Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Scream, You Scream...

Sorry for the long time in between posts.  It's been a busy time, with the end of school, start of swim team and a 6-day trip to California's Sonoma County thrown in there.  But I'm back, and I thought I'd give you a fun, summery treat to make:  brownie ice cream sandwiches.

These are not hard, but they do take some time, as I unfortunately found out.  The day after we came back from California, we were getting together with friends to celebrate one of our birthdays, and I had volunteered dessert.  We had nearly nothing in the fridge (or pantry), but I thought I had a box brownie mix (don't judge), at least, and eggs to make the brownie part of the sandwiches before I had to run the boys out to the dentist.  In retrospect, I really did not plan any of this well. It turns out that I didn't have brownie mix in the house, so I had to do a quick brownie from scratch (don't laugh, it's possible, and I'll show you how). It made us a couple (literally two) minutes late for the dentist, but it was okay. Then I had to stop at the grocery store to get ice cream. Why not just get a brownie mix then, you might ask (and I might call you a smart ass)? Because the brownies needed to not only bake, but also cool completely before you can spread the ice cream on them. So there.

I apologize for the picture quality of the final product.  For some reason, my camera refused to focus on the brownie.  After taking, like, 15 pictures I just gave up.  Sorry. This was the best I could do.

The bad part was that the ice cream didn't harden up in time for the birthday celebration, so we ended up not eating them.  It's okay, though, 'cause I'm planning a taco party later this week, so we can serve them as dessert then.  See? It all works out in the end...

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brownie layer:

This is a simple, one-bowl (one-saucepan, actually) brownie. If you have all the ingredients, it should only take about 10 minutes to throw together. Honest!

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
8 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees (F). Prepare two rimmed baking sheets (10 inches by 14 inches).  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Grease (I used Crisco, but you can use butter or other type of shortening) the inside of the pan, then line with parchment paper (or waxed paper if you don't have parchment). Grease the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa, then tap the pans until they are coated with cocoa. Like this:

 TIP: if you're pressed for time, melt the butter and cocoa first, then while it cools, prepare the pans. Melt butter and cocoa in a 3 quart saucepan over low heat.  Stir until combined, then allow to cool (5 minutes or so).  Add sugar and vanilla, stir to combine thoroughly, then add one egg at a time, stirring after each egg to incorporate completely before adding another.  Add flour and salt, mix together until the flour is completely incorporated (you shouldn't see any white).  :-)

Evenly divide the batter between the two pans. I am horrible at this, so I used a measuring cup to help get the batter sort of equal.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until firm to the touch but not crispy or dark brown on the edges.  Pull pans out of the oven and let cool completely.

If you use a brownie mix, don't use the family-sized box of brownies.  Just get the kind that makes an 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.

Sandwich Assembly:

Allow 1.5 quarts of vanilla ice cream to soften.  If you have the time, you could let it soften in the fridge for a couple of hours, which would probably be preferable, but I had a deadline looming, so I didn't have time to do it the "right" way.  I let my container sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.  When the middle still wasn't soft enough, I plopped it in a large bowl and just started stirring.  That helped a little.

Once the ice cream is soft (but not too melty), spread it evenly over one of the pans of brownie. Run a knife around the edge of the other brownie pan, then turn it over on top of the ice cream-covered brownie.  Pull off the pan and the parchment paper, then cover completely with plastic wrap and return to the freezer and freeze until ice cream is firm.  This took a lot longer than I thought, so you want to allow at least 4 hours for this.

After the ice cream has hardened, remove from freezer.  Remove plastic wrap. Run a knife that you ran under hot water along the edges of the brownies (a warm knife will cut through the frozen brownie and ice cream easier and cleaner), place a cutting board (larger than the brownie pan) on top of the brownies, then flip the whole thing over so that the pan is now on top.  Lift off the pan and the parchment paper.

If you want the sandwiches to look really nice and even, you could trim off the sides (keep those trimmings, put them in a bowl and snack on them while you're finishing up...just a suggestion.  Don't want things to go to waste).  TIP: I use a pizza cutter to slice through the brownies. Cut bars into desired size (I got about 16). Wrap in squares of parchment paper and store in the freezer if you're not serving them right away.

Final thoughts:

You can customize these in so many ways.  I chopped up chocolate chips and toasted almonds and rolled the edges in them.  I also thought of spread raspberry sauce (you can see it in the picture) on one side of the brownie before I put it on top of the ice cream. I didn't do that this time, because a) I thought of it too late, and b) I was making these for kids and wasn't sure if they would eat them that way.  You also could use a different ice cream or cover in a ganache and freeze for a chocolate-covered brownie ice cream sandwich.  So decadent!