I’m a big fan of exercise; particularly Winnie-the-Pooh’s “stoutness exercises” designed to induce an appetite for all things yummy. Stoutness exercises that include actual stout are a bonus. Cookies and ice cream are even better. Cookies and ice cream both flavored with stout? I’m in.
These ice cream sandwiches were inspired by a few different sources: Humphry-Slocombe’s stout ice cream recipe, as featured in Beer West Magazine, and this stout oatmeal cookie recipe from Alaskan Brewing Company. These beautiful ice cream sandwiches from Karen at Honestly Yum encouraged me to put the two together.
Since the cookie and ice cream recipes both called for simmering stout until reduced to a syrup, I reduced the full quantity all at once, and I threw in a vanilla bean for fun.
I went pretty rogue (beer joke) on both recipes. I took down the sugar and salt in the ice cream, and tweaked the other ingredients as per my favorite ice cream base. The original recipe called for a touch of molasses, but I ended up leaving it out since the ice cream base tasted rich and dark enough as it was.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from stout ice cream, but now I’m thoroughly smitten (ice cream joke). It tastes a lot like coffee ice cream – deep and earthy, with chocolate notes smoothed by rich cream and sweet vanilla. But the finish carries a bite of hoppy bitterness that lets you know that this ice cream is something different. Something beery, to be precise.
In addition to filling these sandwiches, I think this ice cream would be at home atop any chocolate dessert, including warm chocolate bouchon cakes, or smoked porter chocolate cake. I’d also like to try a version with toffee bits folded in (after Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous‘s ballpark ice cream). And it’s heavenly when drizzled with warm butterscotch sauce.
As for the cookies, I melted the butter instead of creaming it, and added some vegetable oil with the hope that it would keep the cookies soft when frozen so that I could sink my teeth into a sandwich without the ice cream splooshing out the sides. (It worked!)
To stay with the beer theme, I used whole-grain barley flour instead of all-purpose. I used both quick oats and old-fashioned rolled oats for a soft texture that still had some chew. I added lots of chocolate, some toasted pecans and cacao nibs for crunch, and topped the cookies with a bit of flaky salt.
I had to try the recipe twice to get the cookies to spread thinly enough to make them into sandwiches. However I must say that I prefer the flavor of the first batch, which hardly spread at all, for eating on their own. They’re a little more mild and chewy due to extra flour and no vegetable oil. (I’ve included this variation down below – Jay says they’re the ultimate oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I brought them to a party, and people went crazy for them.)
When sandwiched together, the cookies and ice cream are creamy-chunky-gooey bliss. The sandwiches are mildly sweet, with a pronounced toasty flavor from the stout; a little grown-up, but familiar enough to satisfy the kid in you.
The recipe makes enough sandwiches to share.
Though you may want to think twice before offering them to any thirsty bears.
Boozy Ice Cream:
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Oatmeal Chocolate Stout Ice Cream Sandwiches
These sandwiches have beer in both the cookies and the ice cream. Thirty ounces of stout are simmered with a vanilla bean until reduced to one cup; half goes into the cookies and half into the ice cream. Start this project at least 1 day ahead to give the ice cream ample time to freeze. Use a rich, creamy stout or porter here; I used Bison’s Organic Chocolate Stout.
The cookies are sensitive to small variations in temperature. If your oven runs hot, they may not spread enough to make them into sandwiches. I recommend baking a tester or two to make sure you get the right spread; if they spread too much, increase the oven temperature. Too little, turn it down a notch. For more cookie baking tips and tricks, see my post on Soft and Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen (2 1/2″) ice cream sandwiches (1 quart of ice cream, and 4 dozen cookies)
Vanilla Stout Reduction:
30 ounces stout or porter (see headnote)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Stout Ice Cream:
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla stout reduction, cooled (from above)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Oatmeal Chocolate Stout Cookies:
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (scant 2 ounces) vegetable oil (such as sunflower)
1 cup (6 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vanilla stout reduction (from above)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) barley flour
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) quick (baby) oats
1 1/2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups (10 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (preferably 70% cacao mass)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
flaky salt, such as Maldon, for the tops
Reduce the stout:
Combine the stout and vanilla pod and seeds in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Over a medium-high flame, bring to a simmer. Cook, swirling occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup. (Check by pouring into a heat-proof measuring cup.) This will take around 20 minutes. (If you accidentally reduce the stout too much, make up the difference with more stout.) Cool the stout slightly. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Make the ice cream:
Warm the half and half in a medium saucepan set over a medium flame, swirling occasionally, until steaming. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium bowl. Set the bowl on a damp kitchen towel. When the half and half is warm, slowly drizzle half of it into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-proof silicone spatula, until the mixture thickens slightly and/or registers 170º on an instant-read thermometer, a few minutes.
Remove from the heat and immediately add the brown sugar and stout reduction, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the cold heavy cream. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, or up to 2 days.
When the mixture is very cold, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to get it even colder, giving it a stir every 10 minutes. (This ensures a dense ice cream, but you can skip this step if you prefer.) Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer it to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to several weeks.
Make the cookies:
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vegetable oil, sugars and eggs. Whisk in the stout reduction. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture along with the oats, chocolate, pecans, and cacao nibs. Stir until just combined. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for an hour.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough into 1 1/2″ balls (I use a #40 spring-loaded ice cream scoop) and place the balls at least 2″ apart on the lined cookie sheets. Top each with a few flecks of flaky salt.
Bake the cookies until they are golden around the edges and set on top, 10-12 minutes, rotating top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let cool completely. (Optionally, freeze the cookies before making the sandwiches; this makes them a little easier to handle, and helps to keep the ice cream cold. Layer the cookies between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container to prevent them from sticking.)
Assemble the sandwiches:
First, separate your cookies into matching pairs of approximately the same size and shapes. Working quickly and in batches, use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop (#24) to scoop scoops of ice cream onto the flat side of a cookie. Top with another cookie, and place in the freezer. Work quickly to prevent your ice cream from melting, using all the cookies and ice cream.
Store the sandwiches in a freezer-safe container either layered with parchment paper to prevent sticking, or wrapped individually with plastic wrap. The cookies should keep for up to a month.
Variation: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Stout Oatmeal Cookies
I like this version better when making the cookies to have on their own. They don’t spread enough to become sandwiches, but their flavor is milder, and their texture more toothsome. I brought these to a party, and people went mad for them.
Omit the vegetable oil and replace it with the same amount of butter. Increase the barley flour to 1 3/4 cups.