S’mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

{This was originally a guest post I did for Spark last summer.   I couldn’t resist re-posting it over here.  Summer is coming, and this is a fabulous, if labor intensive, dessert to usher in the hot weather, long days, and all things fun.}

Homemade marshmallows turned into homemade ice cream, homemade graham crackers, and homemade chocolate sauce.  What’s not to love?

Coming up with the final recipe was a labor of love.  Over the period of several years, I would revisit my idea and test recipes every so often, but it was never perfect.

My plan had been to use homemade frozen marshmallows.  It was a fun idea, but the marshmallow cream was hard to work with.  I would make homemade marshmallows and then try to fold in whipped cream.  It was never fully mixed together, so there would be spots of marshmallow and spots of frozen whipped cream.  Not that anyone minded all the testing and retesting.  Tasty, tasty experiments.

One time I decided to Google “frozen marshmallows” and “marshmallow ice cream” and came across a post here for Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream.  I abandoned the frozen marshmallows in favor of toasting homemade marshmallows and turning them into luscious ice cream.  It was even better than I imagined.

It may seem like a lot of work, but the result is so magical it’s worth it–a surprising, fun treat for an afternoon or evening.  I’m thinking for a 4th of July BBQ.

Now, there are shortcuts you can take.  For instance, you don’t really have to make homemade marshmallows.  You can totally substitute store-bought.  Just use an equal amount.  As for the homemade graham crackers, you could use other cookies–chocolate chip, for instance.  If you do make homemade cookies, under-bake them slightly so they don’t get too hard in the freezer.  Brownies would also be a great variation–just bake one batch in two 9 by 13″ pans so the brownies are very thin.

Smore’s Ice Cream Sandwich Bars
original idea, adapted from several sources

Ingredients:

For Marshmallows:
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water, divided
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar

For Homemade Graham Crackers:
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (I use half whole wheat flour)
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For Ice Cream Base:
10 oz. homemade marshmallows (about 3/4 of the recipe; can use store-bought)
1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups light whipping cream

For Chocolate Layer:
1 package semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. butter

Instructions:

For Marshmallows:
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.

For Graham Crackers:
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Use a 3″ round cookie cutter to cut a total of 32 rounds, enough for 16 sandwiches, gathering up scraps as needed and rerolling.  Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 10 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

For Ice Cream Base:
Preheat oven broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lay half the marshmallows on the baking sheet and toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, watching very carefully so they don’t burn. Remove baking sheet from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Scrape the toasted marshmallows into the bowl of a food processor.  (You can also use a blender.)

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until thick.  Heat milk in a saucepan until very hot, but not boiling.  Gradually drizzle the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture while whisking.  After all of the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat until thickened and is 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.  Pour the hot custard into the food processor or blender and turn, pulsing on and off, until well combined.  Add the cold cream (if you are using a blender, it might not all fit, pour it into a bowl) and pulse again.  Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and chill in the refrigerator until very cold.  Because of the gelatin in the marshmallows, the custard will set up a bit.  Whisk to loosen it before churning in an ice cream maker.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer proof container.  Place a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream and allow to harden in the freezer for about an hour before assembling ice cream sandwiches.

For Chocolate Sauce:

Place the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.  Set aside until ready to use.  (If the sauce sets up too much or gets hard, heat gently in the microwave on 50% power until melted again.)

To assemble:

Place 16 of the graham crackers upside down on two wire racks placed on rimmed baking sheets.  Top each round with 1/4 cup of the ice cream.  Use a knife or spatula to press it down a bit.  Place the baking sheets in the freezer and allow the ice cream to get firm, about 15 minutes.

Spoon a good amount of the chocolate sauce over the ice cream and top with another graham cracker round.  Gently press down.  Place baking sheet into the freezer for another 15 minutes or so.  Wrap each ice cream sandwich in waxed paper and store in freezer until ready to serve.  Will keep for 2-3 days.
Makes 16, 3″ sandwiches.

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