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For the week: Homemade ice cream sandwiches perfect for the holiday weekend

BMTN food writer Lindsay Guentzel's columns aims to make life in the kitchen easier.

Explore Minnesota recently released a list of 43 Must Visit Minnesota Ice Cream Shops and I have to admit, the list made me feel incredibly disappointed in myself.

Of the 43 ice cream spots they picked across this great state, I’ve only been to seven of them. And of those seven, only two of them are outside the metro area. Sounds like a road trip is on my horizon.

How many of the ice cream spots on Explore Minnesota’s list have you been to?

The timing of this list felt very serendipitous. When I first saw it, I was in my kitchen getting ready for a cooking demonstration on The Jason Show. Making of all things, homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Ice cream sandwiches are one of my favorite treats. And I’m not just talking about the fancy ones. I’m talking about the old-fashioned Kempswiches you can find in any gas station chest freezer. But no one is making those gluten-free, at least that I know of.

So I set out to make an ice cream sandwich I could actually enjoy. I whipped up a batch of my monster cookies (flattening out the dough to give myself the perfect flat surface to hold a dollop of ice cream) and then set out to one of my favorite local ice cream shops to pick out the good stuff.

Here’s where Explore Minnesota’s list of ice cream shops can benefit you if you want to make your own homemade ice cream sandwiches this summer. 

Using small-batch, handcrafted ice cream makes a huge difference when trying to make a nice, round hockey puck of ice cream for your sandwich. It's made locally and sold locally. It doesn’t have any of the extras many store-bought ice creams have to include so they can keep their shelf life. 

Your local ice cream spot that is churning out unique flavors every week? They are making it to sell it and it is rarely sitting in the freezer for long, meaning it isn’t rock hard and actually has some pliability to it.

I noticed a big difference when I started working with a couple of pints from Honey & Mackie’s in Plymouth while prepping for my television segment. Everything about the ice cream felt, looked and tasted different compared to big brand products. Even the way it melted was different. It didn’t turn into a sticky puddle, more like a cloud of ice cream fluff.

Amy Albert, one of the owners of Honey & Mackie’s, told me: “We keep our ratio of cream fat to skim milk high. This allows us to maintain a fantastic flavor and density without having fillers or additives.”

Ah, yes. The words I was looking for. Fillers and additives. Food science is a tricky business and to keep grocery store shelves stocked, we need to use that science to give certain items longer lives. Ice cream falls into that category. And I’m not hating on big brand products. Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Chunk Fudge is one of my all-time favorites. But I will always try to support local businesses, especially restaurants and food service brands after the year they have had.

One thing you won’t find in Honey & Mackie’s ice cream are eggs. A lot of ice cream makers use eggs as an inexpensive way to get a creamy texture, according to Albert. 

They choose to go the more expensive and time-consuming route by using local products whenever possible and skipping any quick fixes to get their ice cream to the consumers faster (their ice cream has to set for 24 hours at -20℉).

There’s really no magic recipe for making ice cream sandwiches at home. You take two cookies, smash some ice cream between them and enjoy. It’s that simple. But if you want to take it up to the next level, make your own cookies and support one of the many great local ice cream shops in Minnesota who are scooping up the good stuff.

Tips for Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

  • Make sure you go for a cookie that is a little more soft or chewy than crunchy, especially if you are going to make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer. The monster cookies are a great option because of the oatmeal -- the texture works well when served cold.
  • You can definitely make them ahead of time. My advice? Lay each sandwich on a small piece of parchment paper, then wrap in foil. Make sure to give them 5 to 10 minutes to "wake up" outside the freezer before serving.
  • If you’re making your own cookies, make sure you let them cool properly before trying to add ice cream to the mix. It will make a mess. 

I owe you some barbeque tips. A few of you did email me with your own backyard BBQ tricks of the trade. I’m putting the finishing touches on my Summer BBQ Guide so if you have something I absolutely need to know, email me directly at Lindsay@BringMeTheNews.com or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram @lindsayguentzel.

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