It was cookbook author Flo Braker's Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, a nostalgic sweet I hadn't entertained the thought of for some time. The photo turned Emily and I into pen pals, after she immediately sent me a photo of the recipe, then emailed it to me.
What happened next? A true melding of minds.
I love mail, scrawled on various papers and layered up in a package that arrives just dented enough to look like it has been on a few travels, but we live in modern times: The notes were sent in zips and whooshes. Emily and I lobbed questions and comments back and forth at lightning speed, and that's when our idea was born.
Sam: I bet if you froze these, sliced them in half and dolloped ice cream in the center they'd be the best ice cream sandwiches.
Emily: Oh wow, your ice cream sandwich idea is brilliant!! We have a big Memorial Day party every year and I may double the recipe (using a half sheet pan) and try this.
Sam: Something about riding in a car to spark ingenius ice cream thoughts. I'm going to test it this week!
Emily: Anxious to hear how they turn out. Curious, did you add the cinnamon and/or cardamom? I added cinnamon—I liked it, though not sure I'll add it next time. I'm tempted to make another cookie cake soon—I think I over-baked mine by several minutes, and I'm guessing it'll be more soft-chewy if baked for less time.
Sam: I did half cinnamon and half cardamom. Mine's in the freezer for now until we shoot it, and I'll report back!
Thus was born Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was an interesting experiment, preparing a cookie dough for cake-baking. The less aerating, the better. And you really want to make sure it doesn't over-bake—this is essential for the texture of the cookie pieces, and for the ice cream sandwiches later.
I froze the cake after it had cooled completely and then, about an hour before we were ready to serve up sandwiches, I removed it from the freezer to bring it a little closer to room temperature. I sliced it into equal square parts—about 15 sandwiches'-worth—and then sliced each cookie piece in half crosswise. After plopping a scoop of coffee ice cream on a few, bites were had. And more bites.
Preparing this cake, and the resulting ice cream sandwiches, is tactile. It's hands in flour, on dough, on cookie. They're drippy-messy-gooey good—the cookie cake innards molding around the ice cream, encasing it but not too much (you want it to get on your hands just a little, right?).
The key is to keep the cookie cake firm enough so that it doesn't break down as you press the ice cream in the middle. The flip side is that you don't want it to be too hard (refer back to not over-baking!), or they're likely to not budge when you sink your teeth into them. This means underbake the whole cake just a little, and defrost the finished cake for less time than you think you should. The ice cream shouldn't be too melty when you drop a scoop onto the cookie cake—that will come with time.
The cake itself can be altered a bit: Choose different nuts to mix in, or dust it with coconut. Fill it with any flavor of ice cream from the aforementioned coffee, to coconut, cherry, salted caramel, to the old standby, vanilla.
This ice cream sandwich will make all your summertime cookouts better, not only because it serves a crowd but also because you can make it ahead of time and freeze it (no individual cookies to shape!), and then tote it along wherever your partying, the cake defrosting along the way. Slice it up when you get there, pull out some ice cream, press hard, go wild. You'll feel like a mash-up champion—and maybe you'll do some tinkering yourself, just like Emily and I did.
For the chocolate chip cookie cake
- 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup firmly packed (130 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 ounces (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the ice cream sandwiches:
- Your favorite ice cream, homemade or by the pint
- 1 chocolate chip cookie cake, recipe above