Mint chocolate ice cream sandwiches

By | August 23, 2012

This recipe and story first appeared in the July 30, 2012 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my biweekly cooking column in Binah magazine.

I was 16 when I met Sharona, the girl who didn’t eat chocolate.

It wasn’t an allergy or even just a preference that kept her from the treats so many won’t live without. It was something less conventional.

Sharona avoided chocolate because she wanted a personal, constant reminder of the churban. Even during the summer months, when the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av loom ahead, it can be hard to feel the loss of the Beit HaMikdash. How much truer that is during the rest of the year, when the distractions of everyday life keep your mind busy, always busy, always thinking and turning and whirling…

And so Sharona decided to stay away from chocolate, knowing that each time she missed a piece of chocolate cake or a bite of her favorite chocolate bar, she’d be reminded of another, more important thing that was missing. We have other reminders, of course: the broken glass under the chupah, the section of a wall left unfinished in a home. But she wanted something extra — something extra personal.

At first, I thought she was crazy.

Sure, we should all remember the churban, but how far did a person have to take it? Slowly, though, the idea grew on me –- so much that I decided to try something similar.

The summer I met Sharona was the summer I promised myself that I would one day settle in Israel permanently. But I knew that before this could happen, I would finish high school and then college in America. I also recognized that I would probably start dating in that time, and I worried that in the course of everything, I would lose some of my resolve and end up living in chutz l’aretz.

So I needed a reminder. A personal, constant reminder of my dream and intense desire to live in Israel. I didn’t choose chocolate; it seemed too pervasive. Chocolate milk, chocolate chips, chocolate frosting…it was everywhere. But I chose something else, something I loved but felt was a realistic target.

I chose ice cream.

And that was that: No more ice cream in chutz l’aretz. Each time I missed having a scoop of my favorite flavor, I was reminded of what I missed even more: being in the one place I truly belong.

I was sure that my family would think I was crazy.

Who gives up ice cream when nothing — nothing halachic, nothing medical — demands it? I reassured my parents that I knew nothing bad would happen if I “broke” this rule, and that actual Torah obligations would and should always come first. But this was still important to me. I was determined to stick to it.

And I did, for six years, right up to the day I boarded my one-way flight to Ben Gurion. Granted, those years included my ten months in seminary –- but still, just over five years is a long time to go without ice cream.

It was only natural that I bought myself a cone in the airport, right after I landed in Tel Aviv and collected my baggage. It was overpriced and generic-tasting, but it thrilled me. That ice cream cone was a symbol that I had achieved my dream –- and that I had kept more than one promise to myself along the way.

During the years without ice cream, questions often arose about what constituted ice cream (and believe it or not, what constituted being in Israel).

Regular ice cream, soft-serve, and frozen yogurt were all off-limits. Ices, popsicles, and pareve “ice cream” pies made of Rich’s Whip and pudding mix were not. When it came to location, my brothers tried to convince me that eating ice cream in the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. was just like eating it in Yerushalayim.

I didn’t go for that one.

It’s been two-and-a-half years since that memorable ice cream cone in the airport, and many have since followed. We don’t keep ice cream in the house regularly, but when I do buy it (or even better, make it), it’s a happy reminder of a dream fulfilled –- not just through one international flight, but through the thousands of moments that make up every day of our lives here.

Unfortunately, Sharona –- if she’s still holding her vigil –- still has reason to avoid chocolate. It’s a good reminder not just for her, but for all of us, that something important is missing, and that it is important enough to warrant personal reminders, whatever those may be.

Ice cream may not be as pervasive as chocolate, but there are still lots of ways to enjoy it –- in a cup, on a cone, on a stick, as a cake, or my favorite: scooped on top of a thick Israeli iced coffee. Another fun presentation is the timeless ice cream sandwich.

Not just any cookie can be used for an ice cream sandwich. It has to stay soft even when frozen and crumble easily when bitten into (otherwise the ice cream center will squeeze out as you struggle to get a bite). These sandwiches use chocolate shortbread cookies bumped up with mint, and their texture and sweetness are just right for this summertime dessert.

So glad I’m eating ice cream again.

One year ago: Curried eggplant & chickpeas


Alison @ Alibabka on August 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm.

Adorable and beautiful!


Hadassa Haller on August 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm.

Tali, A) You make everything sound and look delicious B) I love the stories!!! So inspirational. Thanks!


Tali Simon on August 24, 2012 at 10:16 am.

I sometimes wonder whether my Binah articles are too heavy (or just too long) for the blog. Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it!


Yiska Ben Avraham on August 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm.

OK, I can’t even comment on the food part yet cause I just gained a new level of respect for you with the ice cream thing.


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