Whatever the combination—ice cream with cookies, gelato with brioche, sherbet with donuts—one thing is clear: Ice
cream sandwiches have never been cooler.
"Portable, robust and indulgent, ice cream sandwiches are well-suited to capitalize on the snacking trend," says Alex Beckett, global food and drink analyst at market researcher Mintel.
“The bakery sector has been a rich source of innovation inspiration for ice cream companies. Not only for textured pieces in or on top of the ice cream, but also as the carb element of the sandwich.”
—Alex Becket, global food and drink analyst, Mintel
Because you can’t make a sandwich without "bread," bakeries are perfectly posed to exploit the ice cream sandwich surge—and claim a chunk of the $4.4 billion frozen novelties market, which boasts profit margins of nearly 50 percent.
"The bakery sector has been a rich source of innovation inspiration for ice cream companies. Not only for textured pieces in or on top of the ice cream—like brownie chunks, cake pieces and cookie crumbles—but also as the carb element of the sandwich," says Beckett.
Beyond combining nostalgia with indulgence, bakeries should stick to a few best practices, says Claudia Sidoti, a food consultant and recipe developer who advises Sweetery, a New York City-based dessert truck.
"Ice cream sandwiches are pretty simple, so it’s all about the ingredients," Sidoti says. At its three Chicago stores, Snow Dragon Shavery & Yogurt serves ice cream sandwiches made with French macarons in flavors like green tea and cookies and cream.
Texture is Paramount
"If the cookie is too hard and the ice cream is too cold, it’s hard to eat. You have to find the right texture cookie or cake and the right texture and temperature ice cream," Sidoti says. Preparing the sandwiches to order gives bakeries more control over temperature and allows guests to create custom treats.
Creativity is King
"If you’re a little creative and like experimenting, the sky’s the limit," says Sidoti, citing the example of savory ice cream sandwiches made with crackers instead of cookies. In 2014, for instance, a pop-up ice cream parlor in London served a savory sandwich made with blue cheese ice cream and cream crackers.
Bakeries serving made-to-order ice cream sandwiches may want to invest in an ice cream freezer. Another option is wrapping pre-made sandwiches in plastic and storing them in a conventional freezer.