One dollar and fifty cents doesn’t buy much anymore these days, but in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, just off-campus from UCLA, a buck-fitty will get you a most wonderfully decadent classic treat: a scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two freshly-baked cookies at a place called Diddy Riese. The perpetual line out the door is tell-tale. There’s either something really good or something really cheap – in this case it’s both. It’s the original dessert sandwich, and I’m making a panini version to file in my Panini Happy Classics vault. Want to skip ahead? Click here for the final recipe.
Cookies & Ice Cream Panini – Attempt #1
- Bread: Chocolate chip cookies
- Meat: None…unless ice cream counts as protein!
- Cheese: None
- Condiments: None
- “Goodies”: Rainbow sprinkles
THE INSPIRATION: My sister, Julie, and I had our first opportunity to bake chocolate chip cookies on our own during a summer school cooking class – I was 12 and she was 9. We were supposed to bake 2 dozen cookies at our little kitchen station. Having observed our mother bake countless batches at home (Mom attempted to crack the Mrs. Fields recipe!), we decided to switch things up a little and make 6 ENORMOUS cookies instead. We piled 6 massive mounds of dough onto our cookie sheets and loaded them into the oven, with cheshire grins on our
faces. It’ll come as no surprise that we wound up with 6 enormous MESSES, with burnt edges and raw centers. To this day, I still don’t understand why the teacher got so mad at us – we may not have yielded any cookies but we learned a lasting lesson about adjusting the oven temperature!
THE PREPARATION: I’ll admit I embarked on this one on a whim. I hoped it would be feasible to grill cookies, but I wasn’t willing to risk the time it would take to mix up a whole batch of cookie dough from scratch on this chance this descended into a disaster. So I cheated and bought a tub of the store-bought refrigerated dough – a brand called Tom’s, which I’d never heard of before, that was re-sealable so I could just make a few at a time.
I heated up the grill to about 325 degrees, as instructed by Tom’s, and put four of the cold little discs onto the grates – left a lot of space in between, not knowing if these would spread out like pancakes. I closed the lid, pressing down until the top grates appeared to be making contact with the tops of the cookies. I didn’t want to press them too hard, but I did want to get the heat to distribute as evenly as possible.
The package said to bake the cookies for 15-16 minutes, these guys were done after about 8 minutes. When I lifted up the lid, my initial impression of the way the cookies looked wasn’t great. I’d hoped to see evenly grilled little rounds, but (I surmised) due to the way that cookies spread from the center out, the centers were taller and therefore only the centers received direct grill contact. However, I did not dispair! I flipped the cookies over and there was the golden, evenly grilled look I was hoping for. This panini world is an unpredictable one at times – a world where bottoms can turn into tops!
THE CONSTRUCTION: I wanted to get the ice cream inside ASAP while the cookies were still warm. I cracked open a brand new container of Dreyer’s Slow-Churned vanilla, scooped out a couple of small scoops, and pressed down gently so as not to break the cookies. As a final step, I thought I’d add a little confectionary pizzazz – rainbow sprinkles! All of a sudden, I felt like an 8-year-old kid having just been handed a big cone at Baskin-Robbins, all anxious to dive in. And so I did.
THE RESULTS: Oh yeah! Nothing beats warm cookies and ice cream – the folks at Diddy Riese are geniuses. And it was so quick and easy. I don’t feel one iota of guilt over not having made my own cookie dough. The less time I spend prepping these sandwiches, the more time I have to eat them! Oh, and…uh…share them too