Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
These ice cream sandwiches look delightfully old school and carefree, but they do require a plan. Here it is:
Make the ice cream custard before you go to bed, so that it chills overnight in the refrigerator. (Also place the bowl of the ice cream maker in the freezer to freeze completely if this is your kind of machine.
Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker the next morning, and allow it to harden in the freezer while you make your shortbread. By the time the shortbread is ready to fill, your ice cream will likely be at exactly the right consistency.
If your sandwiches are off on an (insulated) adventure, you’re going to need another overnight freeze for your wrapped ice cream sandwiches to harden.
For the ice cream:
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the shortbread:
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, like Medaglia D’Oro (optional)
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
To make the ice cream:
Place the cream and milk into a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to a boil over a medium flame. While the cream is heating, crack the eggs into a heat-proof bowl and whisk them thoroughly with the sugar. Place the chopped chocolate into a separate heat-proof bowl. When the cream comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and pour very slowly into the egg mixture, while whisking.
Next, pour the hot cream/egg mixture through a sieve over the chopped chocolate. Allow this to sit for a minute or two, then whisk until perfectly smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the custard thoroughly. When the custard is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When the ice cream is frozen, scrape it into a container, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly to the surface of the ice cream (this will prevent ice crystals from forming), then place the cover on the container, or cover with one more layer of plastic wrap. Place in the freezer.
To make the shortbread:
Heat your oven to 350°.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held beater, cream the butter with the salt and sugar until it is very smooth and homogenous. Beat in the espresso powder, if using. Then add the flour and cocoa powder all at once.
Beat until the mixture is cohesive, and no dry flour remains. The dough should be very soft. Divide the dough equally in two.
Line an 11-inch x 18-inch cookie sheet with parchment. Press each ball of dough into a rough 9-inch x 6-inch rectangle on the cookie sheet. They don’t have to look perfect. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookie is dry, but not too hard. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
To assemble the ice cream sandwiches:
When the ice cream is slightly more frozen than when it came out of the ice cream maker, but not hard, remove it from the freezer (depending on your freezer, this may take anywhere from an hour to several hours).
Turn over one sheet of your cooled shortbread so that the flat side faces up. Spread roughly half of the ice cream onto the surface of the shortbread, spreading it to about ½ inch from the edges. Place the other rectangle of shortbread, flat side down, on top of the ice cream. Wrap the entire thing tightly in plastic wrap and freeze until hard. The ice cream will squeeze out to the edges, and that’s what you want it to do.
When ready to serve or pack up for later, remove this ginormous ice cream sandwich from the freezer, unwrap, and with a large, sharp chef’s knife, cut into 9 3-inch x 2-inch bricks. Serve immediately. Or, to serve later, wrap in parchment, securing the paper with twine or tape and store in the freezer, or take them wherever you’re going in a well-insulated ice chest.