Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Still Trying to Survive the Blue Bell Shortage...

My husband and I will be celebrating our fourth nananiversary tomorrow, so naturally I asked him what type of dessert he wanted me to bake to celebrate (you know, so I can keep my status as 'solid choice' wife material on lock). He immediately decided upon ice cream sandwiches. I was at first very excited and then extremely sad because we STILL HAVE NO BLUE BELL IN NEW MEXICO. I am barely scraping by at this point. So much so that when we head out to Dallas next week, we will be loading up a cooler full of half gallons to bring home with us. I am nothing if not devoted to my preferred brands. I mean, I may single-handedly be keeping the Banana Boat sunblock industry in play right now, no joke. So the thought of having to make ice cream sandwiches with anything but Blue Bell hurt me, but love sometimes causes us a little bit of pain, so I powered through and made some delectable ice cream sandwiches with my favorite M&M cookie recipe and Breyer's French Vanilla ice cream (shudder).
The perfect ratio of cookie to ice cream has been achieved!

I know, last week I was all, "Oh we're saying goodbye to summer with spiked root beer float cupcakes" and this week I am all, "Oh hey, ice cream is good, right?" Here's the thing about me and ice cream: it is real, and it is deep. It could be 12 degrees outside and snowing like crazy and I would still think it was the perfect time to go pick up some Dairy Queen...they are named Blizzards for a reason, aren't they? There is never a bad time for ice cream. Just man up and eat it while wrapped in your favorite blanky if it's too chilly outside. Besides, two cookies sandwich the ice cream in this case, so you have a warm, edible handle to hold on to. I think I've done a fantastic job of demonstrating why ice cream sandwiches are an appropriate choice for October, so let's get to the good part, shall we?
I bought way too many M&M's, but then I realized this wasn't actually a problem.
I have a tried-and-true cookie recipe that I have been using for a few years now. These cookies stay soft and moist for weeks because of one simple little ingredient: Jello pudding; thus proving that Jello can, in fact, be good for more than just adding booze to (although still a solid usage in my opinion). I send these cookies to Derek when he is deployed, to family members for various holidays, etc. They hold up fantastically, so I figured they would make an amazing base for ice cream sandwiches and stay soft after freezing. Move over thin, boring chocolate sandwich cookies (not you, Oreo's, you're cool), I'm about to make the magic happen. Here's what you need:
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temp
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 room temp egg
  • 2 cups of flour
  • Half a 3.4 ounce packet of  Jello vanilla instant pudding  (this is 2 heaping TBS)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup of M&M's (I used plain, but any other kind would work depending on your preference)
Start by mixing together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg until nice and fluffy. This usually takes about 3 minutes on medium/high. Add in a cup of the flour, mix well, and then add in the final cup. Mix together before adding in the pudding, baking soda, and salt. Finish up by mixing in the chocolate chips and M&M's. This recipe makes 24 cookies total.
Okay, it actually made 25. But one did not last long in this world before being eaten.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop heaping mounds onto Parchment-lined trays. Shape into rounds and place extra M&M's on top if you'd like them to be pretty. I go the extra mile there because eating pretty desserts actually does taste better. Science! Or extreme narcissism, but whatever. Cover up the trays with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for at least an hour or two. This will help the cookies not spread out and get too thin when baking. We want those ice cream sandwiches to be thick and tasty...and not at all reminiscent of a thin Communion wafer.
I'd probably go to church more if they just gave me cookies instead.

Once frozen, preheat your oven to 350 and remove the dough mounds and Parchment paper. Spray the pans with cooking spray and cook eight cookies on one cookie sheet for 11-12 minutes. Things won't spread out any since the cookies are frozen, so just look for golden edges to check for doneness. I flattened my cookies out a bit by gently pressing down on them after I took them out of the oven to give them a better shape for sandwiching. Let the tray cool down a bit before placing back into the freezer and bake the two remaining rounds of cookies on two more greased trays. You want the cookies to be solid when making the ice cream sandwich so you can apply pressure and squish down the ice cream, hence the freezing for about a half an hour because a warm cookie would just fall apart. Now, let me continue to blow your minds with a handy trick for making ice cream sandwiches!
The trick isn't actually cup stacking.

It's cup filling.
 If you place your ice cream into a plastic or paper cup, you give it the desired round shape needed for an ice cream sandwich. I only had plastic wine cups (because, hi, have you met me?), but small plastic cups would work best. All you need to do is pack it down into the cup and place back into the freezer to harden. I did this while my cookies were baking.
I have Popsicle sticks, so these almost went a whole different route.
I decided to stay true to the course and hacked away instead.

Once my cookies were done and frozen, I took each plastic cup out and cut it open with scissors and placed it on a cutting board. Then I cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick pieces to place in between two cookies, and an ice cream sandwich was born! I'm not drunk with power...just tipsy.
Can you blame me? They just look tasty.

But not nearly festive enough for October...enter the spooky sprinkles.

Since Halloween is undisputedly my favorite holiday, everything in my home has been on full creepy tilt since October 1st. Needless to say, I couldn't just let these ice cream sandwiches sit there looking all Fourth of July Americana. I had to make them spooky, and this is where the sprinkles came in. I realize you might be thinking that sprinkles are the least terrifying thing in the world unless you drop a jar full of them in your kitchen because you'll be cleaning up the aftermath for decades, but my sprinkles even had GHOSTS in them, so they were scary without the threat of a sprinkle grenade situation. Once my sandwiches were assembled, I simply rolled them in a bowl of sprinkles and placed back on a covered tray in my freezer.
I know, I have a serious Halloween problem.

Y'all...my husband is my idea man for a reason. These things are amazing even though they were made with nary a trace of Blue Bell. I might have died of pure bliss if they had been made with it, so perhaps I should thank the cruel fates for keeping my ice cream out of reach. These sandwiches are so easy to assemble, and yet they taste like something concocted at a Cold Stone Creamery. You get the Cold Stone experience at home without all the weird singing employees and the actually having to be in public-ness of it all. If that isn't a win for you, you're probably reading this off stolen WiFi in a coffee shop because you just can't get enough of having strangers around you. I'm gonna back away now and go cuddle with my dogs like a proper introvert. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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