Friday, August 28, 2009

Chocolate Marble Chunk Ice Cream Sandwiches

I'm a sucker for a good ice cream sandwich (and, occasionally, even a mediocre store-bought one). I love the concept of commercial Chipwiches, chocolate chip cookies sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and coated with mini chips. But, let's face it, the individual components of a Chipwich aren't so hot. Bad chocolate chip cookies plus bad vanilla ice cream equals a bad product (though my husband Dicky thinks they are the pinnacle of frozen treats--I just smile and nod). So I decided to give the Chipwich my own spin. I started with one of my favorite cookies from my cookie book (The Good Cookie), Chocolate Marble Chunk Cookies. These are half chocolate, half regular chocolate chip cookie dough, baked together. They are loaded with chocolate chunks and pecans. Since there's so much action happening in the cookie, I decided to go with a very simple vanilla bean ice cream. For the ice cream, I use an excellent vanilla bean paste made by Nielsen-Massey, which eliminates the need to mess around with fresh vanilla beans. Once the sandwiches are assembled, wrap them individually in plastic, and store them in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve. You may never eat a Chipwich again (just kidding, Dicky!!).

Chocolate Marble Chunk Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes about 12 sandwiches

Chocolate Marble Chunk Cookies (makes about 40 cookies):
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened alkalized (Dutch-processed) cocoa powder, sifted
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet bar chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups pecan pieces

Vanilla Ice Cream (makes about 1 1/2 quarts):
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

Make the cookies:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Have 2 ungreased baking sheets at hand.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla extract at medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the flour mixture at low speed, mixing just until blended.
4. Transfer 1 3/4 cups of the dough to another bowl and set aside. Add the cocoa powder to the remaining dough in the mixer and mix on low speed until blended. Add half of the chocolate pieces and about half of the pecan pieces and mix until blended. Stir the remaining half of the chocolate and pecan pieces into the remaining light-colored dough. Fill half of a 1 tablespoon measure with the light dough, making it well rounded, not level. Fill the remaining half with the chocolate dough. Roll the doughs into a ball and place it on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten it into a 1 1/2-inch disc with your palm (wet it first, to prevent sticking). Repeat to form more cookies, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the lighter dough just begins to color. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the ice cream:
5. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, 3/4 cup cream and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk the yolks together with the salt. Whisk in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. Return this mixture to the remaining milk/cream in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and reaches 180°F. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and stir in the remaining 3/4 cup cream and the vanilla. Chill over an ice bath and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
6. Process in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours before assembling the sandwiches.

Assemble the sandwiches:
7. Arrange a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the underside of a cookie and top with another cookie. Gently press down on the top cookie to squeeze the ice cream to the edge of the cookies. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until serving.