I’m baaaack! Anyone still out there? I know my little break for college turned into a nearly 9-month sabbatical, but I’m home for the summer and ready to be back in the kitchen! It’s been quite the year. I won’t go into all the cliches of going through the overwhelming, emotional roller coaster ride of freshman year, becoming better acquainted with myself and learning that it is possible to exist outside of familiarity and build a new little home-away-from-home….cause this is a baking blog, people! Hah. But it’s true. I’m sure I’ll figure out ways to slip in a few little personal stories here and there between recipes…I always seem to. 🙂
So, ready for the food part? Today’s recipe is for Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Vanilla-Cinnamon Ice Cream. Phew…I’m practically out of breath just typing it! But seriously, these are SO delicious. About a million steps up from the standard chocolate-chip-cookie-vanilla-ice-cream sandwiches you can buy at the store. Cause there’s BROWNED BUTTER, folks! And we all know that browned butter makes everything a million times better. Fact.
While I was at college (yep, we’re already going there!), the food was…not exactly top-notch. My school was definitely better than some, in terms of fresh fruit & veggies, gluten-free/vegetarian options, variety…but we’re still talking A LOT of salad bar creations and turkey sandwiches throughout the year. Since I don’t eat mammals (easiest way to describe my part-vegetarianism), there weren’t always a lot of choices, especially since I wanted to avoid the greasier options. The salad bar was decent, and I usually loaded up my plate of greens with fresh veggies, chickpeas or black beans, corn, cubed chicken breast and walnuts, but that doesn’t exactly scream flavor.
By the time school was out, I was desperate for some homemade food made with actual spices and seasonings other than massive amounts of MSG and salt. And now that I’m home, even the simplest meals taste so amazing! Last night I threw together a quick quinoa bowl with roasted veggies and peanut sauce, and it was soooo good. I’ll never take fresh ginger and garlic for granted again.
Now, here’s the part where I manage to tie my super-long tangent into the real recipe. The moral of this story is that sometimes flavor is just too good to pass up, even if it takes more work. For instance, these ice cream sandwich cookies take quite a bit of time between the browning and re-solidifying of butter, chilling of dough, baking of cookies, softening of ice cream, and re-freezing of cookies and ice cream, but IT IS WORTH IT. I wrote it in caps, so you know I mean it. Browned butter, as you may know, is my life. It adds such a nutty, almost caramel-like depth of flavor to whatever it’s used in, and is so easy to make. I mean, all it is is butter! I love to use it in cookies, especially when paired with dark brown sugar (which gives a hint of molasses undertones). Since this recipe, which is one of my favorites for CC cookies, uses softened butter rather than melted, I just chilled the browned butter until it was re-solidified. Yes, it takes time, but remember…FLAVOR!
I couldn’t just make chocolate chip cookies, especially for the recipe that resurfaced my blog from the depths of neglect. That’s why I added the browned butter. But I couldn’t just stop there, so I decided to sandwich the cookies with vanilla ice cream. But I couldn’t just leave it at that. So I changed it to CINNAMON vanilla ice cream which, when paired with the nutty browned butter flavor, makes for one phenomenal ice cream sandwich. A far cry from anything in my college’s cafeteria, that’s for sure! Adding cinnamon to the vanilla ice cream does add another step, and I guessss you could just use regular vanilla ice cream (or store-bought cinnamon ice cream, if you can find it!), but again….FLAVOR is worth the time. At least for my flavor-deprived-college-student tastebuds.
The end result was, as I hoped, totally worth the effort. None of the steps were hard in the least, and these ice cream sandwiches are the best I’ve ever had. Thick, chewy, browned butter chocolate chip cookies sandwiching a disc of creamy vanilla-cinnamon ice cream. They’re about as far from bland as you can get. Oh, how it’s good to be home!
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yield: about 24 cookies, or 12 ice cream sandwiches
For the cookies:
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
Up to a day ahead of time, allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes. When it is at a soft-serve consistency, add in 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and stir to combine. Spoon the ice cream into a 9×13 inch glass pan and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until firm. (If you want to save time, you can skip this step and just have plain vanilla ice cream.)
For the cookies, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Let the butter cook, whisking constantly, until it becomes golden-brown and fragrant. (This will take about 5 minutes, but watch it closely!) As soon as the butter is golden-brown, pour it into a shallow bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, or until it is solidified but still soft. If the butter gets too cold, allow it to sit out for 10-15 minutes or until slightly softened. (Again, you can skip this step and just use softened butter, but the browned butter flavor is seriously worth the time!)
In a medium-sized bowl, beat the browned butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla until well-incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet (I like to use a wooden spoon for this, rather than a mixer). Stir in the chocolate chips.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. When ready to bake, turn on the oven to 350 degrees F and let the dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Then form the dough into golf-ball-sized balls (about 1.5 tablespoons) and place onto lined cookie sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are set and the edges are slightly golden-brown. They may look slightly underdone, but this is okay–they will continue baking as they cool and will remain soft and chewy!
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
When the ice cream is firm and the cookies are very cold, take the cookies and ice cream out of the freezer. Place one cookie, face-down, on a square of plastic wrap. Using the bottom of a small glass (about 3 inches in diameter), cut a circle into the ice cream and transfer it onto the cookie. Place a second cookie on top and press slightly. Wrap up the sandwich in the plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Repeat with remaining cookies. Eat immediately or keep frozen. If the ice cream sandwiches have been frozen for several hours, 5-10 minutes at room temperature will make them easier to eat.
(Cookie recipe adapted from Anna Olson on Food Network)