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Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Expand your horizons with an ice cream buffet

  • An ice cream sandwich buffet, including a chocolate ice cream sandwich (front center), is a fun way to entertain for the Fourth of July or any barbecu...

    Matthew Mead / Associated Press

    An ice cream sandwich buffet, including a chocolate ice cream sandwich (front center), is a fun way to entertain for the Fourth of July or any barbecue or celebration this summer.

The beauty of ice cream in summer is you really don't need to do anything to it to enjoy it. A big unadorned bowl is a simple, delicious pleasure all on its own.
Still, sometimes we can't help but tinker with perfection. So for our July Fourth celebration, we decided to take the season's finest treat and make it even finer. We created a DIY ice cream sandwich buffet perfect for any backyard barbecue event. And we quickly discovered the possibilities were boggling.
Start with the "bread" of the sandwiches. We're going to assume you don't want to bake your own cookies. That's fine, because there are all sorts of choices available at the grocer.
Don't hesitate to get creative. Graham crackers, slices of cake, even cinnamon buns or doughnuts can be pressed into service. Play around with different sizes, too. Small cookies can be used for ice cream sandwich "sliders."
And don't forget to dress your sandwiches. Smear toppings such as fudge, caramel or peanut sauce onto the cookies (much as you would when assembling a PB&J) before adding the ice cream.
Then there are the many choices of fillings -- ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, gelato, sherbet ...
We suggest serving them one of two ways. The easiest way is to soften the frozen treats slightly so they are easily scooped and spread on the "bread." To soften them, you can either leave them at room temperature for 10 or so minutes, or microwave them for 10 to 20 seconds.
Alternatively, select frozen treats packed in pint-sized cardboard tubs. Use a serrated knife to carefully slice each tub crosswise into four or five rounds, then arrange the rounds on a baking sheet. Keep the rounds frozen until ready to assemble. Just don't let the rounds sit out at room temperature too long while people are assembling their sandwiches; the ice cream will quickly soften.
We start you off with ideas for some creative combinations, but your best bet is to wander the grocery store and explore the options.
When it comes to enjoying the buffet, encourage your guests to get a little crazy.
Why sandwich just one variety of ice cream when you could combine two or more? Assure them that creating totally over-the-top treats is not just appropriate, but expected. Try sandwiching chocolate ice cream between two whoopie pies with layers of peanut sauce and marshmallow spread, for example.
Ice cream sandwich buffet
For the "bread":
Graham crackers
Pound cake, sliced and toasted
Chocolate wafer cookies
Oatmeal raisin cookies
Chocolate chip cookies
Molasses cookies
Sugar cookies
Whoopie pies
For the spreads:
Chocolate fudge sundae sauce
Caramel sauce
Butterscotch topping
Fruit jams, such as raspberry or strawberry
Marshmallow spread
Nutella
For the frozen fillings:
Ice cream
Sorbet
Frozen yogurt
Sherbet
Gelato
Shortcake sandwich
Spread 2 pieces of thinly sliced and toasted pound cake with strawberry jam, then fill with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.
Black and red
Sandwich raspberry sorbet between chocolate wafer cookies.
Creamsicle
Sandwich orange sherbet between vanilla sugar cookies. Add a smear of chocolate fudge sauce, if desired.
S'more
Spread marshmallow topping on 2 graham crackers, then fill with rocky road or chocolate ice cream.
Lemon spice
Drizzle a touch of butterscotch on a soft molasses cookie, then top with lemon sorbet or sherbet, then a second molasses cookie.
Story tags » FoodIndependence Day

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