Better Than It

Makes 12 ice cream sandwiches

Vanilla bean frozen custard:

4 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided

1 1/2 cups milk, whole or 2 percent, divided

3 tablespoons golden syrup or agave nectar

1 tablespoon tapioca starch

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, whisk yolks with 1 tablespoon sugar until smooth and slightly thickened. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, whisk 1/2 cup milk with the syrup, tapioca starch, salt and remaining 1/3 cup sugar until no lumps remain. Stir in cream and 1 cup milk. Scrape in vanilla bean seeds; toss in the pod. Heat over medium-high, stirring, until it begins to steam and slightly bubble around the edges.

3. Ladle 1 cup of the hot mixture into the yolks, whisking to prevent yolks from scrambling. Whisk mixture back into the saucepan; simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens enough to thickly coat a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a metal bowl. Set bowl over an ice and water bath. Stir occasionally until cool. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes before adding it to an ice cream maker.


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5. Churn mixture, according to manufacturer's instructions. Then cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Oatmeal cookies:

3/4 cup white whole wheat, whole wheat or oat flour

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raisins, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Using an electric mixer or by hand, mix butter and sugar until creamy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until well combined; stir in oats and raisins.

3. Scoop the batter in tablespoons onto baking sheets to form 24 cookies. Press cookies with lightly dampened fingers to flatten slightly -- they will spread as they bake. Bake until light golden around edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.

4. Cool on pan 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate shell:

1 pound extra bittersweet chocolate, 64 to 72 percent cacao

3 tablespoons neutral vegetable or coconut oil

1. Choose a metal bowl (for the stovetop) or microwave-safe bowl deep enough to submerge an ice cream sandwich and wide enough for easy dipping.

2. Melt chocolate and oil over, but not touching, simmering water (or use a microwave). You do not need to get the chocolate very hot, just warm enough to melt when stirred. Cool until the chocolate is just barely warm and still smooth and fluid.

Assembly:

1. Pair the cookies with like-size mates. Place a 1/4-cup scoop of ice cream between cookies. Press gently to squeeze the ice cream slightly beyond the edges. If desired, smooth the ice cream edges. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

2. Have a parchment-lined baking sheet in the freezer and the melted chocolate close at hand. Dunk an ice cream sandwich halfway into the chocolate, using a small offset spatula to scrape off excess. Transfer to the baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat with remaining ice cream sandwiches. Freeze until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes, before individually wrapping sandwiches or layering them between sheets of parchment in an airtight container in the freezer.

-- Jennie Schacht, "I Scream Sandwich!" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $19.95, 176 pages)