We know. Ice cream sandwiches are right there in your grocer’s freezer case. Why would you fuss and make your own?
Well, for the reasons that anyone bakes: The wafers are fresher. The fillings can be customized to your taste. Mostly, though, there’s an undeniable satisfaction in baking from scratch. It shows you care and, in the case of ice cream sandwiches, that you’re literally cool.
The trick is getting the ice cream between the wafers without becoming a melty mess. A tour of the Internet reveals various strategies — cutting and filling, filling and freezing, stacking and cutting, glopping and dripping. Thanks to a series of experiments (you’re welcome), we think we have the process down cold.
The key is planning ahead.
The first step is transferring a carton (1.5 quarts) of your choice of ice cream into a 9- by 9-inch pan lined with parchment paper, spreading it into an even layer, then letting the ice cream freeze solid once again. Give it 24 hours. Also, premium ice creams freeze harder than other ice creams.
Now, a word about the chocolate wafers themselves: We’re purists here; no using actual cookies and squishing them around a scoop of ice cream. The chocolate wafer — like a thin brownie — is integral to this treat. It must be firm enough to handle, yet soft enough that it yields to a bite without oozing ice cream.
We made two large wafer squares, then made a sort of giant ice cream sandwich that we then cut into shapes. We made nine (3-inch) Klondike-like sandwiches, but you also can cut rectangular, or even triangular, shapes.
Whatever you do, immediately wrap each sandwich individually in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for another couple of hours before serving. This melds the sandwich together and lets the wafer soften just a bit.
The moment of assembly is a good excuse for enlisting a helper: One cuts, one wraps. (Don’t worry; you can do this solo. Just don’t answer the phone.)
Consider these a grab-and-go dessert. You can doll them up by dipping the edges in sprinkles, toasted coconut, candied ginger, chopped peanuts — you get the idea. Or just enjoy them as the perfect handheld combo of ice cream and chocolate.
Having a supply of customized treats in your freezer is … wait for it … pretty cool.