Failure sometimes results in some of our greatest successes. This recipe, for example, was supposed to be a birthday cake. My parents were in town to celebrate their 60th birthdays, and we wanted to create a delicious, special cake in their honor. I had decided to go out on a limb and try a raw cake, something like this, with a frosting made only of bananas, cocoa powder and honey. It was a bit of a risk, and, like any risk, had the distinct possibility of failure. When the banana frosting came out as strange-tasting banana goo, I was crushed.
Luckily, Alex saved the day with his suggestion to turn the cakes into an ice cream sandwich. It’s basically a play on this raw brownie, one of our favorite desserts. There are a lot of nice things about these sandwiches — they’re no bake, which makes them easy to assemble, they’re gluten-free, which makes them versatile for serving to those with allergies, and if you try them with our coconut milk ice cream (mint or chocolate), they’re also dairy-free and naturally sweet, if you’re looking for those things. But above all, they are truly delicious, with the slightly gooey texture of the “real” ice cream sandwiches. They were a huge hit, and a great finale to the birthday dinner.
We had to fight through failure just as hard on the photos, endlessly trying to set up a shot we had in our minds but weren’t quite sure how to capture. We finally found what we were looking for, though you’ll notice it was getting a bit melty towards the end.
We thought these might be a nice idea for a Memorial Day treat, with that holiday quickly approaching. And, they’re a nice lesson in failure – while we only share the recipes and photos that turn out here, there are hundreds of failures behind the successes! (Like this recipe we tried 10 times before we got it right.)
- 2 cups walnuts
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 8 medjool dates
- 2 pinches salt
- Vanilla ice cream (purchased or homemade – about 1 cup; for dairy-free / vegan, try our coconut milk ice cream, with or without the mint flavor, but make sure to freeze for several hours until hard prior to assembly of the sandwiches)
- In the bowl of a food processor, process 2 cups walnuts, ½ cup cocoa powder, and 2 pinches kosher salt.
- Remove the pits from 8 medjool dates. Turn on the processor and add each date to the bowl until rough crumbles form.
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Pour out the crumbles onto the wax paper, and press them together into a thin layer, about ¼ inch thick. Cut into 8 circles with a circular biscuit cutter, about 2½ inches in diameter (you can use the “scraps” after cutting a few circles and press them together again to form enough circles). Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour until firm.
- Remove the sheet from the freezer and spread vanilla ice cream onto 4 cookies, using your fingers or a spoon to shape it (it will be cold!). Top with the remaining cookies and freeze again until ready to enjoy.