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Sweet Breads

The real way to make ice cream sandwiches doesn't involve cookies
Photo: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table
Ice Cream Sandwiches

Everyone’s buzzing about real food: locally sourced vegetables, ingredients you can pronounce, high-fructose hiatuses. And ice cream sandwiches are starting to feel left out.

I don’t mean the paper-wrapped kind from the supermarket or even ones that are made with Jacques Torres’s giant chocolate chip cookies. I move to leave the cookies out of the equation and make this ice cream-filled treat the way you would any other kind of sandwich: with bread.

When I suggest this to friends and strangers alike, 40 percent of people give me a look that expressly says no thanks. Most of my own coworkers were in that group, but after forcing them to try it (which shouldn’t be too hard; it’s still ice cream), they are converts. The following list isn’t my argument for why this is the superior method—it’s theirs.

• The bread makes it taste slightly salty. It’s true. Salted anything is all the rage these days, and you get that here without needing to add some high-maintenance pink Himalayan sea salt hand-crushed by tiny mountain gnomes.

• It doesn’t stick to your fingers. Major perk. I’d rather hit my chocolate-covered-finger quota by going in on a pan of brownies.

• Even though it’s ice cream, it’s not too sweet. Bread plays up savory side of ice cream. If it can work as a vehicle for both a turkey club and three scoops of rocky road, that’s saying something.

It’s arguably simpler to make ice cream sandwiches this way as well, since there’s no pressure to make your own cookies. Toast the bread, then let it sit and cool for a bit while you quality-test the ice cream. Telling you how to proceed from there would essentially be telling you how to scoop ice cream, and I don’t want to offend anyone. But that’s really all it takes. The ice cream will start to lilt into the warm nooks of the bread (it really can’t help itself). This gets amplified as you slap on the top slice and gently press the two together to complete the sandwich.

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As for flavor pairings, buy a carton and go wild. Here are some of my preferred combos. Pumpernickel belongs with cookies and cream: My biggest issue with pumpernickel is that it’s not chocolate, no matter how much it looks like a weirdly shaped Hershey’s bar. But add a scoop of cookie-rich ice cream on top, and dreams will come true. Cinnamon raisin goes well with simple vanilla ice cream, and potato bread with butter pecan. My go-to is mint-chocolate chip, either with sourdough (if it’s green) or seedy multigrain (if it’s coloring free).

Last year, we talked about alt-ice cream sandwiches, ones that used buttery brioche or marshmallow treats to form a nest for everyone’s summer dessert kryptonite. But will the real ice cream sandwiches please stand up?

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