Recipe Spotlight

We Engineered the Perfect Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches 

The cookie part of an ice cream sandwich is usually tasteless and hard as a rock. Two keys to fixing these issues? The right kind of sugar and more water in the dough.
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Published Aug. 25, 2022.

When Senior Editor Lan Lam decided to make Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, she figured she had the cookie part all figured out. She baked a batch of our Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (famous for a complex, toffee-like flavor that’s not too sweet), sandwiched pairs around scoops of premium ice cream, and froze the assemblies until solid.

Then, she served them to the rest of us. The cookies were so rock-hard that our teeth couldn’t get through them, and all that force caused the ice cream to squish out the sides. When we finally did bite through the cookies, we found that the cold temperature had completely dulled their exceptional butterscotch flavor.

Obviously, these chocolate chip cookies weren’t perfect for ice cream sandwiches, but the dough made a good jumping-off point for calibrating a great sandwich cookie.

After many hours in the test kitchen, Lan came up with recommendations for how to tweak the dough to produce cookies with deep toffee flavor that are tender enough to bite through when cold but still firm enough to house a generous layer of ice cream.

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Easy Tricks for Better Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

  • Swap out regular chocolate chips for mini morsels. Mini chips have a delicate crunch that is easier to bite through than regular-size chips.
  • Replace granulated sugar with dark brown sugar. The molasses in brown sugar is a source of simple sugars (glucose and fructose) that are hygroscopic—that is, very effective at attracting water. Brown sugar also boosts that prized deep toffee flavor.
  • Brown all of the butter to make it taste rich and round. Also, increase the amounts of vanilla and salt. All of these tweaks add up to cookies that boast big toffee-like, hazelnutty richness even after spending hours in the freezer.
  • Here’s the biggest key of all: Add more water to the dough. Two tablespoons make for cookies sturdy enough to sandwich the ice cream but tender enough to bite through with just a hint of snap.

Why More Water Makes Softer Frozen Cookies

The dough for the chocolate chip cookies that we make into ice cream sandwiches contains almost twice as much water as our regular cookie dough. That may sound counterintuitive–you’d think frozen water would make cookies harder–but it works because the sugar in the dough lowers the temperature at which water freezes, keeping it fluid. By increasing the amount of sugary water in the dough, we were able to make the cookies more tender.

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 10 tablespoons unsalted butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and scraping skillet constantly with rubber spatula, until milk solids are dark golden brown and butter has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to heatproof large bowl. Whisk in ¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt until fully incorporated and let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5⅔ ounces) all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon baking soda together in second bowl; set aside.
  2. Add 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons water, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to browned butter mixture and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in ½ cup (3 ounces) mini semisweet chocolate chips. (Dough will be very soft.)
  3. Using #60 scoop or 1-tablespoon measure, evenly space 12 mounds of dough on each prepared sheet. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Want to see how the ice cream sandwiches come together? Watch the video.

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