Ice Cream Sandwiches & Sarah’s Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I’ve been dying to share this recipe with you since I first made it a few weeks ago. These cookies from Sarah Kieffer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog are simply magnificent. I’d been thinking about making them for some time, but couldn’t come up with a decent reason to justify a batch. Finally, fate stepped in and gave me a snow day. As soon as I pried my eyes open and checked my phone at 5:00 am to discover-joyously-I wouldn’t be going in to work that day, my body instantly ached to bake something. And while I didn’t anticipate posting this recipe, this is certainly one for the books. These are some of the best cookies I’ve tasted.

As we were planning a brief getaway in Chelan the following weekend with family to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday, I decided these cookies were destined to become ice cream sandwich cookies (perhaps the best decision I’ve made as of late). I picked out a vanilla ice cream (as I am usually a traditionalist when it comes to my cookies and ice cream) and a pint of So Delicious Cashew Milk Snickerdoodle ice cream (to honor my adventurous, experimental side) and packed them in the cooler for the trek over the mountains.
We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday on Saturday night after a long day of cross-country skiing. Sore, cold, and exhausted we broke into these cookies and piled indulgent (I almost wrote “obscene”) mounds of ice cream in the middle, with a single candle sticking out of the fine specimen destined for my mother-in-law. While my husband reports that the vanilla worked well, the Snickerdoodle combination was by far the favorite complement to the cookies. We devoured the sandwiches in reverent, messy silence. The ice cream melted rapidly (as we didn’t waste any time chilling them in the fridge, which I recommend below), so we mopped it up using broken bits of cookie until our plates were clean, and sat back in bliss before diving into a decidedly heated game of Pinnacle.

These were quite the treat and I am already brainstorming the next flavor combination: Molly Moon’s coconut raspberry ice cream is the front-runner, or, for now, a strawberry ice cream substitute, as the raspberry won’t be in season for several months.

While the ice cream definitely adds to this dessert, these cookies themselves are the show-stopper. They are massive and chocolatey, soft and chewy with a subtle crunch of raw cane sugar on top. They possess a subtle hint of cardamom (my favorite spice), and would, I wager, satisfy any sweet tooth. I couldn’t ask for a better cookie to serve as a vehicle for ice cream. And as always, I’ve modified them to be gluten- and dairy-free so they are accessible to most folks.
Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chocolate Sugar Cookies (GF + DF)
Modified from Sarah Kieffer’s The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
Serves 6 (12-large cookies)

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (i.e., Namaste Perfect Flour Blend)
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup Earth Balance (or unsalted butter), room temperature
1 3/4 cups raw cane sugar, plus 1 – 1 1/2 cups for rolling
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 teaspoon cardamom, for rolling

1-quart ice cream (non-dairy or regular) (e.g., strawberry, old-fashioned vanilla, cinnamon-your choice)

Directions
For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combined gluten-free flour, cocoa power, baking soda, and salt.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating for an additionally 2 or 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and beat on low until the flour mixture is just combined.

Mix the remaining sugar and cardamom in a small bowl. Roll out large balls of dough (about the size of a golf ball) and dredge them in sugar mixture. Place 6 cookies on the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 11 minutes until the edges are set and the tops begin to crack.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

For the ice cream sandwiches:
Once the cookies have cooled completely, or the following day if time permits, match up cookies in pairs based on similar size and shape. Remove the ice cream from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving to warm up slightly so it is easier to work with. Lay out each pair of cookies, bottom facing up. Place a generous scoop or two of ice cream in the center of one of each pair of cookies. Using a dinner knife or spatula, smooth out the ice cream into an even layer leaving a little space around the edge as the ice cream will squish out a bit when putting the two cookies together. Once the ice cream is smooth, set the second cookie on top and push down slightly. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to prevent premature melting and then serve.

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