The 4th of July has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember (with Thanksgiving coming in a very close second). There’s something about the simplicity of the day that always makes me smile. Good food, family, and fireworks, along with an appreciation for our country. And, if you’re from Chicago, being able to celebrate somewhere other than the ottoman next to your fireplace for the first time in nine months is always a plus!!
I have a large family. And, as we get older and careers and significant others take us in different directions, attendance at family events is all over the place. But the 4th is an exception that we all rally for. It could be because we usually rent a dunk tank that family members like to use to settle unfinished business… but the more likely answer is because my mom, my sisters, and I make a deadly combo of desserts including Ina’s famous Flag Cake and, in recent years, homemade chipwiches.
If you don’t know what a chipwich is, I will tell you plain and simple:
A thick layer of creamy Midwest vanilla ice cream
Two homemade soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies
Yes, the Toll House sandwiches that your neighborhood ice cream truck stocked are nostalgic and delicious, but there’s something heavenly about making these bad boys from scratch. If you don’t believe me, then just ask my family, who, from the moment we wheel our red, dessert-packed cooler through the door, starts to sweet talk us into reserving a sandwich or two in advance of the after-dinner stampede. I don’t blame them…
This is actually one of the first years that I won’t be back in Chicago to celebrate thanks to some outrageous flight prices (so much for country spirit American Airlines!!), but my sister, who is interning in San Francisco for the summer, is flying down to LA for a few days and we’re going to have a little celebration of our own. We’ll probably still whip up a batch of our classic desserts, but since my sister is a serial chocoholic, I wanted to try my hand at a new chipwich combo: The Brownie-wich? Bro-wich? You get the point. It’s the fudgiest and chunkiest brownie ice cream sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
You could honestly make these bars with any brownie recipe. If you’re in a crunch for time, I’d recommend the Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie box mix, which, to be honest, is superior to most homemade brownie recipes, so there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. HOWEVER, I recently came across a recipe that gives Ghirardelli a run for their money, and of course, because it’s me, this is a “healthy” brownie rendition.
The recipe is from one of my favorite whole foods bakers, Erin Morrissey from Erin Lives Whole, who is just as sweet of a person as all the yummy goodness that she shares. They’re her Chickpea Brownies (GF/DF/V).
Now, hold up. Before you question my taste in desserts and never read another one of my posts again, let me tell you that this is the most popular and crazy highly-rated recipe that Erin has ever created. AND FOR GOOD REASON.
John goes berserk over these things, especially when I put them in the fridge overnight. It’s like eating fudge. I may or may not be guilting of putting these in my yogurt for breakfast… And, since we love eating them cold, I thought they would be the perfect choice for making into cookie sandwiches. I was right.
So, here we go! First, you’re going to want to follow Erin’s recipe for the brownies with a few minor changes.
Instead of pre-melting the coconut oil, I just put the whole blender cup of wet ingredients (including unmelted coconut oil) in microwave and microwave for 45 seconds. Then, I blend everything together. This makes the ingredients slightly warm, so that you when you add all of chocolate chips in the last step, some of them melt into the batter, making the brownies even more chocolatey!
Instead of the 8x8 pan, I used a 8.25x12.25 in pan so that the sandwich tops and bottoms would bake thinner (but not too thin)! You can use whatever rectangular pan you have at home, but just make sure your brownies bake at the right thickness for sandwiches (about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch).
Make sure to line your pan with parchment paper!! (super important) Otherwise, it will be too hard to lift the brownies out of the tray and you will have a brownie CRUMBLE.
Because of the thinner size, I baked the brownies for 15-16 minutes, not the 21-23 minutes that she has in her instructions.
Okay, now that you made the most delicious brownies in the world, put them in the freezer for 45+ minutes (depending on how fast your freezer works). You want them to be solid enough to stay in one piece, but no need to break your wrist slicing.
Remove your brownies and ice cream from the freezer at the same time. You can use whatever kind of ice cream you like. My all-time favorites are Coconut Bliss’s Mint Galactica (hands down the best DF ice cream you’ll ever eat and the mint is SO GOOD with the chocolate) and Graeter’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (and I used both of these above), but you can also use plain vanilla!
Run a sharp knife under warm water to slightly heat it and then dry your knife (this makes the brownies way easier to cut). Cut the brownies in half down the horizontal side (see above). At this point, your ice cream should be softened enough to scoop (10 minutes or so). Scoop the ice cream across one half of your brownies and spread evenly with a knife to your desired thickness. I did about 1/2 an inch of ice cream here, but I would probably do a little more next time!
After you finish spreading the ice cream evenly, carefully lift your other plain half of brownies on top of the ice cream half. I use two spatulas to hoist the other half so it doesn’t break. Make sure you do it right-side-up (with chocolate chips on top like you see above). After assembling, place your tray back in the freezer for another 45+ minutes until everything is frozen solid. Then, you can remove and cut into bars.
To slice into individual bars, follow the same instructions of heating the knife under warm water to make it easier. I sliced into four columns and three rows to make mini bars, but you can cut them into whatever size you like! You can wrap individual bars in parchment or store in an air-tight container in the freezer for months. Although they’ll probably be gone before then…
I can’t wait to see you guys make these. Have an awesome 4th of July!