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Happy Great British Bake Off Day everyone! If you still don’t have your baked goods ready for tonights premier, I’ve got you covered. These super easy ice cream sandwiches made with your favourite tub from the freezer cabinet sandwiched between two, perfectly proportioned homemade chocolate cookies (with a hint of smoked sea salt) can either be assembled ready to eat, a couple of hours ahead of time, or the cookie dough can be stashed in the freezer for freshly baked cookies in under 15 minutes. Awesome, right?
Ice cream sandwiches seem to be everywhere at the moment by way of all of those Instagram food porn accounts I will totally admit to following, but actually my love affair with the humble ice cream cookie sandwich goes way back to what had to be my first week living in my student apartment in Westwood, Los Angeles. To help me get to know my new neighbourhood (aside from the obvious essentials: the Target and Trader Joe’s across the street, In-N-Out, Whole Foods and Starbucks) one of my roommates Jenna took me to Enzo’s for an all-American giant pizza slice, and then onto a UCLA institution: Diddy Reise.
Diddy Reise is an ice cream sandwich shop. Yes they sell regular ice cream cones, and Hawaiian shaved ice, but everyone went there for the ice cream sandwiches. For me, there was only one flavour that would ever do and I don’t think I ever ordered anything else: mint chocolate chip ice cream (my favourite flavour, before I’d ever tried my first scoop of matcha), sandwiched between two M&M cookies.
We all loved Diddy Reise, but it was just regular ice cream with regular cookies. The appeal I think was somewhere between the fact it was where you went as a UCLA student for a frozen dessert late at night (unless you were a healthy eating freak and went to Yogurtland), and that I could head two blocks across the neighbourhood in flip flops and yoga pants if I fancied something sweet in the middle of an episode of Pretty Little Liars. In fact, the very best ice cream sandwich I’ve ever had came out of another L.A. institution: the Cool Haus ice cream sandwich truck. They’re now all over L.A. and with its own bricks and mortar location, but parked up at one of its original haunts: First Friday’s on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in my beloved Venice.
The ice cream sandwich I had at Cool Haus was much more sophisticated, and it actually looked just like one of the two sandwich flavours I’ve played around with here (mint chocolate chip, and lemon curd), sandwiched between two, classic, all-American chocolate chip cookies.
So, when the guys at Simply Ice Cream (wonderfully creamy, small batch ice cream, made here in Kent, but with the added convenience that I can grab a tub in Waitrose) offered to send me some flavours to play around with, I knew that a DIY of those ice cream sandwiches I enjoy on the West Coast would make the perfect, easy snack to throw together and enjoy tonight as a brand new batch of bakers enter the tent.
Simply Ice Cream is made with locally sourced ingredients, which means as well as having great traditional flavours (their mint choc chip is awesome, and I’ve eaten a lot of it in my time, and their amazing honeycomb is the wonderful scoop that is served up with desert at The Duke William in Ickham, among other local restaurants), they do some special, very Kentish flavours worth looking out for. I don’t really like coffee flavoured things (or coffee for that matter), but their Coffee and Kentish Cobnut Fudge is one of my Mum’s favour ice cream flavours ever, and she gets super excited whenever she can get her hands on a tub.
The easiest way to make ice cream sandwiches is to get your hands on mini, cinema tubs of ice cream, and slice them right down the middle with a sharp bread knife. Peel off the carton, and sandwich the perfect round of perfect thickness between two cookies, made small (and perfectly sized for dessert) by rolling the cookie dough into balls roughly the size of meatballs before baking. Alternatively, you can do this with a big tub of ice cream (these will just make much bigger ice cream sandwiches, better for sharing), or use scoops.
You can make these sandwiches as soon as the cookies are cool, or make them up to 6 hours ahead. You won’t want to leave them in the freezer (resting on a baking parchment lined tray) for more than a couple of hours, as the freezer will start to make the cookies go soggy. But they’ll be perfectly fine for a while, so don’t worry!
To make the cookie dough ahead and to bake the cookies from frozen is really easy. I know it is a really popular thing to do in America, and I first had them baked this way when I was visiting Joy in her old home in Venice before she upped sticks and moved to New Orleans. She wanted to send me away with a batch of freshly baked cookies, so she pulled a batch of homemade cookie dough balls out of the freezer and baked then and there. Simply freeze the cookie dough balls, shaped and ready to go on a tray and transfer them to a plastic bag for storage when frozen solid. Heat up the oven and bake them from frozen, just adding another couple of minutes onto the baking time to allow them to defrost. Just remember to let them cool before adding the ice cream!
It was actually also from her I got the idea of sprinkling a little smoked sea salt on top of each cookie before baking. It is totally optional, but I think it helps balance out the sweetness of the ice cream. I also used a slightly adapted version of her cookie recipe from both her cookbooks as the blueprint for these cookies; my own cookie recipe I don’t think would have been chewy enough here; you need a bit of give so that the ice cream does not just get squished out of the sides with you go to take a bite!
The cookie recipe below makes enough for around twenty two small, ice cream sandwich sized cookies, enough for ten ice cream sandwiches (allowing for you to accidentally burn/ and or eat two cookies!), or enough cookies to make however many sandwiches you want with dough leftover to freeze. Just remember if you’re using the cinema tub method you’ll get two ice cream sandwiches out of each tub, and you will need two cookies per sandwich. I know lots of people like to pimp their ice cream sandwiches (both for flavour and aesthetics) by rolling them in things like chocolate sprinkles, freeze dried raspberries or chopped pistachios before eating. Knock yourself out; I just like the paired down, L.A. inspired classic.
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