When I first starting brainstorming ideas for an entire summer of sandwiches, I wanted to research different categories and branch off from there as the summer went along. One of the categories that I came up with was ice cream sandwiches.
I love making different ice creams in the summer (and winter for that matter…I know, I’m weird). The one thing I think about with ice cream sandwiches is that the cookie component needs to be soft even when it’s frozen. This requires a cookie that’s closer to a cake in texture than a cookie.
There are several things you can do to soften the texture and still keep it together: more liquid sugars like honey, maple syrup, corn/agave syrups or molasses.
I wanted to make a banana ice cream because I have fun with bananas on Instagram. The term “go bananas” is common in Sweden and I chat back and forth periodically with someone from there so it’s a playful way to add more to a fun friendship.
With such a naturally sweet ice cream (plus the sugar in the custard base), an almost bittersweet liquid sugar is needed in the cookie component. I went with a blackstrap molasses to level off the sweetness of the ice cream. When paired with the bittersweet nature of the cocoa powder in the cookie as well, it unified all of the flavours into a perfect blend.
Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chocolate Molasses Cookies
For the Banana Ice Cream:
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup raw cane sugar
1-2/3 cup milk (at least 2% milk)
1-2/3 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until slightly fluffy and ribbon-y smooth (about 2 minutes).
While whisking the egg yolks and sugar bring the milk and 2/3 cup of cream to a bare simmer in a medium pot.
Gradually whisk in the heated milk/cream into the egg yolk mixture until smoothly combined. Pour this mixture back into the medium pot and, over medium high heat, stir the mixture with a flat, flexible spatula. When the custard starts to thicken enough to coat the spatula thickly (about 7-9 minutes), remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining cream, vanilla and salt. Allow to cool.
When the mixture is cooled to almost room temperature, divide half of the mixture and purée the bananas into one half of the mixture. Pour the banana mixture back into the remaining custard, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill. Pour into your ice cream machine and churn for the time required by your specific machine. My machine takes about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large container with a tight fitting lid and freeze for at least 4 hours.
For the Chocolate Molasses Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (you can use fancy molasses if you prefer a milder flavour)
2-1/2 cups red fife flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter and sugar with a fork, whisking vigorously to combine until smooth. You shouldn’t hear any grittiness of the sugar remaining in the butter when it’s combined enough. Add the molasses and egg. Whisk together until it’s smoothly combined.
Add the flour/cocoa mixture a half a cup at a time. After each addition, whisk to combine. Add a tablespoon or so of milk, whisking to combine. Alternate adding the dry mixture with the milk, switching to a wooden spoon as the dough thickens. Divide the dough into thirds, wrap in parchment paper, then plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dust the kitchen counter liberally with flour. Remove one of the dough portions from the refrigerator (leaving the others chilled while you work). Roll out the dough portion to a thickness of 1/2cm (1/4″). Cut out cookies into whatever shape you desire. I was baking the cookies yesterday (which was Canada Day here), so I made a few maple leaf shaped cookies, but squares or rectangles are easier to fill with ice cream later. Place the cut out cookie dough on one of the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2cm/1″ in between cookies because they do spread a bit. Bake in the preheated oven for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
I subsequently froze the baked cookies for a few hours because any extra chill makes it easier to assemble the ice cream sandwiches.
Prepared Chocolate Molasses Cookies
Prepared Banana Ice Cream
Lay out half of the cookies, flat side up. Remove the ice cream from the freezer. Slice the ice cream into 2cm/1″ thick slices. Pry out the ice cream slices with an offset spatula. Cut the slice to fit the cookies. Top with another cookie. Wrap with plastic wrap and return to the freezer. Repeat with a few more cookies. I find I could only do about 4 or 5 sandwiches at a time before the ice cream softened too much to work with. You can return the remaining ice cream and cookies to the freezer to make more later. Makes 8-10 ice cream sandwiches with cookies about 10cm/4″ x 10cm/4″ square.