september 10, 2016
Is it my imagination, or did the ice cream sandwiches of childhood taste better? You know the ones – vanilla ice cream snuggled between oblong chocolate wafer cookies. Back then, there was a pleasant snap of the cookies and a melting creaminess of the ice cream.
Ones I tried a few years back were tasteless cardboard plaques with waxy ice cream that refused to melt and dribble down my chin. And the vanilla flavor and aroma were not there.
Sigh. I gave up on that treat, and dismissed it as a childhood memory misremembered. Or not. I notice grownups are now indulging in all sorts of ice cream sandwiches and I have been longing to make my own. A good vanilla ice cream is always a good foil for cookies, cakes and pies, and here in Virginia we are lucky to have Homestead Creamery’s dairy products made from Roanoke Valley milk.
I knew the cookies would be less sweet than most, but with some heft and texture. I have occasionally added to The Good Eats Company dessert menu crispy quinoa cookies made with Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes – there is a good recipe on the box, made with peanut butter. The doctored version I came up with was sturdy enough to support ice cream and airy enough to avoid the heavy, gooey texture of a frozen chocolate chip cookie. Almond and chocolate are a good pairing. Yes, there must be a chocolate component….
Strolling the aisles of Trade Joe’s I saw a little packet of dark chocolate covered cacao nibs and vowed on the spot to add them on the basis of their perky appearance and crispy cuteness. And because they contain dark chocolate and cacao nibs they must be healthful. Are you on the same page with me, that these quinoa almond ice cream sandwiches, kept at the ready in your freezer, are health food? Amen to that.
Two make ahead options are as follows. The cookies will last at room temperature up to one week, or can be stored in the freezer for when you want to throw together a sandwich with softened ice cream. Or, you can build the ice cream sandwiches, then store them tightly covered in the freezer for an even faster fix. Kept this way, the cookies become more moist and chewy if that is your preference. Either way, capture a childhood memory with this easy sweet.
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes enough for seven sandwiches
¾ cup quinoa flakes
one cup gluten free flour*
one teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup almond butter
⅓ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
one teaspoon pure almond extract
⅔ cup dark chocolate covered cacao nibs (I used Trader Joe’s 3.5 ounce pack)
* a gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum added, like Bob’s Red Mill 1-for1 brand, will keep these cookies from crumbling and have a more balanced flavor than simply a rice flour
for assembly : one quart best quality vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together quinoa flakes, GF flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, beat butter and almond butter with electric mixer until just combined
- Add brown sugar, honey and almond extract, beating until just combined.
- Add dry ingredients and then cacao nibs, mixing until just blended.
- With 2 tablespoon scooper (one purposed for cookie dough or ice cream – measure first using water if you are not certain of your scoop’s size), make dough balls and place at least two inches apart on baking sheet (avoid using insulated baking sheets -cookies will not brown properly), about six balls per sheet.
- Flatten dough balls slightly and bake for 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
- Allow cookies to cool on sheets 1-2 minutes before removing to cool on racks.
- There will be about 15 cookies total, enough for 14 sandwiches with one for the cook.
- Store cookies at room temperature in a cool spot up to one week, or in the freezer.
- For assembly, have ice cream soft enough to scoop and use about ⅓ cup (one large ice cream scoop) for each sandwich, placing in the center of one cookie and gently pressing another atop.
- Serve immediately, or freeze the sandwiches in an airtight container for enjoying later.