Fourth of July

Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches That Are Better than Fireworks

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Erin McDowell shows us the true meaning of Independence Day—the freedom to eat as many ice cream sandwiches as we want.

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Judging by the weather and the number of people wearing shorts, it’s high time we start finding as many ways as possible to incorporate frozen treats into our diets. To me, ice cream sandwiches are the ultimate summer treat—they're a perfect combination of cookies, ice cream, and nostalgia. And while I’ve eaten my fair share of the store-bought variety, nothing beats a homemade one. 

There are millions of combinations worth noting (peanut butter cookies with raspberry or strawberry sorbet, chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, and fudgy chocolate cookies with coffee ice cream are a few of my standbys), but I’ve become especially partial to using sugar cookies as a base since they go with any flavor of ice cream I'm craving that day.

The main thing to remember when making an ice cream sandwich is to use a chewy cookie recipe: You want the cookie to be soft enough that it doesn't become brittle when frozen. Mrslarkin’s recipe for Chewy Sugar Cookies #2 hits this mark—the cookies are plenty soft after they hit the freezer and they spread thin enough while baking so that they're easy to bite through, plus they're crazy delicious. I've doubled the orginal recipe to make them almost twice as big because the larger the cookie, the more room you have to scoop ice cream onto (and therefore, the more ice cream you can have).

This weekend, we'll be filling the sandwiches with strawberry, vanilla, and blueberry ice cream—because what better a way to celebrate our country's independence this Fourth than with patriotic ice cream? I generally use the same-sized scoop to scoop the cookie dough and the ice cream. And once I've pressed the sandwich together so that the ice cream oozes out to the edges, I'll sometimes use a small offset spatula to scrape around the edges if I'm going for a clean, smooth look. Or, you can just let the ice cream do it’s thing and love it all the same.

After you fill the cookies with copious amounts of ice cream, return them to the freezer—you’ll want to give them at least 15 to 20 minutes to chill, and preferably a few hours to make sure they’re firm. For longer storage, wrap the sandwiches in wax paper. Be sure to share your favorite cookie-ice cream combos! We’re looking for enough inspiration to keep us cool all summer long.

Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 12 sandwiches

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups turbinado or coarse sugar
2 to 3 pints' worth strawberry, blueberry, and vanilla ice cream (store-bought or homemade)

Preheat the oven to 375° F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper then proceed with the following steps to make a double-batch of mrslarkin's Chewy Sugar Cookies #2.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the granulated and light brown sugars for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 1 additional minute. Scrape down the bowl again, then add vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Add the eggs to the mixture, then beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour, salt, and baking soda and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 1 additional minute.

Place the turbinado sugar in small, shallow bowl. Using a medium-sized (roughly 1/2 cup) cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop the balls of dough out and roll each in the turbinado sugar. Leaving roughly 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie, place the balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets so that you have 12 on each sheet.

Bake until the edges are golden, but the cookies look ever-so-slightly underdone, 9 to 11 minutes. 

Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and allow them to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Bring the ice cream out to soften a bit at room temperature, about 10 minutes. 

Turn half of the cookies upside down and use the same medium-sized scoop to place a mound of ice cream in the center of the upturned cookies, alternating between the three flavors so you have an equal number of red, white, and blue scoops. Top each scoop with the remaining cookies. Return the sandwiches to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or however long you like. For longer storage, wrap the sandwiches in wax paper before placing them in the freezer.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

1 Comment

Ashley H. June 30, 2015
The cheater's way? Costco cookies with any good vanilla ice cream. When I have time for homemade, giant ginger snaps with an orange ice cream...a holdover from one of my mom's cookbooks from the 70's!