Personal Space

Ice cream cups from the ice box at Yamazaki Bakery

I lived in a huge apartment complex in Tokyo when I was a young girl. Our apartment was on the 9th floor, and the ground floor of the building was a market with a small bakery right next to the elevator hall.

In summer, after the supper time, I would be given a few hundred yens to go downstairs and buy four little ice cream cups from the bakery. They were packed in tiny paper cups with cardboard lids, and came with small flat wooden spatulas.

Now that I think about it, my little ice cream runs probably happened on days my mom got paid for her part-time teaching job. (She didn’t go back to work full-time and be fully corporate until after I started the junior high.)

(In winter, I would make a run for steamed Chinese buns to the same bakery.)

Nothing comes in small personal-size cups in the US. So more than a few decades later, I make my own ice cream and make it into personal-sized ice cream cookies. They keep us (mostly me) from overeating, and keep kids from dirtying every single ice cream scoop in the house (and every inch of the kitchen counter top along the way) just to produce a serving of afternoon ice cream.

My little ice cream sandwiches always bring back memories of those elevators, and then the small, cramped bakery where all of my food-related fantasies could be fulfilled if only I had enough money to buy the entire store. I am pretty sure I wrote “I want to work at Yamazaki Bakery when I grow up” in my kindergarten year book.

At any rate, here is how I make my ice cream sandwiches.

Make ice cream: (1) Cook (while constantly stirring) 1 cup half-and-half, 2/3 cup sugar and 3 eggs until thick; (2) after cooled, add 1 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; then throw it in an ice cream maker.

Make sandwiches: The ice cream maker makes really soft ice cream. It’s too soft and too messy for making sandwiches. So I put it in the freezer until almost too hard to handle, then sandwich it with the original Chips-Ahoy cookies.

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