Sometimes you want your ice cream sandwiches so thick, you can barely eat them. Other times, you really want an ice cream sandwich, but a magical one that will allow your skinny jeans to fit. And once in a while, you want the former but get the latter because you ate too much of your ice cream two days ago.
Guess which kind these are?
Sometimes, my work will order ice cream sandwiches to the office from this place. And while I do have a soft spot* for your basic run of the mill ice cream sandwiches of a vaguely chocolate, cakey wafer sandwiching what is supposed to be ice cream but is more like a suggestion of dairy, they can't hold a candle to these ice cream sandwiches. Three inches of creamy ice cream is held between two giant, soft cookies. If you get them in the shop the cookies are warm, but when we get them in the office they are frozen solid. It's a brick half the size of my face and impossible to eat delicately. They are always awesome, but they also always trigger a food coma around 2 pm that makes me want to bring back naptime in the worst way.
*and a very vivid, horrifying memory of how far I would go to eat one as a child, a memory I just cannot share but trust me it's all kinds of mortifying/hilarious/disturbing to me now.
In an attempt to get my ice cream sandwich fix in a closer proximity to various napping apparatus, I decided to make some at home. I still had about a pint of matcha ice cream in the depths of my freezer leftover from these, which I thought would go very well with strawberry. I briefly flirted with the idea of whoopie pies but decided on meringue instead, since I was pretty sure it wouldn't freeze as hard as cookies and I wanted to give myself a culinary challenge and attempt macarons.
Ha. I will continue to say "attempt" because I didn't quite end up with macarons, but I did get some pretty delicious, chewy, almond-meringue cookies flecked with strawberries. They went spectacularly with what was left of the matcha ice cream, which apparently, I had only not been eating because I forgot about it. Once I remembered it was there, I almost finished it before I got around to making these (and after making the meringue cookies, I was definitely not making ice cream). Because of that, these aren't showstoppers, but I actually really liked the ratio of ice cream to cookie. It was just enough to satisfy but not enough to trigger any digestion-related narcolepsy.
By far the most fun part of these was the strawberry. Turns out, pretty much all macaron recipes are exactly the same, with the flavor variations coming from the fillings, not the cookie itself. Which means all color variations come from food dye. Sometimes I worry that I'm still ridding my body of all the blue and red food dye I put in my flag cake last 4th of July, so I really wasn't jazzed about the idea of busting out red food coloring for these. Instead, I went with a more natural route.
I mean, look how brilliantly pink that stuff is! When I mixed it with the other cookie ingredients it faded to more of a blushy pink, but it was still so pretty, no food coloring needed. And it infused the cookies with a wonderful strawberry flavor without using any kind of extract or flavoring, which was exactly what I wanted.
OKAY FINE. You know what I did? One time I saw a half-eaten ice cream sandwich on the ground, miraculously still partially wrapped and only partially melted. I have no idea where it came from. All I remember is furtively looking around to see if anyone was watching and realizing I was completely alone on the sidewalk. So I grabbed my prize off the ground and ate it in two bites, tossed the wrapper on the ground and skipped home to eat dinner, knowing on some level that what I had just done was completely uncivilized but also thrilled at what I had gotten away with.
I'm pretty sure that's going way too far for an ice cream sandwich, but maybe (hopefully?) this was just typical behavior of any 5 year-old presented with forbidden pre-dinner dessert and opportunity, but who knows? My mother always said that dessert is a privilege, not a right, so I'd like to think I was just exercising my privilege to eat the beautiful gift the universe had quite literally dropped in my path.
Strawberry Macaron & Matcha Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 6 (or more), adapted from Molly Yeh
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup powdered strawberry (see note)
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
matcha ice cream (at least 6 good-sized scoops but a pint is better)
- Prepare your ice cream. Spread at least 6 scoops of softened ice cream on a cookie sheet with a silpat or wax paper and freeze.
- Sift, sift, and keep sifting together almond meal, powdered sugar and powdered strawberry into a large bowl. Discard any pieces of almond or strawberry that won't fit through the sifter (up to two tablespoons). Your brilliant strawberry powder should have mixed with almond and powdered sugar at this point to a faded, pale pink powder.
- Using a stand mixed with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites are foamy, then gradually add the granulated sugar. When all of the sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium high and beat the whites to stiff peaks. This should take about 5 minutes, and your egg whites should look stiff and shiny (see note).
- Gradually fold the almond-strawberry mixture into the egg whites with a rubber spatula and keep folding until the mixture is completely combined into a thick batter that flows off the spatula.
- Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (#12). Pipe the batter onto parchment lined baking sheets into 3 inch circles, starting at the outside edge and spiraling into the centers. It's helpful to trace circles with a flour-dipped cookie cutter or on the underside of the parchment with a pencil and then use them as a guide.
- Once you have piped the circles, pick up the baking sheets about an inch or so off the counter and drop them a few times to get the air bubbles out. Let sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes until films form on the tops and circles are dry to the touch. Let oven preheat to 300 degrees while you are waiting for the cookies to dry.
- Bake cookies for about 30-45 minutes, or until they come easily off the parchment. Let cool completely.
- To assemble cookies. Take your cookie sheet of frozen ice cream out of the freezer and cut out 3-inch circles using a round cookie or biscuit cutter. Working quickly, place a disk of ice cream between two meringue cookies, until all ice cream and cookie halves are used up. Transfer ice cream sandwiches back to the freezer to harden or enjoy immediately! Sandwiches can be stored for at least a couple of weeks in the freezer. The longer they keep, the softer the cookies will become. Delicious!
- I have actually seen powdered strawberry on Amazon, because they have everything, but the easiest thing to do is just grind up some freeze dried strawberries in the food processor. I used one bag (1.2 oz) of Trader Joe's freeze dried strawberries to get 1/2 cup of powder.
- When beating the egg whites, try really hard not to worry so much about over-beating them that you under-beat them like someone else did (definitely not me). But you know, also try really hard not to over-beat them. They should take about 5 minutes and be really shiny. If you under-beat them you will still have delicious meringue-like cookies but the tops probably won't dry out before baking and baking time could be about an hour and you will be driven crazy trying to peel the cookies off the parchment paper (not that I know this from experience or anything. Just explaining for a friend.) You got this.
- You will have way more batter than 6 cookies worth (12 halves). Just pipe smaller cookies and eat them sans ice cream or use more ice cream and make more sandwiches.