I am most definitely a fan of a celebration. There are, of course, the classics - birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas - but I'm also a supporter of the next tier in the celebration hierachy - Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween. Where I become a raving devotee, however, is in the field of everyday celebrations; those moments where we are saluting the fact that we've made it to the weekend; observing that we finished that big project; delighting that we managed to make that difficult phone call; raving that we aced the huge exam. They are the small things, but those small things are the big things after all.
I've been experimenting with ice cream sandwiches recently and realising that although cookies are an excellent mood booster and ice cream certainly goes some way to lift the spirits, combining the two into an ice cream sandwich really is a wonderful way to celebrate. And these Chocolate Espresso Ice Cream Sandwiches are particularly worthy of a celebration.
So what do you need for an ice cream sandwich?
It's simple - for each sandwich, you need two cookies which should be thick and soft (more on this later) and some ice cream for the filling. That's it. Done. Finished.
Is there a perfect cookie for an ice cream sandwich?
There are definitely some ideal characteristics of the perfect cookie for an ice cream sandwich -.
- It needs to be chewy and thick - this means that they won't break during construction or when you bite into them and, most importantly, they are delicious to eat once frozen.
- It needs to be not too big - size does matter here. No matter how enthusiastic you are for an ice cream sandwich, you are effectively going to be eating two cookies + the ice cream, so you don't want them to be enormous.
- It needs to be not excessively sweet - perhaps this is a personal preference, but the whole thing can become a bit much if your cookies are too sugary. These Chocolate Espresso Cookies absolutely hit the mark.
And shop-bought cookies do work absolutely fine; just be sure that they are chewy, thick and not too big or sweet.
How about the ice cream - any words of wisdom?
I guess that choosing the flavour is the main thing. I opted for vanilla here (it became a bit rich when I tested chocolate ice cream in the trials, but a half-and-half of chocolate and vanilla was rather good.)
And what about construction?
So here are my top tips for easy construction -
- Pop your cookies in the freezer for an hour or so before you construct them into sandwiches. The softer/chewier they are, the more important this is. We are trying to make sure that they don't break when you sandwich the ice cream between them. The frozen cookies also make it less likely that the ice cream will melt excessively while you are constructing - and that can be messy ...
- Use an ice cream scoop to load a cookie with ice cream. Mr Google will provide you with many complicated options for how to do this part of making an ice cream sandwich (involving cardboard and tubes and sheets of paper) - I've tried a few of them but just building up the ice cream with thin-ish scoops until you have as much as you need is by far the easiest and most practical. This technique also makes combining flavours for a half-and-half option a breeze. Sandwich the second cookie on the top of the ice cream and press down gently.
And how do you store an ice cream sandwich?
- You can enjoy them straight away or wrap in plastic or foil and freeze them for later. Avoid leaving them unwrapped in the freezer because the ice cream is a magnet for other flavours. Ugh.
- Take them out of the freezer about 5 minutes before you want to enjoy them - of course, you don't want the ice cream to melt but the cookie needs to 'acclimatise' to life outside of the freezer.
What makes these Chocolate Espresso Ice Cream Sandwiches ideal for your next celebration?
I love that these sweet treats can sit beautifully in your freezer until called upon to perform their celebratory duties. They are a perfect size for a celebration treat but also ideal to serve as a relaxed dessert. They might be just what a teenage birthday gathering needs and they are (I speak from experience) very popular as a revision snack.
The other bonus is that the cookies themselves are a stand-alone success - ie they can more than hold their own without the ice cream. The recipe makes 18, so if you're lucky you might have a few leftover to enjoy as a mini celebration with your next coffee break. Now that's something I could toast to ...