Sometime in late August or early September, Starbucks and other retailers pull the trigger on Autumn, and Pumpkin Spice Everything appears in stores throughout the country. This feels premature to me. Pumpkin Spice calls for sweaters, chilly evenings, and brilliantly colored leaves. I don’t know where you live but that is not how my September rolls. Where I live it’s still pretty hot.
How to satisfy that yen for the cool days of Autumn on a sweltering 85-degree day? Ice cream sandwiches of course– specifically yummy vanilla ice cream sandwiched between pumpkin spice cookies and rolled in your choice of chocolate chips or rainbow sprinkles!
The hardest thing about this recipe is not making the cookies. It’s assembling the sandwiches without nibbling on all the delicious bits.
You can spread this out over a day or two. Once made the sandwiches will keep, well-wrapped, in the freezer for a month or more.
Start with the cookies.
The trick to these cookies is in beating the mixture long enough. Truthfully, you can’t over-beat it. When you think it is done, give it an extra minute. You may be surprised at how it changes.
Butter, pumpkin and sugar in the mixer. Beat at medium high speed for three minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get up anything not being mixed it and beat it again for 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat it again for three minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom and give it another two minutes at medium high speed.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and spices and add them to the pumpkin mixture. Use a spoon to stir the flour into the batter. Scrape the bottom to make sure it is all mixed in.
The batter will be thick and sticky.
Cover the mixing bowl and put the batter in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to drop equal size balls of batter on to the prepared sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. (Firm when you touch them). Remove the cookies from the oven and, using a flat bottomed glass, press them into flat circles. Put the cookies on a wire rack to cool.
You can make the cookies the day before and store in an air-tight container or freeze them. (No need to defrost when assembling the sandwiches!)
Next, get the ice cream ready to use.
Let it thaw until it is soft. Use a large spoon to scoop the ice cream out onto a wax paper or parchment lined quarter sheet baking pan. Spread it evenly in the pan and put it in the freezer until the ice cream is well frozen. This could take up to two hours or more. If you can put it in the freezer the day before.
I learned the hard way that the ice cream needs to be well frozen. Mine was a little soft with the result that the cookies kept slipping off the top of the sandwiches in the freezer, resulting in a messy sandwich!
I also learned that, if this happens to you, you can fix it by waiting until it is hard frozen then using a wet knife to reshape the ice cream. But more about that later.
When you are ready to make the sandwiches, get everything ready before you remove the ice cream from the freezer.
- Line two quarter sheet pans with parchment paper. Or you can use one half sheet pan. Whatever fits best. Put the pan(s) in the freezer
- Arrange the cookies in pairs, similar sized cookies together.
- Find a small cookie or biscuit cutter approximately the same size as most of the cookies.
- Get a small bowl of cold water.
Work quickly, with one sandwich at a time. Put each sandwich in the freezer on the prepared tray as soon as it is made.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer and use your cookie cutter to cut a round of ice cream. Dipping the cutter in the water before each cut will make it easier. Lift the paper under the ice cream if needed to remove the ice cream circle.
Place the ice cream circle on top of one of a pair of cookies and top with the other. Put it in the freezer immediately. Repeat until you run out of either ice cream or cookies.
If the ice cream starts to get too soft and the cookies start to slip off, pop the ice cream back in the freezer for 30 minutes or until it is hard again. Leave any cookies which have slipped off where they are in the freezer. You will fix this later.
Once all the cookies are made, leave them in the freezer for two-three hours until they are set.
To finish the sandwiches put the chocolate chips or rainbow sprinkles (or both!) on a plate. Take one sandwich out of the freezer at a time. Use a flat knife, dipped in water to smooth the edges. Replace any cookies which have fallen off (wipe the top of the ice cream with the knife to make this easier). In a really bad case, you may have to slice off some of the ice cream and return it to the other side.
Now roll the edges of the sandwich in the sprinkles or chips. Use your fingers to press them into the ice cream if needed.
Put the sandwich back in the freezer and repeat with the next one until you are done.
Leave the ice cream sandwiches to freeze solidly, overnight if you have time, then wrap each one individually in plastic wrap.
I made mine as a birthday present for my son-in-law so I printed out some fancy labels for presentation!
Honestly, this is a two or three day project but if you enjoy this type of thing (and I am guessing you do or you wouldn’t still be reading this!) it is worth it!
PUMPKIN SPICE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
For the Cookies
- 3 ¾ c flour
- ½ c cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 c 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ c sugar
- ½ c brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the Sandwich
- 1 qt vanilla ice cream
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Mini Chocolate Chips
Make the Cookies
- In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.
- Beat together the pumpkin, butter, white and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer at medium high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for two more minutes.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 3 more minutes on medium high speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a further two minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a large spoon or spatula, stir in the flour mixture. Be sure and scrape the bottom and sides so that it gets evenly mixed in.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line your baking trays with parchment paper.
- Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to drop even size balls of dough on to the prepared pan, 2 inches apart.
- Bake 14-16 minutes until firm to the touch.
- Remove the pan from the oven and, using a flat-bottomed glass, press the cookies into flat circles. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the Ice Cream
- Allow the ice cream to soften on the counter until it is easily scooped out and spread. Line a quarter-sheet pan (13” x 9.5”) with waxed or parchment paper.
- Scoop out the ice cream into the prepared pan and spread evenly in the pan.
- Put the pan in the freezer and allow to freeze solidly, 2 hours or more.
Assemble the Sandwiches
- Line a large pan or tray with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
- Pair the cookies together so that cookies of the same size are together.
- Select a round cookie cutter which is roughly the same size as the cookies.
- Set out a bowl of cold water.
- Remove the ice cream from the freezer.
- Working with one sandwich at a time, dip the cookie cutter in the cold water and cut a circle out of the ice cream. Use the paper to lift up the ice cream to help remove it if needed. Place the circle of ice cream on top of one cookie and top it with the other. Immediately put the sandwich on the tray in the freezer.
- Repeat until you run out of cookies or ice cream.
- Allow the sandwiches to set in the freezer, about two hours.
- When the sandwiches are set, pour the sprinkles or mini chocolate chips onto a plate.
- Remove one sandwich at a time from the freezer. Use a knife dipped in cold water to smooth the ice cream around the edges and make it look good.
- Roll the edges of the sandwich in the chosen topping, using your fingers to press in the chips or sprinkles as needed.
- Return the sandwich to the freezer.
- Allow the sandwiches to freeze solidly (best overnight) then wrap each one in plastic wrap to store.
- The sandwiches will keep for up to a month, tightly wrapped in the freezer.
Note: The cookies can be baked the day before and stored in an airtight container or frozen. If frozen there is no need to defrost them before proceeding with the assembly of the sandwiches.