In our Taste Test series, BA editors conduct blind comparisons to discover the best supermarket staples (like vanilla ice cream or frozen pizza). Today, which ice cream sandwich is the most satisfying?
Let’s get one thing straight: A chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich is not—and I will say it again, not—any old ice cream sandwich. In the US there are two genres of ice cream sandwiches competing for your love. There are those which are essentially rectangles of ice cream caught between cakey, often mushy chocolate cookies. But in the test kitchen we prefer the other kind: vanilla ice cream layered between two chewy chocolate chip cookies. These nostalgic chocolate-chip-laden treats are a whole other, wildly superior ballgame. For decades now they have become a beloved summertime tradition, so finding the most delicious option is crucial.
As usual, in a competitive taste test like this, these ice cream sandwiches have a lot of expectations to live up to. First, the cookies on the top and bottom must be soft—otherwise, as the ice cream melts, each bite pushes it out the sides, making it impossible to eat. Those cookies should be delicious enough to stand on their own—we’re looking for that toasty, sweet, soul-affirming flavor we know and love from homemade cookies. They should also have a good balance of richness and salt to bolster the sweetness in the ice cream. Lastly, the ice cream should have a custardy texture, not too much air whipped in (a common tactic to stretch ice cream and boost profits), and a confident splash of vanilla. It’s a tall order, but when all those elements come together, a cookie ice cream sandwich is a bite of summer magic.
To find the absolute best one out there, we blind-tested six of the most commonly found chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches for texture, chew, and all around deliciousness. The competition was fierce, and the tasting debates got heated. Some tasters swore they’d recognize the Chipwich brand by taste, only to be devastatingly incorrect upon final reveal. Others were divided on how sweet the cookie should really be. And to weigh in on each ingredient list, we called upon ice cream sandwich expert and food editor Shilpa Uskokovic. Read on to discover our favorite.
Somehow Spicy: Nestlé Toll House Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich
The ingredients: Chocolate chip cookies (enriched bleached wheat flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid], sugar, chocolate chips [sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, natural flavor], margarine [canola oil, water, modified palm and palm kernel oils, salt, monoglycerides, sodium benzoate, citric acid, annatto color, turmeric color, natural flavor, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d3], corn syrup, molasses, natural flavor, eggs, baking soda, salt, ammonium bicarbonate, salt), dairy product solids, skim milk, sugar, corn syrup, cream, coconut oil, maltodextrin, propylene glycol monostearate, cellulose gel, guar gum, monoglycerides, carob bean gum, cellulose gum, natural flavor.
Shilpa, who developed her own chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich recipe for Bon Appetit, remarked “There are so many gums and stabilizers.” That could lead to ice cream that’s gummy or fluffy, and barely tastes like dairy. “The extra water content,” she says, “may have made for a cakier cookie.” That margarine, with its citric acid and vaguely titled “natural flavors” could be the key to the strangely insistent cinnamon flavors that tasters reported.