Things this post has in common with my spinach turkey burgers post:
1. both are sandwiches.
2. both have delightfully green middles.
And that is where the similarities end, friends. Because this is a post about maybe the most refreshing thing you will make and subsequently inhale all summer long.
Probably all year long.
Imagine this: it’s hot. Sweltering, even. You’ve just had a lovely dinner and you want something to top it off, but not anything heavy, or laden with sauces and toppings. Fresh and bright, but more substantial than the fruit you picked on earlier. You want it to be portable, because who wants to make up (or clean, if you’re the host) one more dish, and besides: people are waiting on you to finish the game of croquet you conned everyone into playing earlier. And you don’t want to wait: you want it now.
*sigh* You are sooooo hard to please, and you know it. No one will be able to satisfy your cravings, and you should have known better than to get your hopes up.
But then you see it.
What is that? Why is it so adorable and also, why is it calling to me with a force beyond anything I’ve ever felt before? Because it’s a petite, completely portable, bracingly fresh, chocolate-coated ice cream sandwich. And it wants to be your summer after dinner-mint.
People, these things taste like frozen Andes Mints, only texturally way more entertaining. They function as both a breath-freshener and dessert, and simple to throw together ahead of time. What makes this simple? I’ll tell you:
1. Mint ice cream – It’s a Jeni’s Ice Creams recipe, which means no fooling around with egg yolks. It’s got fresh mint leaves and a wee bit of cream cheese to keep things scoopable. And like all Jeni’s ice creams, it’s exceptional.
2. Chocolate wafers – I most certainly did not make alarmingly thin, perfectly uniform chocolate wafers for this: rather, I used the Nabisco Famous Wafers in the special box which you must handle as carefully as you would a super-ripe peach, or else this happens:
but so long as you can be careful with them, you should be fine. More on that later.
3. The dipping chocolate – It’s a little something I’m obsessed with at the moment which requires no tempering whatsoever. It melts and coats even frozen things like a dream with seriously no mess and no melting; you can actually watch it harden right before your eyes. It’s amazing.
All of this makes for an easy, perfect summer dessert (or anytime dessert, or anytime snack, who are you kidding, you know you’re grabbing one of these things out of the freezer “accidentally” at 11 am) that’s totally unstressful to make. Make up the ice cream days ahead, if you’d like, then melt the chocolate, assemble the sandwiches the day of or evening before, and you’re all set. They really are that easy. Certainly if you don’t have access to an ice cream maker, you may substitute storebought ice cream, but do yourself a favor and go with a good-quality one: I’d recommend Talenti Mediterranean Mint because the flavor is very similar and made with fresh mint leaves like this one.
So let’s talk about the chocolate I used here. A while back, someone at Chocoley (a gourmet chocolate company out of Georgia) contacted me and asked me if I’d be interested in their products. You know me: I screen these offers pretty carefully because I won’t bite if there are strings attached. Oddly enough, they really wanted to just send me some product and I was under zero obligation to use the product, but if I did, they wouldn’t mind a little mention in the post. Now how cool is that? Companies, take note: you should be so confident in your product that you’re willing to send it out with nothing required in return on the notion that the recipient will be so happy with it they talk about you anyway. Chocoley, you win at confidence.
As well they should: First off, they asked me what I wanted to try versus sending me their own selections. Secondly, they called themselves “Oompas” – as in that was their job title – which automatically earns you extra fun points in my book. Thirdly, their product is of stellar quality and tastes like high-quality candy, versus those candy melts you can buy at craft stores that taste like waxy, “chocolate flavored” weirdness. So they have every reason to be confident that people will love their product.
The no-tempering thing, which is their “Bada Bing Bada Boom” line of dipping and coating chocolates (again, extra fun points for name) is pretty rock star. I barely had to pay attention to what i was doing, which means i could focus on putting the sandwiches together versus standing over hot chocolate. Since this chocolate is designed specifically for dipping things into, it’s thick, solidifies fast, and stays creamy even at a lukewarm temperature, making it ideal for any ice cream sandwich, really.
I used the Bada Bing Bada Boom dark chocolate and extra dark dipping and coating formula chocolate for this, and I’d recommend either strength for this; use what you like best. You can order it from their website, and I know it got to me really fast. Because it’s summertime, I’ll warn you: this chocolate wants to melt. That being said, make sure if you have a package coming that you don’t leave it sitting outside, and the same goes with inside: don’t leave your chocolate sitting in direct sunlight or in a warm spot or it will do exactly what it’s designed to do.
A few tips on making these, because ice cream sandwiches – especially chocolate-dipped ones – are really a learn-as-you-go thing:
- Make sure your ice cream is completely frozen – don’t think an hour in the freezer post-spin will cut it, because you want this as solid as possible. Freeze it in small, pint-sized containers and throw them back in the freezer if it starts to get too soft.
- Inspect the wafers at the store – Listen, these Nabisco wafers are fabulous, but they have a fault line right down the middle of them which makes them really prone to snapping in half. Inspect your chosen box at the store and then snuggle it like a newborn baby from checkout to sandwich assembly. Better yet, buy an extra box.
- Always work from the middle – when assembling these, support the bottom wafer in your hand while you gently lay the ice cream down in the center. Set the second wafer on top and then press both sides in from the very center; the more centered the pressure is, the more evenly the ice cream scoots towards the edge. Fine tune any gaps by applying pressure in their general direction.
- Maneuverability is key – What if Superman couldn’t find a phone booth when someone was in trouble? Chaos would ensue. I freeze a lipped sheet pan in my freezer, place a sheet of parchment on it, and pull it out and use it as my work surface. not only does it extend the assembly time a little, it also means accelerated my chocolate solidifies faster, my ice cream doesn’t drip, and I can move the entire thing to the freezer in one fell swoop should I need to.
- Keep stirring – Keep a spatula in your chocolate while you dip: it helps to scoot the pool of chocolate where it needs to go, and it keeps it smooth. You’re putting something frozen in something warm, which means the temperature on the warm thing is going to reduce each time you dip a sandwich. Eventually, your chocolate will begin to re-harden. Stop what you’re doing, place your frozen things in the freezer, and heat up that bottom pan of water again. I had to reheat the chocolate a few times during this process, and had no problems doing so.
I enjoy when I set out to write a brief post and it turns into a diatribe complete with outlines and a full tutorial. Someday I will publish something less than 1,500 words long.
Today is not that day.
Thank you again to the very charming oompas at Chocoley for sending me all their chocolate. I still have some left, which means you’ll see more of it as the summer progresses. If I don’t use it all up in repeat batches of these ice cream sandwiches, that is. Thank you also, Chocoley, for waiting basically forever for me to post something: I wanted to do something really great for you, because you have an incredible product which I will be using again, and I hope you love it what I did here.
Ice cream adapted only slightly from a recipe for Backyard Mint ice cream (and I did, in fact, use mint from my backyard) from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Britton-Bauer. Jeni is my hero, especially in the summer, but truly all the time. Her ice cream concoctions are magical.
Double Dark Chocolate-Dipped Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 32 sandwiches
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 ounces cream cheese*, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- large handful of fresh mint, either from your backyard or from your local market, roughly torn or chopped into small pieces
- up to 1/2 teaspoon of pure peppermint extract (optional)**
- a few drops green liquid food coloring (optional, but it gives it that hint of green)
- 2 boxes Nabisco Famous Wafers (check for broken pieces prior to purchase and then snuggle them all the way through the checkout and on the car ride home, not kidding). Handle with care.***
- 1 pound Chocoley dark or extra dark Bada Bing Bada Boom dipping and coating formula chocolate
*I have used other cream cheese varieties, and truly, Philadelphia brand seems to be the only one which doesn’t have a pronounced “is that cream cheese?” flavor in the finished ice cream. I wish this weren’t so, because certainly the Philly brand is the most costly, but it IS true, so use it.
**If you’re making the ice cream just to eat, doing without the extra boost of peppermint via the extract is perfectly fine. I wanted to bump up the flavor a little since I knew this ice cream was going up against both a chocolate cookie and a solid chocolate coating, and the extra extract gives it a more candy-like flavor, in my opinion. You can also use it if you feel like your mint isn’t as flavor-packed as you’d like it to be, but go slowly and start with a 1/4 teaspoon.
***And if you don’t feel like living on the edge like I do with an impossible-to-predict broken cookie variable, use a more sturdy cookie, but your finished product will be different than mine due to taste and thickness. I’d try this with an Oreo (scraped clean of filling, of course) or other darker, plain chocolate cookie of your choosing.
Things to do ahead of time:
Remember to throw your ice cream maker in the freezer for the required amount of time prior to starting this recipe: sometimes I forget, so I wanted to remind you. As i mentioned above, you extend your assembly time if you work on a cold surface, so throw a half sheet pan lined with parchment in your freezer as well, and remove it just before you begin to assemble the sandwiches. As far as tools, you’ll need a melon-baller or very small (like the smallest one) ice cream scoop and a regular teaspoon to scoop the ice cream balls.
Make the ice cream base:
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk. Set aside.
In a large bowl (which will fit inside a larger bowl when you do your ice bath later on), whisk together the cream cheese and salt until smooth and blended. Set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently, and once the mixture begins to boil, stir constantly for 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk together your cornstarch mixture once more (it tends to separate out if it sits too long) and add it to the cream mixture, stirring constantly. Place back over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour heated cream mixture slowly into cream cheese mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth and homogenous. Fill a larger bowl with cold water and ice, and float the bowl with your ice cream base inside it, stirring occasionally, until cooled. Remove from ice bath and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to steep.
Spin the ice cream:
Remove from the refrigerator and strain out the mint leaves using a fine mesh strainer. Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream machine and spin according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour frozen ice cream into canisters and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours, until solid.
Assemble the sandwiches:
Before you do anything, open your boxes of cookies carefully and remove them to see which are still intact, and lay them out gently so they’re easier to grab. Have your melon-baller/very small ice cream scoop and teaspoon at the ready, then set out your frozen ice cream and frozen sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Using the melon baller, scoop a heaping ball of ice cream out, rounding it out with the teaspoon. With a cookie face-up in one hand (support the center), gently set the ice cream ball in the middle. Top with another cookie and carefully press down from the center to spread the ice cream out to the edges evenly. Set on the prepared frozen sheet pan and repeat; I usually can get about 8-10 sandwiches assembled before I need to throw everything back in the freezer for a few minutes. Have a container ready to store your finished sandwiches, and repeat the process until you’ve completed all of your sandwiches. Let firm up in the freezer for at least an hour.
Melt the chocolate:
So the Chocoley people send along really great and really specific instructions (which you should follow) on how to melt their chocolate, and it’s exactly how I did it, and it worked beautifully. If you’re not using their chocolate, I suggest heating your chocolate in a double boiler over just simmering water, stirring frequently until it has melted. Set aside and allow to cool slightly: no one wants to put molten chocolate and frozen ice cream together unless they’re asking for trouble. My favorite thing about the Chocoley product is that it stays creamy and melted even when it’s basically at room temperature, which makes for easier sandwich assembly.
Dip the sandwiches:
Once your chocolate has cooled down but is still creamy, set up your workstation and remove your frozen pan once again from the freezer, along with the sandwiches. Working quickly, dip each sandwich halfway into the chocolate; I used a back-and-forth motion to really get the chocolate on the cookies and to make an even line. Bonus: the chocolate helps to stabilize any cracks or weak spots which happened along the way, so look at each sandwich before dipping to see if there’s any cracks to cover up. Set onto the parchment-lined frozen sheet pan and repeat until the chocolate begins to firm up again or the sandwiches need to be transferred to the freezer; like the sandwich assembly, you should be able to get through about 8-10 sandwiches, maybe more, before you need to reheat the chocolate and scoot the sandwiches back to the freezer. Repeat the process until all your ice cream sandwiches are chocolate covered.
These are best served either the day of (the chocolate coating firms up fast, so they’re ready maybe 20 minutes after you finish coating them, and that’s only to re-freeze the ice cream), and they store well up to 2 days in the freezer. Be sure to store them in an airtight container with wax or parchment paper in between the layers.