What's left on your bucket list this summer? Have you spent enough time near water? Listened to live music outdoors? Have you eaten enough corn, berry cobblers, ice cream sandwiches?
Wait, what's that? You haven't had an ice cream sandwich this summer? Let's fix that right away!
Of course you can buy ice cream sandwiches at the grocery store, and perhaps you're lucky enough to live somewhere where the jingle-jangle of an ice cream truck can be heard. But making ice cream sandwiches at home is so easy, so much fun, and allows you to customize your ICS (ice cream sandwich, of course) any which way.
And I speak from experience when I say that pulling out a tray of ice cream sandwiches at the end of a cookout will cement your legacy as the host of the summer.
First, let's talk about the cookies
You can absolutely use store-bought cookies, but think about making your own. Pretty much any kind of sturdy cookie can be turned into an ice cream sandwich. Chocolate chip, sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, gingersnaps (a favorite in my house), to name but a few.
And you can of course make the cookies several days ahead of time, an easy do-ahead step. Make sure the cookies have some crispness, as the ice cream will soften them a bit.
Now let's talk ice cream
Ditto on the wide range of possible flavors. Yes, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate mint chip. But also: salted caramel, cake batter, peanut butter fudge swirl, chocolate banana split, rocky road, peach, cherry pistachio -- have you walked down the ice cream freezer aisle lately? It seems to get longer every year with exciting flavor combos.
Thinking about making your own ice cream? Those are some serious bragging rights. If you don't have an ice cream maker, consider making no-churn ice cream, which requires just a food processor and a freezer.
Or think about mixing some add-ins into store-bought vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Just soften some pints of ice cream, turn them into a bowl and add some chopped sweet (or maybe even salty!) things. You might consider chopped peanut butter cups, candy bars, fresh cherries, berries or other fruit, toffee, nuts, pretzels. Or swirl in some hot fudge or caramel sauce.
Then pack the mix into a container and let it firm up again in the freezer. Let the ice cream sit out for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to soften up slightly.
Now the fun part - mix and match flavors
The only rule here is to combine what you think goes well together! Last week, I made chocolate chunk cookies and filled them with brownie ice cream -- a chocolate explosion. This week, I'm planning to make peanut butter cookies and fill them with a raspberry chocolate chip ice cream (shades of PB&J!). Another combo that I want to sneak in under the wire: Mexican Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies with dulce de leche ice cream.
Of course, no one says you can't have ice cream sandwiches in the fall. I'm thinking Chewy Molasses Cookies with pumpkin spice ice cream! That would be a nice post-apple-picking treat, wouldn't it?
Here's how you make them
Just place a generous scoop of slightly softened ice cream between two cookies, flat side facing inwards. Gently press them together until the ice cream pushes out to reach the edges of the cookies. Use a knife to smooth the side of the ice cream filling.
And if you want to go one step further and make the ice cream sandwiches extra-festive, you can roll them in things like crushed candy, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles or any other crushable little sweet you fancy. If you want to go for the salty-sweet vibe, think about crushed nuts or pretzels or potato chips.
This is also a nice project for kids to help out with. Just put the crushed item on a plate and roll the ice cream sandwiches sideways until the ice cream is coated. Place the ice cream sandwiches on a plate back in the freezer until they firm up.
You can make these up to a few days ahead of time; let them freeze on a plate and then transfer them to an airtight container until ready to serve.
We've only got a few weeks left of what's been a very hot summer. Let's make them as cool and ice cream-y as possible!
Katie Workman writes regularly about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at https://themom100.com/ and can be reached at Katiethemom100.com.