Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

March 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm 78 comments


Despite the chilly breeze and overcast skies, I can’t help but see the promise of summer everywhere.

At Seastar Restaurant, I’ve been watching the glow of the sunset linger just a little longer each night, reflecting lilac and copper and gold across the downtown skyscrapers. Daffodils have sprung up beside every mailbox and lamppost. Cherry blossoms have burgeoned forth all across our neighborhoods, veiling the trees in the faintest blush-pink lace. Sometimes light breaks through the midafternoon clouds, diffusing through the classroom windows between spurts of rain, and I lean my head on my hand and dream of sunshine.

My urgency for summer began sometime in late January. Frost no longer edged the tips of our front lawn in the mornings the way it had all winter. One day I saw that the grass had grown thick and lush, the kind of grass that makes you think of summer camp and daisy chains and tie dyed tank tops. It was the kind of grass that makes you want to do cartwheels, just for that brief moment when your fingertips pass through that soft fringe of green.

It made me want to make ice cream.


It was still too cold to legitimately make a frozen dessert, so I waited all through January and February. And although earlier this week the sky dropped a few forlorn flakes of snow, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I wanted ice cream, real ice cream that didn’t skimp on the cream and positively melted on your spoon between leaving the freezer and reaching your tongue.

Besides the freedom and the yellow plastic sunglasses and the short-sleeved walks into the evening, what I am looking forward to most about summer is the fruit. Peaches bursting out of their soft skins, handfuls and handfuls of glossy cherries, the hollow sound when you make the first cut through a watermelon. But with nothing but citrus really in season, I tried to think of another flavor that would satisfy.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I have never been a vanilla fan. A steadfast chocoholic, I don’t think I ever bought vanilla ice cream or asked for white cake. It’s only been recently that I’ve begun to see vanilla as something special. I have a stash of Nielsen-Massey vanilla, beans and extracts that I only save for the most classic and important desserts where it will “really count,” and I thought vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to make the beans shine.


After two months of waiting, I couldn’t do it any longer. At 10 PM on a school night I turned on all the lights down the hallway to the kitchen and started to make the ice cream base. I picked a David Lebovitz recipe – there is nobody I trust more with ice cream – which was straightforward and simple enough. As I scraped the vanilla bean with my knife, the tiny seeds collecting like glittery black jewels, the smell of vanilla drifted into my clothes.

I didn’t waste a single seed, and the custard came together beautifully. Before putting it in the refrigerator to chill overnight, I tried a spoonful. Although the ice cream hadn’t been churned and was essentially soup, I was immediately floored. I had never had vanilla so intense, creamy and floral, somehow exotic. How could I have ever thought vanilla plain?

The next morning I was in the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of cereal when I decided I couldn’t wait until after school to finish. I poured the chilled ice cream custard into the ice cream maker to churn while I showered and got dressed. The custard had been good enough to drink, but after it was churned? It had the consistency of soft-serve, not yet firmed up, but it was so incredible. I even beckoned my friend C-, who I carpool with, into my house so that he could try a spoonful for himself before we rushed to first period.


Even though my favorite ice cream flavor has been basil since I first made it two summers ago, I need to tell you all that this is without a doubt the best ice cream I’ve ever made. It might even be the best ice cream I’ve ever tried at all.

It’s unbelievably thick and creamy, smooth as marble and speckled with constellations of vanilla bean seeds. It has the texture of frozen custard – somehow “ice cream” doesn’t convey how soft and rich and gorgeous this ice cream is. If that weren’t enough, the vanilla itself seems to fill the inside of your mouth like a perfume, not just in the ice cream but in the very air around it. This ice cream will convert a chocoholic into a person who dreams in vanilla.

Wanting to give you more than just ice cream, I also baked some raspberry cocoa cookies that I’ve made a few times now. They’re little, gone in two bites, chewy in the center and crisp-edged. Made with a half cup of jam, they taste like thin brownie-cookies topped with raspberries. Ever since the first time I made them, I knew they would make a good ice cream sandwich.


The sandwiches are delicious, but I have to admit, I prefer the ice cream purely as is. I can’t help it… I’m a vanilla person. :)

[On non-food related note, I feel the need to mention the new “(c) 17 and baking” text appearing on this week’s photos. I hate having to put watermarks on my photos. I think it’s ugly and distracting. I think food photography should be about food and the way food makes you feel, and the text seems so awkward. But my photos have been stolen and used without my permission twice in the last month, and I have reluctantly concluded that a watermark might reduce theft.

Photo stealers, this is disappointing for me. Boo on you.]



These cookies are really simple and really pretty good. I can’t be all glowy about them when there’s still ice cream in the freezer, but they are definitely delicious and open to a lot of variation (coffee, cinnamon, chili powder, anyone?) Plus, they don’t have butter or eggs, so I think they can easily be made vegan or gluten free.

After the 10 minute baking time, they won’t seem done at all, but if you let them cool they will firm up a lot. Otherwise, if you overbake them, they’ll still be delicious, just crunchy. I’d suggest you try baking a couple cookies to begin with to find the perfect baking time for you and your oven. If you end up with overly-crunchy cookies, store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread and the cookies will soften.

I feel like I’ve said everything there is to say about this ice cream. It is perfection.

Chewy Raspberry Cocoa Cookies
From an anonymous postcard seen on Postsecret
Makes 6 dozen 1.5″ cookies

1/2 cup raspberry jelly
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt, then stir in the jam, oil, and extracts. Flatten into walnut-sized balls on greased cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes.

Printer-Friendly Version – Chewy Raspberry Cocoa Cookies


The Most Incredible, Chocoholic-Converting Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Recipe from the ice cream genius David Lebovitz
Makes a quart of gorgeous ice cream

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan. (I waited until I saw the liquid steaming.) Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour.

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2 quart bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

In another bowl, stir the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk until warmed, then gradually pour some hot milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolks and milk back into the saucepan and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard that coats the back of the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Printer-Friendly Version – The Most Incredible, Chocoholic-Converting Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Entry filed under: Cookies, Frozen Desserts. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Sugar Cookies 17 and Baking Turns One

78 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cate  |  March 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    asldkjdd these look so goooood ELISSA YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS KILL ME :(

    • 2. Elissa  |  March 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Cate, where were you today in stats? I promised I’d bring you a cookie and I did, but you weren’t there! So I ate it.

  • 3. shannon  |  March 12, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    positively YUM! (:

  • 4. Elissa's Dad  |  March 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    All those years of disgusted looks when I enjoy vanilla ice cream are supposed to just melt away with one blog post? No way Missy….I am a gonna rub it in your face a bit first.

    Save some for when I get there!!! Maybe some bananas, chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream tomorrow…Hot fudge bana splits after a few bites of the ice cream alone?

    • 5. Elissa  |  March 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      Dad, this ice cream isn’t anything like the vanilla ice cream you get at the store. Not the same at all. So… doesn’t count :)

  • 6. Amelia  |  March 13, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Ooh, this looks so delicious! Our usual Trader Joe’s brand French vanilla seems so dull compared to your description! I’m pretty sure we have an ice-cream mixer sitting around somewhere getting dusty, I should try it :)

    And the cookies sound great, too! Just the kind of thing I’d like to snack on! Once again, you’ve got me hungry and racing to the kitchen, Elissa!

  • 7. musketnuss  |  March 13, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Too sad I don’t have an ice cream maker. But these cookies alone look so delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  • 8. Tanja  |  March 13, 2010 at 2:34 am

    It has been snowing here last week, which never happens in March (most of the time it doesn’t even snow in January!), so it’s a bit early to make ice cream, plus I don’t have a Kitchenaid (yet). I’m going to save the recipe just to try and make it when I actually buy a mixer with an ice cream maker! Everything you make looks so delicious.

    I have never been a vanilla person either and I could never understand why people would eat that ”ordinary” ice cream, when they could have chocolate instead!

  • 9. tess quizon  |  March 13, 2010 at 3:06 am

    I am not a Vanilla fan but the cookies…I can almost taste them. :-)
    Now am getting some……am sure not as delicious as yours but it will do. You made me smile and hungry today. Thanks Elissa.

  • 10. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  March 13, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Your sandwiches look great!!! I AM a huge vanilla fan, so I’m glad to see you’ve made the switch…perhaps more vanilla baking in the future??? Also, sorry to hear about photo stealers. Perhaps your watermark will deter them. If it makes you feel better I’d recognize your photos anywhere!!!

  • 11. Bittersweetbaker  |  March 13, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Thank you so much for switching to Flickr! I can see your pictures now, and they are so good that I can practically taste the ice cream.
    Just curious: what ice cream maker do you use? I’m thinking of asking for one for my birthday.

    • 12. Elissa  |  March 13, 2010 at 9:12 am

      Bittersweetbaker – Yay!! I’m switching to Flickr just for you. I figure that if you can’t see my photos there must be other people who can’t, so I’m in the process of moving every single photo on the blog. It might take me a while, but I’m determined to do it! I use a KitchenAid attachment: It’s not too expensive and it makes great ice cream!
      Jill, Julie, Cami, thanks for your comments… all three of them made me smile really big so thank you :)

  • 13. cupcakeswin=]  |  March 13, 2010 at 6:52 am


  • 14. Jill  |  March 13, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Hooray for ice cream season! I’ve been thinking that it’s about time to make some. Your photos are beautiful with or without the watermark.

  • 15. Julie  |  March 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

    You have inspired me to bake so much more and with a variety of ingredients! I love the satisfaction it brings, and I love trying new things in my recipes now. I think I have a perfect jelly to make these cookies with (It has little bits of raspberry in it). Yum!

    Thank you!

  • 16. Cami  |  March 13, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I just wanted to let you know that your blog is one of the reasons I bake. Three months ago I butchered pound cake, but last week I managed to improvise a batch of pumpkin scones. I blame your blog. Thank you so much! :D

  • 17. Megan  |  March 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

    HI, I just found your site yesterday and was thrilled! You share so many great recipes that actually seem usable. Your ice cream looks heavenly (too bad I don’t have a maker) but I think I’ll try the cookies later today. Thanks again!

  • 18. Caroline  |  March 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Oh my god, you have no idea how badly I want to eat one of those cookies now. I’m not sure if I’m convinced to give vanilla a go. I’m a die hard chocolate fan!

    It’s a shame you had to put watermarks on your pictures (although they are still beautiful shots). I think there might be some sort of block you can put on the blog so people can’t right-click and save your pictures. A few Tumblr blogs have it.

  • 19. Valérie  |  March 13, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Reading this post on a beautiful sunny day (winter has been short here in Montreal) has really made me smile. Summer does feel in the air, and it brings to mind so many wonderful images!

    I admit to not being a vanilla fan myself, but your enthusiasm for this ice cream has intrigued me… Besides, cocoa and raspberry is one of my favourite combinations!

  • 20. Eliana  |  March 13, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Love the cookies, love the ice cream, love it all!!!

  • 21. Anna Kristina  |  March 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Found you via the bloggies this year, and you are incredible! I wish I was blogging at your caliber when I was 17. The ice cream and cookies looked so good I just had to comment. And on the photo side, if you have your photos on Flickr (and it sounds like you’re working on that) you can change the settings there so people can’t download the full size versions (unless you give them specific permission), which could perhaps cut down on people swiping them as well. Keep up the good work!

    • 22. Elissa  |  March 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      Anna Kristina – Thanks for the tip, I went and changed it! Thanks also to everyone who has given me advice about preventing photo theft. You guys are my heroes!

  • 23. Alyssa  |  March 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Have you had much luck making ice cream Philadelphia-style–ie, without eggs/custard? We make ice cream in our lab, but we don’t have a stove top. Some have been quite good–Guiness Milk Chocolate, Durian, Cake Batter–but not all of them turn out. We try to adapt the “fancy” ones, but any tips or successes would be great! Love, love, love your blog.

    • 24. Elissa  |  March 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Alyssa – I have tried a few Philadelphia style ice creams and I have to admit I prefer the custard kind since I like a richer ice cream… I’m afraid I don’t have any specific tips for you since I don’t make them that often :(

      Tania – Kitchenaid! A little earlier in the comments I put down the link of the ice cream maker I use, and I love it.

  • 25. Tania  |  March 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    :( Elissa, I want an ice cream maker. What brand should I get?

    Don’t worry, the photos look wonderful even with the watermark ; I didn’t notice the first time through, until you mentioned it.

  • 26. Esther  |  March 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    wow, thanks for the recipe. yummmy! I think you are really good at writing. I really admire how much you bake and write about it. (I’m one year younger than you) I’m sorry that someone has been taking your pictures. I hope that one day I can also be able to make a successful blog, maybe when i have more time.

  • 27. Tisha  |  March 13, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    These sound wonderful. Do you think it will matter if I use raspberry jam instead of jelly in the cookies?

    • 28. Elissa  |  March 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

      Tisha – Should be fine :)

  • 29. Margarita  |  March 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Oh, Elissa, how wonderful!!!!!!!!! How thoroughly grateful I am for your blog. I can so enjoy your beautiful treasures through mental imagery. Your words and pictures are so vivid I can see myself licking the soft ice cream from the middle of the sweet, crispy and slightly chewy cookies on the outside. Oh, yummers. What a treat for my senses. I love the berries, anything berry, with that intoxicating vanilla ice cream…………..mmmmmmmmmmmm. Thanks again, your fan. <3

  • 30. Jenny  |  March 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I’ve always been a vanilla girl, but as you’ve discovered, vanilla isn’t just vanilla anymore. And I think it gets better and better with great accompaniments like your chocolate raspberry wafers – top notch, as always.

  • 31. Fatima  |  March 15, 2010 at 2:23 am

    It’s coming towards the end of summer here in South Africa but perhaps there might be time for me to make this just before the chill sets in!

    And I’m disappointed that you’ve moved your pics to flick because now I can’t see them off my work computer (flickr, along with facebook, is one of the sites which is automatically blocked during working hours)!

  • 32. Kathy Niemer  |  March 15, 2010 at 3:34 am

    If you ever get to Cincinnati, you will want to try Graeter’s ice cream. Their vanilla sounds very similar to what you’ve made. I agree with you about vanilla, it has to be the “real deal” for it to be worth having but then it’s a very good thing.

  • 33. Astral  |  March 15, 2010 at 6:21 am

    These look delicious x

  • 34. Ana  |  March 15, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Looks delicious…

  • 35. Eva  |  March 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Love this blog and the recipes here! And the photos are gorgeous, it’s so awful that there are people out there who decide to just take. Ugh.

    (One little aside: It’s David Lebovitz, not Levowitz — you had it right earlier in your post :)

    • 36. Elissa  |  March 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Eva – Can’t believe I misspelled it there! Fixed the weird one. :)

  • 37. Kasey  |  March 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Made the cookies! They are delicious!!!!

  • 38. Charles  |  March 15, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I really enjoy your writing, and have started looking forward to your new posts. I am sorry to hear about the copyright-infringers, that must certainly be frustrating.

  • 39. Alexa  |  March 16, 2010 at 1:48 am

    You are amazing! I adore reading your stories and feel that I can somewhat relate, being 17 years old and baking as well…your recipes and successes make me want to get to the kitchen ASAP! I’m really excited to try this ice cream recipe, homemade is always the best! Keep it up, this blog really is something special <3

  • 40. Heidi  |  March 16, 2010 at 6:44 am

    I am so making those cookies soon… Unfortunately here in Switzerland it snowed last weekend, and although it’s warming up very fast since, it’s still much too cold for ice-cream!

  • 41. Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets)  |  March 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    This is absolutely scrumptious! I’m craving this badly now- just before i hit the sack!

  • 42. Making my Mark  |  March 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    So scrumptious looking!

  • 43. Preston Mui  |  March 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Reading this post made me want some ice cream — but I know no other ice cream can measure up after I tasted yours. For this I forgive you for applying to Syracuse. It was that good.

  • 44. South Campus Bakery  |  March 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Just discovered your blog Elissa! Looks fabulous!!!

  • 45. Suze  |  March 17, 2010 at 7:41 am

    That looks so good! Love your site!
    Just FYI… to type the copyright symbol, just type Alt+0169. The “c” in parentheses doesn’t mean anything. I buy my Madagascar vanilla beans from topvanilla(dot com). They are plump, moist and very inexpensive. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • 46. Sue  |  March 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    It’s never too cold for ice cream! Those cookies look amazing and I’m amused at the fact that you got the recipe from a postsecret postcard!!!

  • 47. Patty  |  March 17, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    A simple and delicious treat, I really wish it was warm already so I could enjoy them properly! Thanks for posting, they look great!

  • 48. Tay  |  March 18, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I don’t like ice cream sandwiches, but I do like homemade vanilla ice cream and looking at your pictures is making me want to go home and make some. Thankfully, I’m out of milk. My family is already complaining that I’m making them fat with all of my baking and cooking…

  • 49. Maria  |  March 18, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Chocolate and raspberry, count me in!

  • 50. Ashley  |  March 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Oh man this is not a good thing for me to be looking at while I’m waiting for dinner to finish cooking!! Those little ice cream sandwiches look so perfect. I love that there’s jam actually in the cookie (versus on top or sandwiched between).

  • 51. Mayra Elisa B.  |  March 19, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I am so lucky to have found this blog. I’m on a learning mission to learn to bake. Reading through your posts has just added more inspiration. You have great taste and and talent! Looking forward to seeing what other tummy indulgences you will make next. =]

  • 52. Mayra Elisa B.  |  March 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Great job on the ice cream sandwiches! They would make any chocolate person become a vanilla person.

  • 53. Sarah  |  March 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Does it matter if you only use a light cream?- or would the recipe not work… also I looked up the kitchen aid and does it just attach to any kind of blender?

    • 54. Elissa  |  March 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Sarah – You could use light cream, but your ice cream wouldn’t be quite as rich, smooth, or creamy as if you used full-fat. Still delicious, I think! :) As for the KitchenAid, it doesn’t attach to a blender, it attaches to a KitchenAid mixer. Instead of the steel bowl, you use the ice cream maker, and use the stand mixer to churn the ice cream.

  • 55. sarah  |  March 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    sorry I didn’t mean blender, but stand mixer, so thats great!
    Thanks! : D

  • 56. Cynja  |  March 23, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Have you thought about implementing a flash format so people can’t just do a right-click-save? I’m a beginner with photography and I’m starting to think about how I want to keep my images safe from people. WordPress has a lot of plugins with galleries/lightbox .

    • 57. Elissa  |  March 23, 2010 at 7:07 pm

      Cynja – I’ve thought about it and I’m still deliberating. There are so many ways for people to get your images besides right click save… it seems like disabling the right click save would only annoy my actual readers and temporarily slow down actual thieves. :( It’s so hard to figure out.

  • 58. KB  |  March 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I just discovered your food blog and love it! You are so incredibly driven and articulate (in general, but especially for your age). I have a very clear memory of completely failing at cooking a pot of spaghetti when I was 17, haha. However, that’s not what I wanted to comment about…

    …I wanted to say it was genius to try that Post Secret recipe. I check the Post Secret site every Sunday and I remember reading that exact post. I didn’t even consider trying the recipe, though. These cookies look amazing, so I’m going to have to now. Thanks for posting it!

  • 59. Ella  |  April 4, 2010 at 3:37 am

    I just had a major craving to bake, so I did. Of course, it’s 10:30pm here in New Zealand, and it’s Easter so no stores are open! I ended up substituting the canola oil for unsalted butter, the raspberry jelly (we call it jam) for boysenberry, the plain flour for high grade flour, and they still turned out great! Thanks so much for your gorgeous recipes!



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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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