Ice cream sandwiches are as much a part of summer as rain is to spring and bicycles to childhood.

These classic hot-weather treats remind me of drinking from the hose, piles of bikes discarded in front yards, sitting on the front porch, and licking the sticky, sweet chocolate cake from my fingertips, while creamy vanilla ice cream melts down my wrist.

Ice cream sandwiches are an easy-to-make quintessential summer treat. Be the hero of your neighborhood block party, and bring them out to enjoy while the kids chase fireflies and the adults revel in nostalgia.

WHAT IS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH?

There’s no denying this is a simple dessert: a block of vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two layers of soft, chocolatey cake.

For this recipe, I made a thin brownie base to use as the chocolate cake layers, and stayed with traditional vanilla ice cream, but feel free to mix it up. Strawberry ice cream, mint chip, caramel, or almost any flavor in between would be delicious. What doesn’t pair well with a brownie?

Once frozen, the brownie remains soft enough to bite through without the ice cream squishing out on the sides—this is an ice cream sandwich requirement in my book. If you want the sandwich even softer, let it sit out for about a minute. Of course, if you’re hitting triple digits outside, 30 seconds might be enough.

HOW TO MAKE THE BROWNIES

I wanted this to be pretty simple and straightforward. Use a jelly roll pan (a baking sheet with sides) lined with parchment paper. Spread a thin layer of brownie batter over the parchment, and bake! When the brownies cool, trim and cut them to size.

WHAT’S THE BEST ICE CREAM FOR ICE CREAM SANDWICHES?

A lot of recipes call for softening the ice cream, spreading it over an uncut cookie base, and topping it with another cookie—after which, you freeze and cut it into individual sandwiches.

If you’re using homemade ice cream for this sandwich recipe, I would go the aforementioned route. The edges aren’t as clean, but it’s an ice cream sandwich. No one really cares.

If you’re using store-bought ice cream, which is used for this version, I would keep a few things in mind.

  1. Look for rectangular packages. It’s easiest if you can find a true rectangle carton of ice cream (with 90-degree angles) that folds together. You just unwrap the box from around the ice cream, slice it into slabs, and set it on the individually cut brownies. Wrap it, freeze it, and you’re done!
  2. Can’t find rectangular packages? If your store-bought ice cream comes in a container you can’t easily unwrap, remove the lid, use a sharp knife to cut the container like a “T” on one of the longer sides, and unwrap the ice cream.
  3. High-end ice cream melts faster than its less expensive counterparts. It has fewer commercial stabilizers in it. If you go with a top-notch brand, you may want to slice your slabs, pop them in the freezer, and work with one slab at a time.

WHAT’S THE BEST PAN SIZE TO USE?

Okay! If there’s one part that may be a bit tricky, it’s probably pan size. Jelly roll pans come in various shapes and sizes. I used a 16×11-inch pan. It worked great.

Your pan might be slightly larger or smaller. An 15×11-inch pan would be perfect. If your pan is much smaller, I would divide the batter in half among two pans, or do it in batches. If your pan is much larger, I would make a fake side by folding aluminum foil and placing it in the pan so the inside of the pan measures 16×11 or 15×11. Don’t worry about a fraction of an inch here or there. We don’t have to be too precious about this.

I did try baking these in a 9×13-inch cake pan, but the brownie was just too thick. Stick with the jelly roll pan.

JAZZ UP YOUR ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

If the basic chocolate and vanilla combo isn’t spectacular enough for your freak flag side, or you’re looking for a way to include the kids, break out some sprinkles, sanding sugar, mini chocolate chips, and nuts. Press the sides of the ice cream into any of the above, wrap, and freeze.

TRY THESE ICE CREAM RECIPES

  • Coffee and Heath Bars
  • Classic French Vanilla
  • Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Strawberry Ice Cream
  • Peppermint Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream in a paper, rectangle container

Special equipment:

  • Half-sheet Jelly Roll Pan Sheet Pan, roughly 15×11-inch
  • Offset spatula
  • Parchment paper

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