Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ice Cream Sandwiches: Peanut Butter Cookies with Honey Ice Cream

Last week, I went on a baking binge.  In a span of five days, I baked a mascarpone cheesecake, a Mississippi mud pie, and two kinds of ice-cream to sandwich between two kinds of homemade cookies.  I had to throw a party just to get rid of it all! Ok, that's a lie, the party was the excuse for the baking (but baking can be a great excuse for a party!).  Miraculously (or perhaps due to my baking prowess?), every dessert went off without a hitch and attained blogworthy levels of deliciousness.  Pretty good track record for a total of six recipes (five new and never tested!).  I shouldn't gloat though... the universe will undoubtedly punish such pridefulness by causing my next six attempts to burn and curdle.  If I've exhausted my baking karma, the following four posts (oozing with chocolate, swimming in whipping cream, extolling the velvet textures of cheesecake and ice cream alike) should suffice until the divine deity of deliciousness warms up to my efforts again.

Let's start with the ice cream sandwiches... in particular, with the peanut butter cookie, honey ice-cream sandwiches.  For years, Peanut Butter has cheated on Jelly with Honey (including threesomes with Banana behind Jelly's back!).  Jelly's old hat, and this ice-cream sandwich needed something fresh, something special.  We're not talking Eskimo pies here, people (worst dessert.  Belongs in the same category as the tootsie roll - the cookie portion of the Eskimo pie purports to be chocolate but tastes like "brown").  I wanted a frozen treat to put It's It's, Klondikes, and even Haagen Dazs bars to shame.  I wanted an ice-cream sandwich that would seduce you into eating several even if you were too full for a single bite.  Peanut butter and jelly-ice-cream sandwich?  I don't think so.  Gloppy Jelly, tart and mottled with nagging seeds couldn't hold a candle to smooth, golden-sweet Honey.  Jelly was toast, and Peanut Butter (cookies) embraced Honey (in a billowing ice-cream gown bedecked with golden toffee-nuts).  They lived happily ever after ("until dessert do us part!").  At least, that's the romanticized version...

Both the ice cream and the cookies are fantastic by themselves as well.  The honey ice-cream is very rich, and the crunchiness of the toffee-nuts contrasts nicely with the silky cream.  I'm not a fan of crunchy cookies, however, so I specifically opted for a recipe that claimed to produce soft ones.  The key is to bake the cookies for just the right amount of time - if they start to brown, you've gone too far and they'll be on the crunchy side.  A perfectly baked batch of peanut butter cookies will still look a bit like melted balls of dough when you take them out of the oven.  Don't worry they'll firm up (without turning crunchy!). Thomas Keller, reigning King of Deliciousness, says that if you want soft cookies you should mist them with water before popping them in the oven, instead of under-baking them.  I can't vouch for that method, but go ahead and try it if you're willing to eat crunchy cookies should the mist method go awry. 

You may want to start the ice cream a day or two early to give the "batter" plenty of time to chill before you freeze it in your ice-cream maker.  Make sure to freeze your ice cream drum ahead of time!

Honey Ice Cream
1 vanilla bean
2c. heavy whipping cream
1c. whole milk
1/2 c. clover honey
1c. toffee peanuts

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and honey.  Slice the vanilla bean in half, carefully scrape the seeds into the pot, and then toss in the whole pod.  Stir over medium heat to dissolve the honey, until the cream is scalded (begins to form little bubbles around the edges).  Remove from heat and steep, covered, for one hour.  Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is best).  When you're ready to make the ice cream, remove the vanilla pod, stir the mixture to recombine the ingredients, and then pour into an ice-cream maker and proceed according to the ice-cream maker's instructions (usually the mixture churns for about half an hour).  After about fifteen minutes, pour the toffee peanuts into the ice-cream machine.  Continue churning according to the manufacturer's instructions (another 15 minutes) and then transfer the ice cream to a container and put it in the freezer to firm up (I recommend overnight, but a few hours should do the trick).  Meanwhile, make the peanut butter cookies. 

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
1 c. creamy peanut butter (not the oily natural kind)
1c. packed dark brown sugar
1c. white sugar
1c. softened butter
2 eggs
1t. baking soda
1t. baking powder
1t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars together.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the baking powder, baking soda, and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the rest of the batter until completely incorporated.  Shape the dough into balls (1 to 1.5 in will give you 40-50 cookies... more than you'll need!  The ice cream recipe makes enough to fill about 20 ice cream sandwiches depending on how big you make your cookies, and how thick you want your sandwiches) and roll the balls in sugar.  Place the dough-balls on cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie (I never follow this instruction, and my cookies always run together so that I end up with one giant cookie that I have to cut into squares... oh well, squares taste just as good as circles).  Use a fork to flatten the cookies by making a crosshatch pattern on each ball.  Dip the fork in sugar between each cookie to prevent it from sticking.  Bake the cookies for 6-7 minutes (resist the temptation to bake them longer if you want soft cookies!). Let the cookies cool completely before making the sandwiches.

When the cookies are completely cool and firm enough to handle, take the ice cream out of the freezer.  If you're ice cream has been chilling overnight, let it sit at room temperature for ten minutes so it will be more pliable.  Grab a cookie.  Dollop your desired amount of ice cream onto the underside of the cookie and gently press and spread it a bit with the back of a spoon.  Top with another cookie and pop the sandwich in the freezer while you repeat the process with the remaining cookies and ice cream.  When you run out of ice cream, remove the sandwiches from the freezer and either wrap them individually in plastic wrap, or do like me and toss them in a big Ziploc bag.  They will keep in the freezer for a few weeks (probably longer, but mine were eaten before I could test that theory out...).  Serve with a more ice cream sandwiches, a cheesecake, a pie, and party!

Up next... Brer Rabbit ice cream sandwiches (Molasses Cookies with Brown Sugar Ice Cream)


  1. I think I would have liked to be at your house last week....you baked some great desserts!But those peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwiches are amazing!!

  2. Thanks! I went a little overboard, but better to have too much dessert than not enough!

  3. Yuuuuummmm! I definitely need to try this one out now that I have an icecream maker! I miss coming home to delicious baked goods when we were roomies!! : (
    I'm up North now... let's get together soon!!!