homemade ice cream sandwiches for a classic summer treat

We spend all winter dreaming of those long, lazy summer days. June arrives and…kapow! Swimming, biking, soccer, riding, BBQ, end of school-year activities, summer camps, festivals…it’s crazy! Yet, it’s all fun and somehow, those relaxed, lazy moments do weave themselves throughout the day.

So here’s the situation: in order to enjoy more of those long, languid times you need to spend less time in other areas. But, if you’re like me, the one area you won’t cut back on is creating good food. Real food. Food worthy of savoring under a summer sun. Over the next couple of months I have a couple of classic summer treats that are getting a refresh treatment with spices. Using spices, you can turn traditional summer dessert into a gourmet heavy-hitter in very little time.

Here’s the first of the perfect summer treats:

  • it’s easy,
  • it’s fast,
  • It’s good,
  • it’s a classic with a twist, and (best part) 
  • it doesn’t require any actual cooking.

Homemade Ice-Cream Sandwiches: Cinnamon, Honey, and Fig

Now, there are variations on the definition of a homemade ice-cream sandwich. On one end of the homemade scale you can make every single item from scratch. On the other, you can purchase the cookies and the ice-cream then assemble them at your house. I took the middle road. If you’re serious about scoring some summer downtime, I recommend you follow this path too.

Step 1. The Cookie: Newton Fruit Thins

As part of Foodbuzz’s TasteMaker program, Newton sent me a bag of their new cookies. Anytime I get a “please eat this” in the mail I check the ingredient list. If the list doesn’t pass the real food test I won’t write about it. Period.  The list is important. It has to resemble something that we could conceivably reproduce in an average kitchen. Newton’s Fruit Thins passed with flying colors:

Unbleached flour (like the “un” part), sugar (yeah, well it is a cookie), whole grain wheat flour, soybean/palm oil, rolled oats, dried figs, raisins, honey, salt, baking soda, rice flour, soy lecithin (a little iffy on this one), and cinnamon (natural flavor).

Do you agree? If you wanted, you could probably make a pretty decent homemade version of these cookies. If you do, we all applaud you…please share the recipe. But since one of the goals is a quick and easy summer treat I had no problem letting Newton take over the kitchen duty on this one.

Step 2. The Ice-Cream: Vanilla with Cinnamon and Honey

Since the cookies were already made I decided that I should put my time into the ice-cream. We use Cuisinart’s automatic ice-cream and sorbet maker. Mix up your ingredients, turn on the machine, pour it in and 25 minutes later you have ice-cream.

 This is where having a decent spice collection gets really fun. It’s pathetically easy to add a couple spices to a base and emerge with something that blows taste buds into euphoria. (Here’s another mind-numbingly simple homemade ice-cream that doesn’t taste that way.)  The question on hand was what to use for this particular dessert?

Vanilla ice-cream would be just fine. But vanilla is too expected in an ice-cream sandwich. So I took a cue from FingerSweet’s lesson on layering the flavors and let the cookie’s ingredient list determine the ice-cream flavor. It was right there: cinnamon and honey.

Homemade Cinnamon Honey Ice-Cream

  • 1 cup whole milk, well chilled.
  • 1/4 cup sugar (honey is a sweetener so I reduced the amount of white sugar by 1/2 cup).
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste. Please make sure your vanilla is the real deal, here’s how. Better yet, make your own.
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste.
  • 1-2 good solid squirts of honey, to taste.

Use a mixer or hand whisk (I use a Kitchen-Aid Mixer) to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn the machine on, pour mixture into the freezer bowl and let mix until thickened 25-30 min.  About halfway through (about 15 min.) add cinnamon powder. In the remaining 5 minutes add the honey directly into the freezer bowl.

Transfer ice-cream into a CHILLED container and place in the freezer to let it cure.

3. Assembling the sandwich.

Take a cookie. Put a generous scoop of ice-cream on the cookie. Gently press with a second cookie. Using a knife even out the edges. Quickly place in wax paper back in the freezer.

Alternative: Purchase the best vanilla ice-cream you can find. Transfer it into a bowl and let it soften slightly. Mix cinnamon and honey directly into the ice-cream. If you try this method use less honey because store-bought ice-cream will have the full load of sugar.

 Can you ‘fess up to any shortcuts to exceptional taste? What are your favorite summer treats?