Every summer for the second half of August, my husband Tad's family decamps to a house in Wainscott, New York, that they've owned for 99 years. The big old house, which survived the 1938 hurricane, tolerates our wear and tear and seems to get more handsome by the year.
Our kids and their cousins spend their days going to the beach, catching crabs in the pond, playing tennis and soccer and flashlight tag, and then all collapsing into sleep in a pitched-ceiling room on the third floor, known as “The Crow’s Nest.” The parents, meanwhile, spend their days scrambling after the kids, sneaking in a little reading and tennis, and doing a lot of shopping and cooking.
Dinners are divided up so that each night just one person is in charge of the dinner for 12, giving everyone else a chance to relax a bit. On my cooking days, I tend to buy up as many tomatoes and ears of corn as possible from the farmstand, and head to The Seafood Shop for the main course.
On one of my nights this year, I made the Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches for dessert -– which were not only a Wildcard winner on the site, but a wild success among Tad’s family. While we devoured them, my father-in-law’s girlfriend, Mary -- yep, you can still have a girlfriend at age 81 -- told me about a favorite evening snack. She toasts two slices of whole wheat bread, and, while the bread’s still warm, smushes a scoop of chocolate ice cream between the slices. Et voila, an instant ice cream sandwich that's the rag-tag cousin of pain au chocolat.
Mary insists the whole wheat bread makes it healthy. I like Mary.
I made her ice cream sandwiches for my next dinner. Everyone watched skeptically as I loaded up toasts with chocolate ice cream and passed them around the table. I didn’t pull it off quite right -– I used a multi-grain baguette that was a bit too “multi” and baguette slices just aren’t cushy enough.
But back in Brooklyn, I got it right.
I used a loaf of soft and nutty sandwich bread and used a cookie cutter to make circles.
The circles, once toasted, should be crisp but fluffy. You want them to work as a buffer for the ice cream.
I made the roundest scoops of ice cream in my power, and topped the sandwich with another warm toast cap. Then I smushed.
And smushed. And smushed it down. Until the ice cream spread to the edge of the toast. These two little beauties look like they're posing, don't they? Wouldn't you?
There's no need to tweak this simple treat but, if you must, try adding flaky salt, or a warm, toasted marshmallow, or some hazelnut butter, slathered on the toast.
But wait -- we're not done yet! Remember the bread with the cut-out circle? No need to waste it -- this is a twofer, a recipe that would make Tamar Adler proud. Eat your ice cream sandwiches, and in the morning use the bread frames for Toad in a Hole or Merrill's One-Eyed Sandwiches.
Serves 4 (or many)
Photos by James Ransom
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now