A good ice cream sandwich should have an alluring, yet sensible outer layer (the “bread,” if you will). It needs to be dry, flavorful, not too hard, and not too absorbent. This is why cookies are such a good candidate, but I’d like to encourage everyone to consider the Pop-Tart. It has all the ideal characteristics, including a jammy bonus layer, and they come in two-packs because the good people at Kellogg’s know they taste better in pairs. Plus, putting a stellar Pop-Tart ice cream sando together is easy (if you know what you’re doing).
Assembling this ice cream sandwich is as easy as swapping temps. That is, freeze your Pop-Tarts, and thaw your ice cream in the fridge. The pastry, and its wonderfully gelatinous filling, will firm up nicely in the freezer, so you can manoeuvre it during assembly without an accidental, fatal collapse as you smash on the ice cream. The semi-thawed ice cream will be easier to spread evenly and quickly without having to put too much pressure on the tart. A scoop of ice cream will also cling readily to a Pop-Tart that’s nearly frozen. When I tried a tester using one that was room temperature, the ice cream started liquifying and slipping off instantly, making the sandwich a miniature disaster.
Put the ice cream in the fridge and the Pop-Tarts in the freezer about 30 minutes before you intend to use them (or just keep them in there because frozen Pop-Tarts are superior to warm, raw ones). You could thaw the ice cream on the countertop in a pinch, but you’ll want to stir it after about 10 minutes to ensure a soft-serve consistency. If you leave it untouched, you risk the outer layer melting while the centre remains frozen. While this is still tasty, the point is to make it spreadable, and that ain’t it.
Take the ice cream out of the fridge and give it a stir. It should be easy to move around without becoming too melted, something slightly more firm than soft-serve. When it’s ready, put a pair of frozen Pop-Tarts on a plate, flat-side up, icing-side down. (If you eat un-iced Pop-Tarts then we need to have a chat.) Spread a heaping spoonful or two of softened ice cream onto one side and spread it out as much as possible. There’s no need to be perfect. It’s ice cream and you don’t have much time. Press the other Pop-Tart onto the ice cream and give it a gentle, but convincing squeeze. This will help push the ice cream out to the edge.
I used the classic strawberry frosted Pop-Tart with chocolate peanut butter ice cream, but you can use whatever pairing you like. Try a simple cherry-vanilla combination, or maybe brown sugar cinnamon with butter pecan. Enjoy this frozen dessert immediately after building it, or wrap it in foil and toss it into the freezer for later. You can even stockpile a few for dessert emergencies, afterall, a box of Pop-Tarts includes eight pieces of “bread.”
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