Few foods remind us of our childhoods more than a delicious ice cream sandwich. Just thinking about those two soft chocolate cookies sandwiching cool vanilla bean is enough to take me back to backyard barbecues at my grandparents, field days on the school blacktop, even the thrill of getting to choose a little treat from the grocery store freezer as we stood in the check-out line.
The ice cream sandwich is seeped in our sweetest childhood memories – literally.
But while we may remember this frozen treat well, it’s safe to say that the ice cream sandwich is the most humble of your summer ice cream choices. There’s no crunchy waffle cone, no nuts, or fudge, or pieces of candy bar. Nothing is dipped in chocolate or caramel. All you have are those two soft cookies and the sweet ice cream squished between them.
While some might call this “boring,” we prefer to think of it as classic.
Why doesn’t your ice cream sandwich have any fancy bells or whistles? Because it doesn’t NEED any fancy bells or whistles. The ice cream sandwich is a traditional, all-American favorite, and we have loved this classic flavor combination for generations.
Now, you could go out and buy yourself a box of ice cream sandwiches to relive some delicious nostalgia (you’ll find they’re smaller than you remember), but we think the DIY route is the best. Sometimes, the only way to really capture that classic flavor and those beloved memories are with a homemade recipe.
While this may be true, some childhood favorites are difficult to recreate at home. And ice cream sandwiches are certainly one of those recipes.
We’re all for using chocolate wafers, or even using warm chocolate chip cookies, to stand-in as the “bread” of your ice cream sandwich, but we all know it just wouldn’t be the same. An ice cream sandwich isn’t an ice cream sandwich until you’ve gotten that tacky chocolate all over your fingertips and teeth.
Messy? Yes. A requirement of your ice cream sandwich experience? Absolutely.
So how can you recreate those sticky, chocolaty cookies we all remember so fondly? Here’s the secret: Use cake batter.
Cake batter works perfectly to imitate those sticky, shiny, sweet cookies that kept your ice cream sandwich together – and, yes, we guarantee that layer of chocolate will be stuck to your fingers once you’re through.
To get the most moisture out of your cake, whip up your batter and pour a thin layer into the bottom of sheet pan to bake it. This will not only give you that familiar sheen and texture, but it will also give you plenty of surface area to cut your sandwiches from.
Cut your squares of cake and sandwich them between vanilla ice cream for that familiar flavor we all know and love. The only thing you’ll be missing is the white paper wrapper.
Pro Tip: Use a generic store-bought ice cream to better imitate that airy texture from our childhood ice cream sandwiches.
You may not be able to go back in time to relive the good ol’ days, but you sure can send your taste buds back in time with these deliciously memorable ice cream sandwiches!
What do you think of this fun recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Big thanks to our partner, Food52, for this great throwback recipe!
Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, for more pronounced chocolate flavor)
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 gallon vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well-incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients by alternating with the buttermilk until you’ve added everything. Mix well.
- Line two jelly roll pans or rimmed half-sheet pans (make sure they have a decently high rim!) and VERY thoroughly butter or grease the foil. Pour a thin layer of cake batter on each pan (you should be able to use up half the batter on each, depending on the height of the rim of your pans. The batter shouldn’t be deeper than 1/2-inch).
- Bake the cake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it just springs back when pressed lightly on the surface. Let cool in the pans for at least 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the cake from the pans (inverting it onto a cutting board helps), and peel the foil off the back. Let it cool fully.
- While the cake cools, take out the ice cream to soften.
- When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and slice the sandwiches into rectangles, about 5 by 2 inches. If you want to save some, you can wrap the individual sandwiches in plastic wrap for up to 1 month.
Slice each sheet of cake in half. Spread a 1-inch thick layer of softened vanilla ice cream on each half-sheet of cake, then top with the second layer. You should have two large cake sandwiches. Wrap both tightly in plastic wrap and freeze fully (at least 2 hours).