The original idea for whoopie pie ice cream entered my overheated brain last summer, but in the midst of feverish book testing and unmanageable deadlines, it just had to chill out for a while until I could fully devote my attention to it. While it waited for me to catch up, the concept morphed into something even better than my initial instinct to fold chunks of whoopie pie cake and swirl marshmallow fluff into vanilla ice cream.
If you want a simpler version of this recipe, you can still go forth and make it that way, creating a cookies and cream-style pint shot through with cake and marshmallow (though I suggest halving the cake recipe or doubling the ice cream recipe if you choose this method, since you’ll end up with far more whoopie pie domes than needed.)
But I think these frozen whoopie pie sandwiches are far more visually appealing and nostalgia-inducing than a bowl of ice cream could ever be, and I’m glad I didn’t jump on the idea right away.
Instead of a tall, unwieldy ice cream whoopie pie that makes you unhinge your jaw to take a full bite, these whoopies bake up round and flat. They have the same sticky, soft texture as the white paper-wrapped ice cream sandwiches we all grew up with, a cake so soft that your teeth truly do sink into it, with cocoa-infused crumbs sticking to your fingers to be scraped off after the sandwich has disappeared. The filling merges the best of both worlds—whipped marshmallow and cold vanilla ice cream—in one soft, fluffy package.
(By the way, Pennsylvania and Maine continue to bicker over which state truly has the right to claim the whoopie pie as its native dessert—er, “treat,” as they’re now referring to the cake confection. As a gob-eater from Johnstown and someone who has strong memories of the Pennsylvania Dutch cakes at bake sales and farmer’s markets, I tend to side with the Pennsylvania end of that argument, but I would never deny anyone the right to eat and enjoy a whoopie pie.)
Dare I say these adorably round ice cream sandwiches are even better than the version in Classic Snacks Made from Scratch? I’ll let you be the judge.
Whoopie Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: about 1 dozen filled sandwiches
Special Equipment: Silpat liners (recommended), 1 3/4 inch spring-loaded ice cream scoop, 2-inch round cookie cutter
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 2/3 cups (10 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (4 oz.) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup (7 1/2 oz.) packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
Make the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line two large baking sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper.
Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa powder in a small bowl until a thick paste form and no lumps of cocoa powder remain. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until fluffy and pale beige. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla, mixing until combined. Add the cocoa paste and mix until fully incorporated.
Add a third of the flour, mixing just until incorporated, then add half the buttermilk. Scrape the bowl as needed and repeat with a third more flour, then the remaining buttermilk, and finally the last bit of flour.
Scoop rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets: I use my 1 3/4-inch diameter spring-loaded ice cream scoop for consistency in shape and size, but if you don’t have one, you can substitute with heaping tablespoons of batter. The cakes will puff and expand when baked, so stagger each scoop slightly on the baking sheet to leave about 1 1/2 inches between them.
Bake until the cakes are domed and cooked through with a matte finish, about 10 minutes. Carefully transfer each soft cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
Let the cookie sheets cool to the touch before scooping more batter onto them (and using fresh parchment paper or wiping off the Silpat liners as needed); if you scoop batter onto piping-hot cookie sheets, the batter will “melt” and puddle on contact, and you’ll end up with overly large and oddly shaped cakes.
Make the filling:
Prepare the ice cream base according to recipe instructions and churn in an ice cream maker.
While the ice cream is churning and freezing, make the marshmallow fluff according to recipe instructions.
When the ice cream has frozen to soft serve consistency, scrape it onto a small rimmed baking sheet (a quarter sheet pan, about 9×12 inches) and use a silicone spatula to fold and swirl the marshmallow fluff into the ice cream. It’s ok if there are pockets of fluff interspersed throughout.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden completely.
Cut rounds of ice cream with a 2-inch round cookie cutter and lift them off the baking sheet with a thin spatula. Place between two cake rounds and serve immediately or keep frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.