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Chocolate cake, ice cream are a perfect summer pairing

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    Designer ice cream sandwiches, made with amped-up cookies, fancy sprinkles and crazy flavors, can be tasty, but the classic combination of a chocolate base and vanilla ice cream pleases everyone who finds it in hand.

Summer is all about dashing through sprinklers and charging toward waves. Therefore the best summer foods — like fried chicken, hamburgers and corn on the cob — are portable, hand-held and free from fuss. We want to munch while experiencing the joys of the season.

For dessert, nothing fits the bill better than the classic ice cream sandwich.

Designer ice cream sandwiches, made with amped-up cookies, fancy sprinkles and crazy flavors, can be tasty, but the classic combination of a chocolate base and vanilla ice cream is plenty pleasing.

The pairing is basic, and so it is imperative that each element be lovely, a feat accomplished by making at least one of them from scratch.

The chocolate layers should have an addictive texture and taste of real chocolate. This version uses cocoa powder for a clean flavor, and has a delightful chewiness, like the edges of a perfect brownie. These cake layers are fudgy and soft enough to yield with each bite. (Errant ice cream squishing out the other end would be a disappointment and a distraction.) Baking one thin cake in a rimmed baking sheet, then cutting it in half, makes feeding a crowd easy and efficient.

If you aren’t making your ice cream, look for a premium brand with a high butterfat content and less air to ensure a harder freeze and a slower melt, as well as a luxurious and heavenly texture.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

  • 1 cup (128 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pints good-quality vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with butter and line with parchment.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. (Batter will be thick.)

Scrape batter into pan and smooth to a thin, even layer, leaving a small border of parchment around edges. Bake until cake is set, 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer pan to a rack to cool completely.

Remove ice cream from freezer and let stand a few minutes to soften slightly.

Lift parchment to transfer cake to cutting board. Cut in half to make 2 pieces about 9 by 13 inches each. Scoop ice cream evenly over one of the halves; spread into an even layer. Place remaining piece of cake over ice cream, top down, to make a large sandwich. Wrap securely in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.

Remove wrapping. Trim 1/4 inch off each edge, then cut into 12 smaller sandwiches. Wrap each one well in plastic and freeze again until firm. Serves 12.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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