In recent years, we've seen ice cream sandwiches made with plenty more than just cookies. Whoopie pies, brioche, doughnuts—take your pick.
But most are lacking in what that classic ice cream sandwich delivers so well: elegance. Francois Payard Patisserie to the rescue with their macaron ice cream sandwiches. Payard has been doling out these little rectangles for three summers now, but from the looks of it they've gotten a makeover for summer 2013: instead of blocky layers of their housemade ice cream and sorbet, they're now swirled together to give the ice cream sandwich a prettier, marbled effect.
They come in four flavors for $5 a pop: raspberry-pistachio, coconut-mango, chocolate on chocolate with cocoa nibs, and the newest addition, strawberry cheesecake. In all four, the macaron shells lose some of their characteristic chewiness, but not all of it; they're deserving macarons all on their own, and stay that way when frozen.
The Raspberry-Pistachio is the real crown jewel of the bunch. The boldest element is the bright-tasting raspberry sorbet studded with real fruit bits, which is folded into their creamy pistachio ice cream and then sandwiched between the shells of a subtle pistachio macaron. The tartness of the sorbet pairs with the mild nuttiness of the pistachio ice cream to keep it from becoming too sweet.
The tropical and summery Coconut-Mango is also well done. It balances not-too-sweet coconut ice cream against tart, full-flavored mango sorbet, and is refreshing enough to keep this week's heat at bay. Our one complaint: the sorbet-ice cream distribution isn't always even, and ours was sorely lacking in mango.
A little less successful is the Chocolate on Chocolate, which is also refreshingly not-too-sweet but also a little dull on the palate. Cocoa nibs add to the strong roasted flavor of the sandwich, but the ice cream is so not-sweet, so roasty-toasty, that it won't satisfy everyone's chocolate fix.
Strawberry Cheesecake is also a little off-balance: the strawberry sorbet is as sweet as candy and the cream cheese ice cream is a little too salty to please. While it's a shame that the subtleness of the macaron's gets lost in the salt and sweet overload, the upside it that this is probably the best choice for the ice cream sandwich's original audience: kids.