We all scream for summer ice cream sandwiches

by April Lisante
Posted 5/28/21

We’re not only talking about homemade ice cream, we’re talking more specifically about gourmet twists on the old favorite, from ice cream cakes to blinged-out ice cream sandwiches.

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We all scream for summer ice cream sandwiches

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The unofficial start of summer arrives this weekend and with it, a whole new world of fun foods.

Grilling always gets its due on Memorial Day Weekend, as does corn on the cob and watermelon, but let’s not forget about the food that’s been blowing up the Internet among self-made kitchen warriors: ice cream.

But we’re not only talking about homemade ice cream, we’re talking more specifically about gourmet twists on the old favorite, from ice cream cakes to blinged-out ice cream sandwiches.

Recently, I read about the Flow State Coffee Bar in Kensington, which made gourmet sandwiches using pizzelle cookies, a ganache and vanilla bean gelato. It proves the sky really is the limit when you are coming up with combinations that change a frozen treat into the ultimate dessert.

TikTok and social media sites have sent people into a tailspin with an ice cream cake made of stacked ice cream sandwiches topped with whipped cream. The sites currently have thousands of followers who, as the weather warms, look for unique ways to sandwich ice cream themselves, using Belgian waffles, brownies, Rice Krispies treats and even a duo of doughnuts. Part of the allure, admittedly, is that aesthetically, they are so Insta-photo worthy.

Making them at home is a great project to do with kids for the Memorial Day holiday. They are easy to do in your own kitchen, and they also mirror a lot of what we’re seeing on the take-out menus at local ice cream parlors and shops right now.

Richman’s Ice Cream & Burger Co. in Glenside has long been known for its pinwheel ice cream sandwiches made with soft serve ice cream and coated on the rims with chocolate chips, M & M’s or Reese’s Pieces. These remind me of the Carvel Flying Saucers I used to love as a kid.

“We use soft serve ice cream and pinwheel chocolate wafers,” said manager Brianna Ferrara. “We’ve always had them.”

Zsa’s Ice Cream opened its brick-and-mortar location at 6616 Germantown Ave. in Mount Airy in December of 2018, after spending nearly seven years pumping out hundreds of sandwiches at a time from a roving food truck. They now have a huge local following this spring for their gourmet strawberries and cream, brown sugar sandwiches, as well as a vegan chocolate sorbet sandwiched between vegan chocolate chip cookies. Anyone who needs a fix can currently order online or walk up to pick up the sandwiches, as well as homemade pints, Fridays through Sundays until 9 p.m., though flavors may vary on Memorial Day Weekend.

“When I started the business in 2011, I was disenchanted with a lot of store-bought ice cream sandwiches and I looked around and saw there weren’t a lot of companies that made their own cookies and their own ice cream,” said owner Danielle Jowdy. “I had to tweak the recipe so when the cookies are frozen, the trick is that they have to still be of a good taste and a good texture.

“We realized they were successful because they are something you could carry in one hand and hold your phone in the other and photograph…It is a throwback [for people] and for us, too, ours are large and we package ours and sell them prepackaged and people buy them in bulk and cut them in half and plate them if they have a party.”

And at Bredenbeck’s Bakery & Ice Cream Parlor, ice cream parlor manager Jesse Pearlmutter has been churning out 100 to 200 ice cream sandwiches a week right now, as customers come in for a scoop and look for something to take home for later.

“It’s been a priority for me to keep them in stock,” Pearlmutter said. “They are popular, they have been selling well and I think people have been taking them home.”

But why not make some yourself this weekend? It’s not as simple as scooping ice cream onto a cookie and smacking down the second cookie, but the experts broke the process down for me.

The first thing to remember is that you really have to work fast. While some experts suggest placing one thin layer of ice cream at a time on a cookie and freezing each layer before adding more, there is an alternate way to do it.

Begin with a hard-serve ice cream that is not too soft. Something in a tub like the Bassetts Bredenbeck’s uses works well, since none of us have soft serve machines at home. Take the ice cream out of the container and soften it for a few minutes in a bowl. Mix it with a spoon then quickly spread it into a sheet pan that has a two-inch high edge. Refreeze it for about 20 minutes until rehardened, then, using a round cookie cutter, cut out the proper size to place between two cookies.

Once you’ve sandwiched everything, roll them on a paper plate filled with sprinkles, chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs or just about any topping you like. The good news is almost anything will stick to the sides. Return the finished sandwiches to the freezer for a few hours and voila.

A few tips to remember: to be sure the cookie is bitable after its frozen, make sure it is not too thick. If you are using brownies, cut the brownie in half longways to thin it out and use each half to make the sandwich. Belgian waffles tend not to freeze as hard as other items.

Also try not to gob a scoop onto a cookie and smoosh it down. That’s a recipe for broken cookies and a very undistributed cookie-to-ice cream ratio near the edge of the sandwich.

“It will fall apart before it can refreeze,” Pearlmutter said. “You want a cohesive layer…rather than little pieces of ice cream.”

If you want to serve them outdoors, you again have to work quickly. Take them out only when you are ready to eat them.

But that’s the no-brainer part of the recipe we can all easily sink our teeth into.

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