For the frozen dessert connoisseur who wants it all—creamy ice cream and chewy cookies—it's hard to beat an ice cream sandwich. A well-constructed sandwich is marvel to behold. And hold. And you know, eat.
Constructing this fleeting pleasure isn't as easy as just stacking two random cookies on a blob of ice cream. Well, that works too, but we like to creatively overthink things around here.
"The cookie and the ice cream should work in harmony, both in terms of flavor and in the physical bonding of cream to cookie," says food editor Andy Baraghani.
To that end, we developed our own perfect ICS (as we like to call them): Homemade black sesame ice cream with chewy double chocolate cookies.
Why it works: The cookies are made with more brown sugar than white, which helps nail the right texture—chewy throughout, with crumbly edges and a slightly cakey middle. Plus, they measure about three and a half inches, which keeps the sandwich manageable instead of monstrous. We've been playing around with homemade ice cream all summer and had something dark and sweet in mind. The nutty black sesame is the perfect foil to the rich, bittersweet chocolate-chip-studded cookies.
For advice on assembly we turned to ICS pro Natasha Case of Coolhaus, the artisanal, architecturally-inspired ice cream sandwich company in L.A.
Cookie: "The cookies should be soft and pliable, so you can bite through to the ice cream without it oozing out the sides," Case advises.
Ice Cream: "You'd be surprised by the ice cream/cookie combinations that work together," says Case. "Certain cookies can enhance the flavor of the ice cream in unexpected ways." She cites sweet-and-salty combos, or sweet-and-savory, as perpetual winners. But don't go overboard: "If you have a strongly flavored ice cream, keep the cookie simple."
Construction: While Coolhaus scoops and presses sandwiches to order, we developed a nifty trick for home cooks that all but guarantees a gorgeous sandwich every time. The secret is freezing the ice cream in a round cake pan, using a ring mold (or upside-down glass) to cleanly cut a puck that's just a bit smaller than the cookie, then pressing the top cookie to fill out the edges. A quick roll in whole black sesame seeds provides a beautiful textural and visual contrast, to boot.
Handling: If you plan to cut your ICS in half, do it while it's open-faced. "If you try to cut it after assembling both cookies, all the ice cream comes out the side," says Case. If, for some reason, your sandwich does fall apart, fear not. "You can make a delicious milkshake out of broken cookies and ice cream."