Ice cream sandwiches

I know fall is fast-approaching and it's time for pumpkins and earth tones but can we squeeze in one more summer treat?  Let's sit back and have an ice cream sandwich, as we flip through our summer photos and reminisce (because it already feels like a long time ago).
I finally made ice cream sandwiches this summer.  My son adores a good ice cream sandwich and it's one of those things I've been meaning to make - instead of buy - for so long now.  After tackling ice cream tacos, I figured it was past time.  And really, this is just a matter of making the thin, brownie-like, cake layer, then a little quick work (and okay, a teeny bit of mess) spreading some good ice cream in between.  Extra credit if you feel like adding some chocolate magic shell and sprinkles.  

I went with a recipe from The New York Times - it's really simple and I liked the appeal of thin brownie-like cake that's soft, slightly fudgy and chewy, as the cap between some good vanilla ice cream.  And when I conferred with my son, we agreed that a classic vanilla ice cream is the best choice for an ice cream sandwich; it's hard to beat that simple contrast between chocolate and vanilla that somehow seems to make both taste better.  
If you want to make it a real project, homemade ice cream is an option, but to save a ton of time, buy a high-quality ice cream to use here.  You want the denser kind that has a higher fat content and less air/overage.  Not only will the ice cream sandwich taste better and be more substantial, it will be easier to work with and less mess, as the ice cream melts a bit slower.  We liked Haagen Dazs ice cream best for this job; Ben & Jerry's is a good second choice in this case.  

You'll feel great having these treats wrapped up and stocked in your freezer.  They will go quick!


Levain Bakery style cookies

Somehow we went from June to September!  Summer break flashed by all too quickly despite our best efforts to slow it down.
Copycat Levain Bakery style cookies I make at home
It was a busy summer!  We savored the break, took a couple of trips, and got a lot of things done in between.  The big guy started high school!!  I spent the summer trying to come to terms with this huge milestone and all that goes with it.  Now, my nerves are settling down and we're adjusting to fall routines and life with a busy high schooler.  I'm thinking about warm comfort foods - like big, warm, melty chocolate chip cookies!

If you live around New York City or ask New Yorkers about places for great chocolate chip cookies, you're likely to hear about Levain Bakery.  Known for their big cookies (and I do mean, big, as they weigh in at 6 ounces a piece), typically served up still warm from the oven, they have a serious cult following.  To me, the Levain cookies are all about texture.  The huge cookies are crisp on the outside and so soft, gooey, and melty in the center.  This divine texture - served up in a big way - is what makes me crave them.  And as big as they are, these cookies go down easy and are quite easily habit-forming.
Actual Levain Bakery cookies. A box of these were recently gifted to us (what a treat!) so we finally had the chance to taste all four varieties made by the bakery.
Levain only makes 4 kinds of cookies (shown above): chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, and oatmeal raisin.  

I had my first Levain cookies in 2017 (photos of their chocolate chip walnut cookie from that day below) when we stopped by one of their NYC locations (miraculously, no line at the time) and bought the chocolate chip walnut and chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  Recently, we received a box of each as a gift and got to try them all.
I have to say that my favorite is the chocolate chip walnut and it's my favorite one to mimic at home!  I've also made the chocolate peanut butter chip because I couldn't get it out of my head after someone mentioned it was their favorite of the lineup; I made a version before I even had the chance to try the real thing! 

So I'd like to share the two copycat versions of these cookies I make at home.  They are great for when you're in the mood for some seriously hearty, delicious cookies to warm up your fall and winter days ahead.  You can find different renditions of these cookies but I'm happy with the following two recipes I landed on, which are now firmly in my cookie-baking repertoire.   


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