Taste Test: Ice cream sandwiches


Ice cream sandwich taste test winner from Cork Market: Peanut Butter cookie and Banana and Caramel ice cream sandwich. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

We’re about a month shy of National Ice Cream Sandwich Day but right up against the belly of our nation’s birthday — not to mention it’s high season for locally made frozen treats. So we figured a taste test was in order.

We rounded up 17 samples from bakeries, grocery stores, specialty shops and a food truck. This was a blind tasting; judges rated cookies and ice cream separately (on a scale of 1 to 5) and gave an overall score.

The winner — from the executive chef for Cork Wine Bar and Restaurant and its nearby Cork Market — made us swoon. Kristin Hutter swirls a luscious house-made caramel sauce into a subtle, creamy house-made banana ice cream that’s sandwiched between outstanding house-made peanut butter cookies.

“I get to taste flavors she comes up with, so I have the best job,” says co-owner Diane Gross. Cork’s ice cream sandwiches are a summer-only dessert, and the winning ’wich has been offered since the summer of 2011.

Bonnie S. Benwick

If you’re an ice cream novice, if you’re in need of a refresher course or if you like to freestyle in the recipe department, this might be the help you’ve been waiting for: base recipes, current standards for various frozen desserts and tips for serving and storing.

Here are the contestants, in order of ranking, with some of the judges’ comments.

Top 5

Banana Caramel Ice Cream/Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cork Market and Tasting Room, 1805 14th St. NW, 202-265-2674

$4 each

A chorus of flavors; delicious homemade taste; the cookie is actually crunchy. OMG!

Ginger Snapwich With Lemon Ice Cream

Bakeshop, 1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington, 571-970-6460

$5 each

Stellar cookie — like a chewy molasses — and very good ice cream, but a not super-interesting flavor.

Ginger Rosemary Ice Cream Sandwich by CreamCycle

Available at Bean & Bite, 1152 15th St. NW, 202-296-3078; Smucker Farms, 2118 14th St. NW, 202-986-7332

$5 each

Lovely, subtle flavor in the ice cream. Wish the cookie had been baked a bit more.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich with Vanilla Ice Cream

Captain Cookie & the Milkman food truck, various locations in the District (weekdays), 202-556-3396

$4 each

Cookie consistency was great; ice cream was creamy but too melty.

Saffron and Rosewater Ice Cream Sandwich

Meat in a Box, 312 S. Washington St., Falls Church, 703-533-9070

$3.99 each

Crisp, cracker-type cookie made it tough to eat as a sandwich. The ice cream’s flavoring was interesting, but a bit heavy on the rosewater.

Good to middling

Flying Saucer (chocolate cookie with vanilla ice cream)

Carvel, various locations

$1.99 each

Creamy ice cream; the cookie stayed crunchy.

Ciao Bella Key Lime Graham Gelato Squares

Whole Foods Markets, various locations

About $1.30 each

Great tang to the ice cream, but the cookie is blah.

Klondike Mrs. Fields Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Widely available

About $1 each (sold in a four-pack)

Ice cream reminiscent of soft-serve or marshmallow cream. Cookie has stale-freezer taste.

Skinny Cow Chocolate Peanut Butter Low Fat Ice Cream Sandwiches

Widely available

About 75 cents each (sold in a six-pack)

Decent hit of peanut butter. The cookie was too soft.

Trader Joe’s Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

Trader Joe’s, various locations

About $1 each (sold in a four-pack)

Way too sweet and artificial-tasting; lots of chips.

Lucerne Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Safeway, various locations

30 cents each (sold in a 12-pack)

Breath-minty ice cream, gummy cookie.

600-Lb. Gorillas Premium Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, Vanilla Bean (tie)

BJ’s Wholesale Club, various locations

83 cents each (sold in a 12-pack)

Reminds me of summer at the pool; good hit of toffee.

Imagine Almond Dream Lil’ Dreamers Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Sandwiches (tie)

Widely available

About 50 cents each (sold in an eight-pack)

Tasted freezerish; no richness or depth of flavor in the sandwich or ice cream.

So Delicious Dairy Free Vanilla Minis

Widely available

About 57 cents each (sold in an eight-pack)

Cookie was gooey, the ice cream too thin.

Not impressive

Tofutti Cuties Vanilla Sandwiches (tie)

Widely available

About 44 cents each (sold in an eight-pack)

It’s like Cool Whip on a cookie.

Whole Treat Organic Ice Cream Sandwiches (tie)

Whole Foods Markets, various locations

83 cents each (sold in an eight-pack)

Flabby cookie, bland ice cream.

Julie’s Organic Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Widely available at health food stores

About $1 each (sold in a six-pack)

Sticks to your teeth; bad, sad.

Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew ... Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes: washingtonpost.com/recipes.
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