Is it summer yet? Let's refer to the checklist: Have I pulled my beloved Adidas pool slides from the back of the closet? Yes, thank you for asking, I'll be wearing them exclusively until October. Are there at least two bottles of wine chilling in my refrigerator? There are, so if you drop by my apartment last minute I'll have something cold to pour you. Is the AC on? Full blast, baby, yet my home remains quite swampy! And finally, how many ice cream sandwiches are in the freezer? Last summer, I would have sadly said zero and helped myself to another spoonful of butter pecan directly from the pint. But today is a new day, and this summer is already shaping up to be one for the books. I want to be ready for anything, which to me means never letting my homemade ice cream sandwich supply dip below a dozen.
It's hard to argue with the perfection of an ice cream sandwich, but I do think that it's a treat that's uniquely suited to this moment. The combination of warm weather and improving public health is a heady one, and my days are already full of park picnics, backyard barbecues, and rooftop cocktail-and-snack hours-both planned in advance with a Paperless Post and pitched to the group chat with 20 minutes' notice. A freezer full of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches means I never show up empty handed, and I don't need anything fussy to serve my contribution once I arrive: everyone can grab their own without utensils, sit wherever they're comfortable, and peel back the foil on something undeniably good.
To make ice cream sandwiches in bulk, I use a technique that relies on geometry-or as close as I'm willing to get to it at this mostly post-math point in my life. First, I bake thin bar cookies on a sheet pan, cutting the cooled slab into 32 rectangles (eight across on the long side, and four down the short side-I promise this matters).
Then I dump a few pints of softened ice cream into a plastic wrap-lined quarter sheet pan, smooth it into an even layer, and freeze until firm. Can you see where I'm going with this? Cutting the ice cream block into 16 pieces (four across, four down) creates everything you need to assemble picture-perfect ice cream sandwiches, with ice cream rectangles that match up flush against the cookies from edge to edge. (I've tried assembling the components into one big sandwich first and cutting later, but the results aren't as clean and straight-sided and I prioritize cuteness.) Freeze them again once assembled, then individually wrap or load the sandwiches into an airtight container or bag together to tote to your next party.
This technique works for any ice cream and thin bar cookie combination, and you should feel free to mix and match as you see fit. But for the recipe below, I opted for vanilla ice cream (it's a classic for a reason) and a tried-and-true cookie flavor pairing: chocolate and peanut butter. The cookies themselves are almost too easy to make, requiring two very simple, one-bowl doughs that you'll press into a greased sheet pan in a splotchy, cow-print pattern. If they tempt you straight from the oven and you can't wait for the ice cream part-speaking from experience-just be sure to eat an even number so you don't end up with a lone unfinished sandwich. The rest you can build and freeze for a later date, when they'll hit the spot by being salty and sweet, cold and creamy, and enough to make your friends forget that no one brought a bottle opener to the park.