It’s National Ice Cream Month!

There’s a food related observance for just about every day, week, and month, but I can really get behind July’s cause: ice cream.

Most of you probably know that I love to make ice cream at home (you can take a look here for the short list of flavors I’ve blogged about). Sadly, the only thing I’ve broken the ice cream maker out for this so far this summer has been lemon-raspberry sorbet. I need to ramp things up as we go through the rest of the summer.

But, I did happen to have my favorite store-bought ice cream brand, Blue Bunny, on hand last week and decided to use it to make ice cream sandwiches.

And, you know what? They were kind of a pain in the ass to make. The cookies were fairly simple to make, but working with the ice cream was really annoying.

This was the easy part.

You see, if you don’t work quickly, your ice cream will start to melt and you’ll have an “ice cream massacre” (as Deb from Smitten Kitchen called it) on your hands. I was able to put together about three sandwiches at a time before everything started dripping all over the place and I had to return the cookie sheet full of ice cream to the freezer to harden again. Because all of my projects become Chester’s projects, I made him stand by with sheets of plastic wrap so we could get the sandwiches into the freezer quickly. But, a fair amount of ice cream still seeped out the sides of each sandwich.

 

There is no mistaking that these guys are homemade.

Even though they were pretty tasty—the cookie had a similar taste to the ice cream sandwiches I remembered eating when I was younger, although it was a little crunchier and didn’t have that “stick to your fingers” quality that those versions had—I won’t be undertaking this little project again. It ended up taking me the better part (of a 103 degree day) to finish everything and left me and almost every surface of my kitchen counters covered in ice cream.

Or, maybe next time, I’ll just follow my friend Kate’s advice and use some break-and-bake Tollhouse cookies. Her ice cream sandwiches are a heck of a lot prettier than mine and I’m sure they were a heck of a lot faster to put together. Which is critical when you want an ice cream sandwich, like, yesterday.

Actually, do you know what’s even better than making ice cream at home? Having someone else do it for you.

We recently hit up Franklin Fountain, which re-creates the turn-of-the century ice cream parlor and soda fountain. The line frequently stretches out the door, but it’s worth the wait for homemade ice cream in all of the classic flavors, as well as massive ice cream sundaes. My mom and I shared the Mt. Vesuvius, which includes vanilla ice cream with bits of fudgy brownies and a generous helping of hot fudge, malted milk powder and whipped cream. Chester and my aunt gave high marks to the Chocolate Pretzel and the Hydrox Cookie ice cream, too.

I was barely able to set this down on the table before my mom had her spoon in it.

Some of my other Philadelphia favorites include Bassett’s Ice Cream, which opened in the Reading Terminal in 1893 and is run by the same family to this day. I like sitting at the marble counter and having a cup of plain old vanilla with a Famous 4th Street Cookie. There’s also Scoop DeVille near Rittenhouse Square, which bills itself as an “exotic” ice cream parlor and is known for its unique combinations of ice cream blended with lots of extras. You can choose your flavor combination (I like vanilla ice cream with peanut butter and pretzels) or choose from a menu of concoctions that includes the Snicker Doodle Dough (vanilla ice cream blended with sugar cookie dough, snickers, and caramel syrup) or the Wasabi Coconut Banana, with a touch of wasabi mustard powder. Finally, I’ll also include Capogiro on this list. I know, they serve gelato, but National Geographic Magazine calls it the number one place to eat ice cream in the world, so I suppose it counts. Flavors vary from day to day and from café to café. If you are traditionalist, you’ll always find the basics, such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. More adventurous palates will find an equally tempting array of flavors, such as cucumber and champagne mango.

Do you prefer to make your ice cream/ice cream based treats at home or go out? What are your favorite places and recipes?

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