So...the Fourth of July is around the corner and I thought it would be fun to share a bunch of July 4th-ish recipes so you could get a little jump start on planning for your holiday weekend. These scream "serve me at your BBQ" but are equally great while watching the Macy's fireworks in bed (which we did when it rained and we decided not to go out on my brother-in-law's boat--some of us wish we would make that an annual tradition as well, but that's another story!) Plus they're easy to make and everyone LOVES them!
I think ice cream sandwiches are the quintessential ice cream truck treat. When my kids were small there was an ice cream truck that liked to come up our block, ringing its "charming" bell around 8:00 p.m., just when everyone was bathed and getting into bed and of course, it was so exciting to buy it from the truck, that everyone would run out in pj's and pick their treat, even though no one really wanted to eat anything! One summer we ended up with about 20 ice cream truck ice cream sandwiches in the freezer!
But enough reminiscing, here's how to make these patriotic little guys--First, you make a very simple chocolate cookie dough that's very reminiscent of those classic ice cream sandwich wafers and chill it for a few hours, until it's firm enough to work with. Then you roll it out and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and bake them.
Meanwhile you freeze a large pan of vanilla ice cream You can either use your favorite store brand or make your own using this Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Ice Cream, perhaps? In any case you want to make sure your ice cream is really, really frozen because you are going to use that same star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out star-shaped blocks of ice cream, and if the ice cream is melty, your stars will start to get mushed and not so starry-like (Notice one of the slightly messed up little points as I tried to take pictures as the ice cream was steadily melting!)
Now it's just a matter of assembly--you place one star of ice cream atop a cookie, cover it with another, roll in sprinkles if you like and quickly place in the freezer to harden again.
The beauty part of these is that you can make them days before you want to serve them and then just walk out effortlessly totting a platter of these babies to cheers that will rival even the loudest of firecrackers!!
Star Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes at least one dozen 3-inch sandwiches, more if you roll out dough thinner or use a smaller cookie cutter
Prep Time: 10 minutes to spread out ice cream and at least 1 day to freeze it, 10 minutes to mix up cookie dough batter and at least 1 hour to chill dough. Bake Time: 7-8 minutes; Assembly Time: 15 minutes (you've got to work fast!) Chill Time: Several hours, preferably overnight
For the Ice Cream
1/2 gallon your favorite store-bought brand vanilla ice cream or make your own with this Philadelphia-Style Vanilla Ice Cream, softened so that it's spreadable.
For the Cookies
You will need a 3-inch star-shaped cookies cutter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable cooking spray to spray on cookie cutter to cut into ice cream block
Red, white and blue sprinkles (or any color you like)
1. For the Ice Cream: Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Spoon softened ice cream into the pan and spread out with a spatula trying to make it as even as possible. Cover well with plastic wrap and freeze for several hours or preferably overnight, until rock solid.
2. To make the Cookies: Place the butter, vegetable oil and brown sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer,beat together on medium speed until well combined. One at a time, beat in the eggs and then the vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix only until there are no traces of dry mixture left and a soft sticky dough has formed. Flour your hands, gather the dough into a ball and press into a flattened disc. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour, or until dough is somewhat firm.
4. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Flour a board lightly and turn the dough out onto it. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. If dough seems too sticky, add a bit more flour. Now dip the star cookie cutter into a bit of flour and cut out as many stars as you can, transferring them carefully to the cookie sheet in the process. Gather together the remaining dough, re-roll out and cut out more stars until all of the dough is used and cookies are on the sheets ready for baking. Brush off any excess flour on cookies with a pastry brush if necessary.
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes. You don't want to overbake these--they should be a bit soft so that they're not too crunchy when frozen. Let cool on the trays for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling completely.
6. When cookies are completely cool, pour sprinkles into a shallow bowl and set aside. Spray the underside of the star cookie cutter with a bit of vegetable cooking spray.Remove ice cream from freezer at last possible moment and cut out as many ice cream stars as possible. Working quickly, place an ice cream star on top of a cookie and top with another cookie. Roll in sprinkles (if using) and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze immediately. If ice cream gets too melty, place it back in the freezer to firm up (Alternatively, you can spread the ice cream on the cookies, you just won't get the stars as neat, but it'll still taste great!)
7. Ice cream sandwiches can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored, well-wrapped in the freezer.
Note: Cookie recipe adapted from Annie Eats. The original recipe is for traditional ice cream sandwiches--I adapted it for a star cookie cutter and cut down on the baking time and added the sprinkles. Ice Cream recipe is from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.