Forget Brangelina, Bennifer and the disgusting duo that is Speidi. I had a favorite pair long before it was cool (and then predictably tired) to mash two names together. Granted, my hybrid was not an attempt at being trendy or cutesy but was simply the product of toddler-speak. Brothers Ben and Andy, or “Benandy” as I called them, lived across the street from my childhood home and having only an older sister, I loved inhabiting their strange world of boy.
Before the pinks and purples of Sanrio and scandalous lessons of Bev Niner came to command my attention, we spent our summers together competing for the worst skinned knees, pulling earthworms apart to watch the ends slink away and chasing makeshift stick boats in our bare feet down temporary rivers at the street’s edge in the rain. They waited patiently and sometimes played along as I took Barbie to the prom and I tried desperately to understand the appeal of baseball cards.
Every year on the 4th of July we ran from house to house, eating our way through each family’s spread of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans and macaroni salad. As the best of friends do, they thought no less of me the year I ate one brownie too many and literally got sick on a neighbor’s patio. (An incident that now seemed to offer clear foreshadowing of an adult life that revolves around food.) As dusk approached we lit sparklers, flinching as stray sparks pinged our wrists, and ate ice cream sandwiches on their front porch steps. In the thick humidity of summer, the ice cream melted faster than our tongues could lick and the drips left sticky white stripes down our arms and gooey cookie polka dots on our finger tips.
The following recipe is my homemade take on that summertime favorite. Say goodbye to the soggy sandwiches you find in grocery stores because I use one of the easiest and tastiest cookie recipes – the no-bake cookie. Pulled, I think, from an old Southern Living cookbook, the ingredients were always in my mom’s pantry and are still my quick-fix for weeknight chocolate cravings. The dense but soft texture of the cookie prevent them from freezing rock solid like so many ice cream sandwich recipes I see. Be sure to use a higher quality vanilla (or any flavor of your choice) ice cream for the filling as it needs a strong, rich flavor to stand up to the chocolate and peanut butter in the cookie.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes aprx. 2 dozen cookies or 12 ice cream sandwiches
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
3 cups oats (quick cooking)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
Vanilla ice cream
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes until sugar and cocoa dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until fully combined. Finally, add the oats one cup at a time and stir to incorporate.
2. Using a cookie dough scoop or large spoon, drop the batter onto parchment or waxed paper on the counter. Try to keep the cookies in even circles as much as possible. Allow cookies to cool completely at room temperature, until firm. Once cooled, transfer cookies to a parchment lined sheet pan and place in the freezer.
3. On another parchment lined sheet pan, with the same scoop used for the cookies scoop out the vanilla ice cream. Quickly place the scoops on the sheet pan equally spaced apart. Place another piece of parchment on top of the scoops, and use a sheet pan to flatten them into even disks. Transfer the disks into the freezer until firm.
4. Once the ice cream and cookies are both frozen and firm, remove the sheet pans from the freezer and quickly assemble the ice cream sandwiches. Do your best to pair cookies similar in shape with ice cream disks of equal size. Press the cookies firmly on either side of the ice cream and return to the freezer to set. Once the sandwiches set up, transfer them to a large plastic container for storage or wrap in small pieces of parchment for easy serving straight from the freezer.