Take two amazingly delicious homemade treats – strawberry cheesecake and a rich and creamy vanilla ice cream, swirl them together, and them make them portable by sandwiching it between two soft and chewy graham cracker cookies. Keep a batch on hand in the freezer, and have a ready-made blast of summer blast all year long!
ICE CREAM: Mix all ingredients together; bring to boil until slightly thickened; chill thoroughly; freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Spread into a 1/4 sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Dollop strawberry ripple and cheese cake filling on top and ripple with a knife. Freeze until solid.
STRAWBERRY RIPPLE: Slice strawberries and mix will other ingredients. Bring to a fast boil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour into a container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
CHEESE CAKE FILLING: Mix all ingredients together; chill.
GRAHAM CRACKER COOKIES: In a food processor, blitz the graham crackers into a fine crumb; add remaining ingredients. Portion out onto a parchment paper lined baking tray to create 14 cookies. Bake at 350°F/180°C for 12-14 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.
ASSEMBLY: Use a cookie or biscuit cutter approximately the same size as the cookies to cut out rounds of ice cream. Sandwich each round between two cookies. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in freezer.
MAKE IT YOUR WAY:
– Use any of your favorite summer fruit toppings to replace the strawberry ripple … raspberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.
– Roll the edges of the ice cream sandwich in nuts or ice cream sprinkles
– Add 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the cookie recipe to make a chocolate graham cracker cookie
– Use store-bought ice cream fruit topping in place of the strawberry ripple
– Purchase graham cracker crumbs instead of starting with whole graham crackers
– Use soft and chewy store-bought oatmeal cookies instead of making your own
As a kid (ok, even well into my adulthood!), I loved ice cream sandwiches. I have such fond memories of strategically tearing the paper away from the frozen treat and then savoring the vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookies as I walked around town with my friends in the summer. The vanilla ice cream was nothing special, but the soft chocolate cookies made the treat perfectly portable, which made it a perfect treat for those hot, lazy summer days.
Over the years, my idea of a great ice cream sandwich has changed. I still want the portability of a sandwich, but every component needs to taste delicious, be easy and convenient to eat without making a mess, and be something that I can keep in the freezer and pull out at a moment’s notice to share with family or guests. This isn’t asking for too much, is it?
While on the surface, an ice cream sandwich seems very straightforward … after all, it’s just cookies and ice cream, right? … in reality, it’s much more difficult to make a really exceptional home made ice cream sandwich.
Why? Well, for a couple of reasons …
You see, homemade ice cream has a tendency to not stand up well to being frozen for long periods of time, and often develops large ice crystals. This is partially due to the fact that your home freezer is not anywhere near as cold as the commercial freezers, and is small enough that anytime you open it, the temperature rises slightly, causing the items in the freezer to have small, repeated shifts in temperature. So each time it even slightly thaws, it has to re-freeze, which can result in ice crystals forming. In commercial ice cream, this is avoided by adding stabilizers that we, as home cooks, don’t typically have access to or want to use.
Another other ice cream issue is what I call “scoop-ability.” Or, in the case of ice cream sandwiches, “bite-ability.” This is how easy the ice cream is to scoop or bite into straight from the freezer. Again, in commercial applications, they use various gums and additives to achieve this quality, but a simple mixture of frozen milk, cream, and sugar turns into a solid block that needs to melt a bit before you can easily enjoy it.
Finally, the cookies. Homemade cookies like chocolate chip cookies that are made with a base of butter and sugar creamed together, tend to turn into hard-as-a-rock cookies when frozen. So as you try to bite into the ice cream sandwich, the firmness of the cookies ends up smooshing out all of the ice cream, which makes for a very unsatisfying and messy experience.
However, we’re making strawberry cheesecake ice cream here, right? So wouldn’t we want a more traditional pairing like graham crackers? And if so, why not just use graham crackers. Well, my friend, because graham crackers are crumbly and fragile, and will completely fall apart the second you try to take the first bite. And if you do get lucky and make it past that first bite, as the ice cream melts, they soak up the cream and become soggy and really pretty unpleasant to eat. So no, let’s not use plain graham crackers.
So, how to solve for these issues?
Well, first the ice cream. In this recipe, I’ve added three ingredients that help to address the issues:
1. Corn Starch. Corn starch helps to give the ice cream a smooth, silky texture when frozen.
2. Cream cheese. While it does add a bit of tangy flavor, the real purpose of cream cheese is that it acts as a stabilizer, and helps keep big ice crystals from forming as the ice cream freezes and is stored.
3. Syrup. Syrup doesn’t freeze solid, so using it to provide some of the sweetness in ice cream, also helps it remain scoopable, or, in this case, bite-able, even straight out of the freezer.
Now for the cookie. The goal here is to have a cookie that pairs well with the cheesecake flavor, is substantial enough to be a good vessel for the ice cream, and stays soft enough that you can eat it straight from the freezer without breaking your teeth. The solution? Keep the graham cracker, but make it into a cookie using melted butter.
Similar to how it brings a chewiness to brownies, melted butter in cookies makes them ideal for this. The cookies, even when frozen, remain chewy, but unlike using just straight graham crackers, they’re not so fragile that they crumble as you try to eat them. And while a cookie made with the more traditional approach of creaming butter and sugar together gets really hard in the freezer, these match the ice cream in being soft enough straight from the freezer to bite into.
So, now that we’ve solved for these issues, it’s time to get in the kitchen and start cooking. Because while each step is pretty quick and easy, lots of inactive time is needed for chilling and freezing, so plan on starting at least a full day before you want to enjoy these amazing Graham Cracker Cookie and Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwiches.