I just bought a car with seat heaters.
I don’t know. It’s the middle of summer and I found myself up again the ‘you need to buy a car now’ wall and so I’m working it out, flexing my adult muscles, and troubling every car salesman deeply concerned that I’m approaching car buying without a husband by my side. It’s ok… I bought a car with seat heaters. No one talked me into it… but my future self who loves a toasty ass reminded me to get the damn seat heaters.
This is the opposite of seat-heater season. These are the days we’re sweating behind the knees and searching for the nearest pool. It’s ice cream season and this week we’re making sweet treats to fill our freezer. First: salty, sweet, brownie-rich ice cream sandwiches thanks to Food52 and their fine food minds.
Thanks for letting me get that car thing off my chest. Let’s get to important, seasonally appropriate things like ice cream.
One of life’s great joys (besides seat heaters)… and stay with me because this is rather specific, is a frozen + under-done brownie. They’re fudgey, just slightly chewy, cold, densely chocolatey and on the low… as good as a brownie gets (just after warm from the oven).
That brownie, chilled and perfect, is sandwiched between two salty crackers along with a no-churn ice cream made from sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream. We’re coming strong with our summer dessert game thanks to the Food52’s Ice Cream & Friends.
And! No ice cream maker required. Though I am making Food52’s Olive Oil Gelato this week so if you have an ice cream maker… go ahead and pop that bowl in the freezer because, well… we didn’t come here to get our hair did.
We’ll start by making brownies! Here’s all we’ll need.
- sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate, and butter for the brownies
- cream and condensed milk, rum and vanilla for the ice cream
- salted crackers for sandwiching
Start by melting chocolate chips and butter in a bowl. The microwave is an easier melting place than a double-boiler… but do what feels easy for you.
To the melted chocolate mixture add sugars, eggs, and espresso powder. Whisk until glossy.
Flour and cocoa powder next, creating a simple and straight-up brownie batter.
Here’s where things get interesting because we’re about to put crackers in the oven with brownies.
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment… greased well, you know the drill.
Add the brownie batter and, while the batter is still batter and not yet brownies… top with whole saltine crackers (cutting a few to fit the edges if necessary.
Throw (gently) the same amount of crackers onto a baking sheet and bake both the cracker-topped brownies and the plain crackers in the oven until the brownies are just cooked through and the crackers are toasted golden.
This is where things get a little flip-floppy.
Once the brownie-cracker brownies come out of the oven, they’ll cool slightly and then freeze until they firm enough to fuss with… about 30 minutes or so. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the brownie-cracker from the pan and flip it so the cracker side of the brownie is on the bottom of the pan. Brownie facing up, and back to the freezer we go!
Let’s talk about how easy the ice cream is! Sweetened condensed milk is whisked with vanilla extract and rum then folded into whipped cream. What an easy thing to talk ourselves into, right!?
The fluffy ice cream mixture is poured over the pan of brownies and topped with the remaining toasted crackers.
Would you look at that! All it needs now is a night in the freezer!
Salty, sweet, chocolate, vanilla ice cream squares. Wrap them individually to keep the crackers crisp in the freezer or call your friends because you’ve got freezer treats!
- 50 to 60 saltine crackers
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso beans
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
No Churn Ice Cream
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Layer the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan with crackers. Count how many you have and multiply by 2. Once you figure out how many crackers you need, brush the crackers on both sides with the melted butter.
- To make the brownies, place racks in the middle and lower positions of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving extra parchment hanging over the sides. Have an extra baking sheet ready too.
- In a big bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each increment until fully melted. Whisk in both sugars, the eggs, ground espresso, and vanilla until smooth and slightly fluffy. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Fold the ingredients together with a spatula or whisk until smooth.
- Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange half of the crackers on top of the batter. If a whole cracker doesn’t fit at the edge, just cut a cracker with a sharp knife to fit. Once you have completely covered the brownie batter with crackers, scatter the rest of the crackers on the baking sheet.
- Place the brownie-cracker on the oven’s middle rack and the crackers on the lower rack. Bake until the brownie-cracker is slightly underdone, about 25 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted into the center should come out moist with wet crumbs. Take it out of the oven and take the crackers on the baking sheet as well.
- Let the brownie-cracker cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the pan to the freezer to cool for 30 minutes. The brownie-cracker should be completely cool before you continue. (This will keep, tightly wrapped in plastic in the freezer for up to 1 week.)
- Transfer the brownie-cracker to a work surface. Line the pan with another piece of parchment. Invert the brownie-cracker and remove the first layer of parchment. Place back in the pan, cracker layer facing down. Take note of where the uneven crackers are so you can match that side on top. Return to the freezer while you make the ice cream.
- To make the ice cream, in a small bowl combine the condensed milk, vanilla, and rum.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (a handheld electric mixer will also work), whisk the heavy cream on medium high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream until just combined.
- Pour the ice cream on top of the brownie cracker and smoothe the top with a spoon. Arrange the remaining crackers on top, making sure to arrange them so they match the bottom layer for easy cutting. Return the pan to the freezer to harden for at least 8 hours, though overnight is best.
- When ready to slice, cut between the crackers to form little sandwiches. Wrap each mini sandwich with plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks. Or serve to many and enjoy with sticky fingers.
Photos by the incomparable Jon Melendez.