The beauty of ice cream in summer is you really don’t need to do anything to it to enjoy it. A big unadorned bowl is a simple, delicious pleasure all on its own.
Still, sometimes we can’t help but tinker with perfection. So for our July Fourth celebration, we decided to take the season’s finest treat and make it even finer. We created a DIY ice cream sandwich buffet perfect for any backyard barbecue event. And we quickly discovered the possibilities were boggling.
Start with the “bread” of the sandwiches. We’re going to assume you don’t want to bake your own cookies. That’s fine, because there are all sorts of choices available at the grocer. And don’t hesitate to get creative. Graham crackers, slices of cake, even cinnamon buns or doughnuts can be pressed into service. Play around with different sizes, too. Small cookies can be used for ice cream sandwich “sliders.”
And don’t forget to dress your sandwiches. Smear toppings such as fudge, caramel or peanut sauce onto the cookies (much as you would when assembling a PB&J) before adding the ice cream.
Then there are the many choices of fillings — ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, sherbet ... We suggest serving them one of two ways. The easiest way is to soften the frozen treats slightly so they are easily scooped and spread on the “bread.” To soften them, you can either leave them at room temperature for 10 or so minutes, or microwave them for 10 to 20 seconds.
Alternatively, select frozen treats packed in pint-sized cardboard tubs. Use a serrated knife to carefully slice each tub crosswise into four or five rounds, then arrange the rounds on a baking sheet. Keep the rounds frozen until ready to assemble. Just don’t let the rounds sit out at room temperature too long while people are assembling their sandwiches; the ice cream will soften quickly.