How many rounds of testing does it take before a recipe is post-worthy? In school we were taught the ‘scientific method’ – the approach of making observations, asking questions, testing ideas, collecting data and drawing conclusions. Experiments should be repeated three times to ensure accurate and reliable results. I try to apply these best practices in my recipe creations to give the best to readers or anyone who is keen to try the recipe, but sometimes, enough is enough or I’ll end up eating the same dang thing every day!
The idea for these nice cream sandwiches took root one an early Sunday morning when dawn had yet to break. It started off as a simple affair of cookies dunked in nut milk, and then wanting to create something more extravagant, I set out for nice cream sandwiches – delightful iconic treats in portable packaging.
What makes a great ice cream sandwich? Evidently, the two players are the cookie and the ice cream; they dance a dynamic tango and require a careful balance of harmony and contrast. The cookies may be dense and chewy, or crisp and crumbly, but never hard. The cream filling should be smooth and supple in that it gives way when you bite through the cookie, but not so soft that it squishes out at the sides. It should be able to stand up to the cookie holder. The ice cream–to-cookie ratio is also important: I like mine about 3 parts cream to 1 part cookie.
Because of my general inexperience in cookie-making compounded with the criteria of devising a vegan and gluten-free one, I started with a simple dough spiced only with the classic warming spices – cinnamon, ginger and allspice. In the first attempt, I adapted a recipe from this website, using oat flour, coconut flour, yacon and honey as the main ingredients. The cookies came out trimultaneously soft, dry and gritty. The second round I tested whether the type of sweetener made a difference, pitting yacon and date syrup against each other. The verdict? Only to the highly sensitive tastebuds the date cookies would taste slightly sweeter. In the third round I endeavored to troubleshoot the texture problem with a different flour blend incorporating sorghum flour and potato starch. Recently I had been reading up on gluten-free baking; the former is akin to a substitute for all-purpose wheat flour, while potato starch adds moisture, structure and a light crispness. The final result for these cookies is succinctly described as a Gingersnap Shortbread – faintly fiery and snappy. While they lack in tenderness initially, they will, once stuffed with a generous amount of cream, soften to the perfect degree without the risk of being too dangerously hard.
A final note on this recipe. I used cookie cutters for a decorative feel and to obtain clean cuts, but feel free to take an easy and rustic approach using an ice cream scoop. Either way, it is bound to be delicious. Enjoy.
- ¾ cup oat flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup sorghum flour
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons yacon syrup
- 1-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 3 bananas, sliced into coins and frozen
- 3 tablespoons cashew nut pulp * (see Notes)
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter or your favorite nut butter (optional but highly recommended)
- Sift together the flours, spices, baking soda and salt. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup and 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk.
- Fold in the wet mix into the dry mix, and using your hands, shape to form a dough. Place the dough between parchment paper and roll out to ⅛-inch thickness. Place the dough sheet on a baking tray and chill for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.
- Take the cookie dough sheet out of the refrigerator and stamp cookies out with your preferred cookie cutter(s).
- Dehydrate the cookies at 115ºF / 42ºC for 14-24 hours until crunchy. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350ºF / 175ºC and bake the cookies for 11 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through to ensure even doneness. The cookies should be lightly golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks. Store the cookies in an airtight container.
- In a food processor, combine the frozen banana coins and cashew nut pulp and process until smooth. Transfer out to a wide shallow casserole. If using, drizzle the nut butter over the banana soft serve and use a rubber spatula to marble it through. Spread the soft serve out to 1½-inch thickness and freeze for one hour.
- When the nice cream is semi-solid but not fully frozen, remove the casserole from the freezer and use the same cutter(s) used for the cookies to cut matching shapes from the nice cream.
- Slice a block of nice cream onto the flat side of one cookie. Place a matching cookie on top, flat side down, and gently press to spread the ice cream evenly. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
- Serve immediately, or place in an airtight container and store in the freezer. The sandwiches may be stacked, but the edges should not touch. If frozen, allow to thaw at room temperature for 5 minutes before enjoying.