the true, ultimate secret to the perfect ice cream sandwich. This is what sets every professional ice cream sandwich apart from homemade mock-ups.
The secret to a perfect ice cream sandwich is to let it sit in the freezer for at least 24 hours. Forty-eight would be better, and a week would create an ice cream sandwich that would be simply to die for.
I know I seem crazy, and that some of you shut down the computer when I said that, but it's true. That is the only way to get a cookie that is completely baked, soft enough to bit through when frozen, yet strong enough to not fall apart when you pick it up or when the ice cream starts to melt.
This is why earlier I said you need a dry cookie—a dry cookie will pick up more moisture than a moist cookie without falling apart. This is why it is best to make french toast or bread pudding from dry, stale bread rather than moist, fresh bread. If you use a dry cookie and give it time to absorb moisture, it will soften up without getting mushy. Where is it getting the moisture from? The ice cream of course! So use good ice cream when making your sandwiches.

I hope I have given you the tools you need to make your ice cream sandwiches the best they can be. Now go forth, and make sandwiches.

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