The Secret to Making Perfect Ice Cream Sandwiches at Home

Ice cream slippage be gone.

The ice cream sandwich is a feat of engineering that, when done correctly, results in the most exquisite play of textures: two, cookie-like crusts held together by silky smooth ice cream. And when crunchy toppings get added to the mix, the whole thing becomes even more complex.

The ideal version of this frozen treat is one that maintains its structural integrity when you bite into it—that is, no ice cream sliding out at the sides. The cookie should add a bit of firmness, yes, but not be so brittle to the point that it snaps.

Weckerly’s, a small-batch, farm-to-scoop ice cream shop based in Philadelphia, stays true to such ideals. The simple design of a Weckerly’s ice cream sandwich—a clean-cut, rectangular ice block nestled between razor thin cookies—gives way to big ideas. Think imaginations like: citrus honey ice cream dotted with olive oil polenta cake and mascarpone icing, on graham crackers; or Thai tea-flavored ice cream paired with black pepper sugar cookies.

Making the perfect ice cream sandwich at home requires a bit more than slapping a spoon of ice cream in between two Chips Ahoy (though that doesn’t sound half-bad). If you’d like to help your frozen sandwich reach its optimal potential, the key is to bake a cookie the size of a sheet pan that’s ever-so-slightly undercooked—al dente, but for dough, if you will.

Then you’ll freeze the giant cookie and a flat slab of ice cream ahead of time before assembling. “You want the cookie to be on the same degree as the ice cream,” says Christine Ruxton, a baker at Weckerly’s. “This solidifies that bond between the hard cookie coming out of the freezer with that softer ice cream. And then the ice cream is setting directly on top of the cookie when it gets put back into the freezer.”

Having that softer cookie will allow for better sticking. “It’s frozen, but still pliable, which is cookie magic, really.” To achieve that softness, Ruxton proposes adding more brown sugar than white sugar, then setting the cook time for that just-baked texture. The result is a tidier sandwich that prevents the ice cream from pushing out the sides.

When it comes to the ice cream (store-bought is fine!), make sure it’s ever-so-melted before spreading it onto a parchment-lined tray and refreezing. “You want it to be as level as possible,” Ruxton says. The team at Weckerly’s likes to cut 2-by-3 rectangles out of the cookie and ice cream blocks. Ruxton suggests using a hot knife to make those chops (simply dip your knife in hot water in between cuts). Once you’ve assembled your sandwiches together, it might be helpful to wrap them in plastic to maintain their shape and aid in the binding process.

And don’t forget the toppings. It’s up to you whether you place the toppings within the actual ice cream, or attach them to the sides of the sandwich. “Your imagination is endless for what you can include,” Ruxton says. “But you don’t want the topping to be so hard that you can’t eat the ice cream. Chocolate bars, depending on the size, could be a little hard. But fudge, caramel, or pieces of more cookies will work just fine.”

While we’re getting as close to perfection as possible with this recipe, it’s worth remembering what made those sandwiches of yore truly great: ice cream dripping at the sides of your hands, fingers stained from brown, factory-made biscuits.

“I remember, as a kid, kind of enjoying the messiness of it all,” Ruxton says.

Weckerly's Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 67 grams sugar (5 ½ Tablespoons)
  • 129 grams brown sugar (⅝ cup)
  • 136 grams butter (⅝ cup)
  • 1 gram vanilla extract (¼ teaspoon)
  • 33 grams egg (or approximately one medium egg)
  • 36 grams milk (2 Tablespoons)
  • 126 grams flour (1 cup)
  • 26 grams cocoa powder (1 ¾ Tablespoons)
  • 1 gram baking soda (¼ teaspoon)
  • 4 grams salt (1 teaspoon)

Directions:

Make the cookie

1. Before starting, it’s best to have the ingredients at room temperature.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.
3. In a bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda together, making sure there are no lumps. Sift if needed.
5. In an electric mixer, mix together the sugars with the paddle attachment. Add hot butter with the mixer on low speed. Mix well and scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl. Add egg mixture at low speed and scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture, mix well so there are no lumps left. (All of this can be done by hand with a whisk if no mixer is handy.)
6. Spread out on a greased sheet pan with parchment paper.
7. Bake at 350ºF for 5-9 minutes. Cookie will still look wet but it is done!
8. Cool completely.
9. Using a bench scraper or paring knife, run along edges to release the cookie from the tray.

Assemble sandwiches

1. Use a cookie sheet the same size as those used to bake the cookies. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang all sides by at least half an inch. Use either freshly churned homemade ice cream or two pints of softened store-bought ice cream. Spread the ice cream onto the parchment-lined tray in a uniform layer. Place in the freezer for at least two hours.
2. Choose the size you would like for your sandwiches. We like 2-by-3. Cut the cookies to the chosen size.
3. Remove the ice cream tray from the freezer, remove parchment paper, and cut the ice cream into the same size as the cookies. Assemble sandwiches and place in the freezer until ready to serve.

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Jessica Sulima is a staff writer on the Food & Drink team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram