We know. Ice cream sandwiches are right there in your grocers freezer case. Why would you fuss and make your own?
Well, for the reasons that anyone bakes: The wafers are fresher. The fillings can be customized to your taste. Mostly, though, theres an undeniable satisfaction in baking from scratch.
The key to making your own sandwiches is getting the ice cream between the wafers without it becoming a melty mess. And the key to that is to give the ice cream at least 24 hours in the freezer so it is solid when you transfer it to the wafers. Also, premium ice creams freeze harder than other ice creams.
The moment of assembly is a good excuse for enlisting a helper: One cuts, one wraps. (Dont worry; you can do this solo.) Consider these a grab-and-go dessert. You can doll them up by dipping the edges in sprinkles, toasted coconut, candied ginger, chopped peanuts you get the idea.
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Makes 9 (3-inch) sandwiches.
Note: The ice cream needs to be prepared a day in advance. The espresso powder is optional, but deepens the chocolate flavor. Best tip for eating: Cut the corner from a clean envelope and voila! You have a handy sandwich holder.
1.5 quarts (1 carton) premium ice cream, your choice of flavor
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso powder, optional
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
For the ice cream: A day before you plan to bake, line a 9-by 9-inch pan with a 9-inch-wide strip of parchment paper, leaving ends long enough to grab onto. Using slightly softened ice cream (or cut off the carton and slice into slices), spread the ice cream in an even layer, making sure to get into the corners. Cover and freeze for 24 hours or until firm.
For the wafers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven.
On 2 sheets of parchment paper, using a pencil and ruler, draw a 9-inch square.
In a saucepan, warm the butter and oil over medium heat until just melted, then set aside to cool a bit. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder (if using) and salt.
Into the butter mixture, whisk the sugar, then the beaten egg, combining thoroughly. Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture, then the vanilla and mix until smooth.
Divide the batter between the paper squares; there will be slightly more than 3/4 cup of batter for each. With a rolling pin, roll the batter to fill the penciled outline, taking care to reach the corners. It will be thin. (You can also pat out the batter with your fingers.) Use the ruler to square off the edges. (Batter will not spread while baking.)
Slide 1 parchment onto a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, or until just firm. When first wafer is done, slide the wafer, paper and all, onto a counter, then repeat with the second wafer. If necessary, trim the edges along the pencil line with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Repeat this with the second wafer, then let both cool completely, still on the parchment paper.
To assemble the sandwiches: Carefully turn one wafer upside-down on a cutting surface and peel off the parchment. Lift the ice cream slab from the pan using the paper handles, invert onto the wafer, then peel off the paper. Carefully remove the remaining wafer from its paper, then place right-side up on the ice cream, pressing gently.
Using a serrated knife, immediately cut into the desired shapes and wrap each in plastic wrap. Return to the freezer for several hours or overnight before serving.
Variations: Embellish the edges of the ice cream sandwiches with mini-chocolate chips, sprinkles, candied ginger, chopped peanuts, toasted coconut or ground toasted nuts (toasting always makes the nuts more flavorful). Or even spread a layer of melted chocolate or caramel atop the inside of the top layer of the wafer.