Ice Cream Sandwiches + Black Cocoa

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge ice cream person. I think I’ve always been more of a sugar girl which is evident in my choice of a bowl of cookie dough bits over a bowl of fro-yo with a sprinkling of toppings at any given frozen yogurt shop.

That being said, I do think ice cream has its time and place, and that is squarely in the middle of summer. Preferably sandwiched in the middle of two cookies. See where I’m going here?

Cue the ice cream sandwiches! They’re the perfect summer decadence. At this time of year, I always remember an ice cream sandwich I used to have at home in the heat of august from a cart vendor at our local flea market. I’d stand in line (or rather my mom would stand in line for both of us) to get a homemade-version of the classic dark chocolate cookie sandwiching a rich vanilla ice cream. As soon as you get that baby in your hands, you gobble it all up before the heat melts everything.

Summer if I ever saw it. These are my homage to those ice cream sandwiches! Small-town Minnesota, I hope I do you proud!

And it’s about to get even more special because it’s my birthday! I turn the big 2-5. Just like last year, I started the summer off with a big move and tons of changes. I always welcome big personal and professional changes, and I’m very excited about this one! Boston is already feeling like home, so I can’t wait to feel this city out more and experience all it has to offer. (Though I wish I heard more wicked-strong accents…)

While these ice cream sandwiches are personally delicious and birthday celebration-like to me, I’ve picked flavors that are a favorite to many! First, we have mint (my absolute favorite ice cream flavor) made with fresh mint leaves. I couldn’t resist. Second, there’s raspberry! More tart but full of flavor and a wonderful color to ring in the warmest month of summer.

But my favorite part? No surprise here, the cookies. These are homemade oreo-like, adapted from Thomas Keller’s TKOs. The most reminiscent of that kid-favorite ice cream sandwich. The special deep dark color and flavor of these cookies come from black cocoa powder. An extremely under-utilized ingredient in my opinion. But what the heck makes it so dark?

Cue my obsession with chocolate, and indulge me a chance to talk about it on my birthday 😉

Cocoa powder is made from milling the cake that is created after grinding the nib and pressing the liquor (brush up on chocolate science here and here!). Once you have the powder, you can make a few decisions. The most important one is to Dutch or not-to-Dutch.

The Dutching process (which you may recognize from your “Dutch” cocoa powder label) is actually an alkalization process. It’s called Dutching because it was developed in the Netherlands.

The process itself involves adding an alkaline (basic or high pH) solution to cocoa. Often it is added prior to roasting of the nib that is pre-destined to become powder, though it can be added to the powder itself. This alkalization of the cocoa does a few things. Originally, it was intended to help the cocoa solubilize in milk or water-based drinks and remain suspended in solution. Think the original chocolate milk powder. It has a different purpose for us. It actually changes the flavor and color. Cocoa contains a lot of natural acids which can be harsh. If you’ve ever had a really high cocoa content, single-origin chocolate bar, you know what I’m talking about! The alkalization neutralizes these and mellows the flavor.

Now for that special black color. Dutching can influence the color in a wide variety of ways, but it is typically used to darken the cocoa. The alkali solution actually causes the cocoa to react and create more browning flavors and colors during the roasting process. (Remember, the Maillard reaction can be optimized at higher pH levels) Black cocoa powder is heavily Dutched giving it a really dark color and deep, yet mellow flavor. That being said, you can use Dutching to manipulate the cocoa production and create a variety of colors such as red or lighter browns.

By the way, I used King Arthur as my cocoa powder source. And if you’re going in for this, 100% make these bittersweet cookies from The Fauxmartha. You won’t regret it!

Enough cocoa talk, let’s make these babes! I used no-churn as my base because it’s less effort (hello, hot kitchen!) and honestly creates a great home ice cream. Pick your favorite or go to town on both. If you’re looking for some of the nerdy food science behind ice cream, and specifically no-churn ice cream, check out this quick post.

For assembly, don’t soften your ice cream too much! You want it to be hard enough to stay in between the cookies, and you don’t want the ice cream to soak into your cookies before you even get a quick bite in. Simply put a smallish scoop of ice cream on a cookie, sandwich it, and enjoy! No candles required, but these are birthday ice cream sandwiches, so maybe you’ll feel like they’re a bit more special for your summer celebrations too.

Mint No-Churn Ice Cream

½ oz fresh mint leaves (a big handful)

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon crème de menthe (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla

A pinch kosher salt

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream

  1. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, crème de menthe, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Blend together the mint leaves, sugar, and water until smooth. Gently whisk this into the sweetened condensed milk mixture.
  3. Whip the heavy cream until medium stiff peaks form. Add half of the mint/sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and blend together. Add the remaining mint mixture and fold in gently. Pour into a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Freeze ice cream until firm, about 6-8 hours or overnight.

Raspberry No-Churn Ice Cream

12 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A pinch Kosher salt

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream

  1. Blend the raspberries with the lemon juice until pureed. Strain the raspberries through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the seeds. This is easiest if you use a spoon to push the raspberry puree through the strainer and discard the collected raspberry seeds after each batch through the strainer.
  2. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk with the raspberry puree from step one and the salt.
  3. Whip the heavy cream until medium stiff peaks form. Add half of the raspberry/sweetened condensed milk mixture to the whipped cream and blend together. Add the remaining raspberry mixture and fold in gently. Pour into a loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Freeze ice cream until firm, about 6-8 hours or overnight.

Homemade Oreo-Style Cookies

Adapted from Bouchon Bakery, so there are weight measurements included for higher precision

Makes 24 cookies, depending on the size

1 ¾ cups + 1 ½ tablespoons (259 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (87 grams) black cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (161 grams) sugar

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth in a stand mixer, about 1-2 minutes. This will take longer if your butter is not at room temperature. Add the salt and sugar and beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape the bottoms and side of the bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture in two additions, beating at low speed each time just until incorporated.
  4. Dump the dough out onto your counter and use the heel of your hand to bring the dough together into a 6-inch square block or so.
  5. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (until firm) or up to 2 days.
  6. When ready to roll the dough out, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 325⁰F. Arrange the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.
  7. Take the dough from the fridge and unwrap. Place on top of a piece of parchment, and place a sheet of parchment on top of the dough block. Using a wooden rolling pin, pound the top of the dough working from left to right to flatten it slightly. Turn the dough 90⁰ and repeat. This will prevent the dough from cracking too much when you roll it out.
  8. Keeping the dough in between the parchment, roll it into a sheet about 1/8 inch thick. Use your cookie cutter of choice to cut the shapes out and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Repeat with the scraps, refrigerating if you find the dough becoming too soft.
  10. Once you have filled the sheets and used up the dough, slide both sheets into the oven on the racks.
  11. Bake for about 15 minutes, until fragrant, switching the baking sheets around halfway through. The tops of the cookies will have small cracks in them when they’re done, otherwise they’ll be hard to tell when they’re done.

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7 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday!!! These sound soooo good. I want to try that homemade ice cream sandwich from you hometown. While we were in NYC we should have gotten a Goodwich. Did you ever get those when you lived there? That’s the best ice cream sandwich I’ve ever had.

    • Kelsey
      July 27
      Reply

      No, I’ve never had one of those! They sound life-changing though. Thanks so much :) xoxo

    • Kelsey
      July 27
      Reply

      Thanks Tara! Hope all is well! xoxo

  2. Judy
    July 27
    Reply

    Yummm…I have to try this. Also…love the picture of you and your new apartment!

  3. Grandma
    July 29
    Reply

    Hope you had a great Birthday!!! Happy Birthday again.

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