Photograph by Drew Podo
When Miller Union opened for lunch in April of 2010, chef Steven Satterfield only wanted one dessert on the menu, something quick and easy but quintessentially American. He worked with Lauren Raymond, then the pastry chef, to develop what would become one of the restaurant’s most popular items: an ice cream sandwich.
Raymond originally started with a sheet of chocolate cookies cut in half and filled with homemade ice cream before cutting them to size. She later streamlined the process by making two thin cookies and pre-cutting them before assembling the sandwiches. The trick, she discovered, to keeping the cookie pliable and not solid as a rock was to slightly underbake the cookie before assembly. “If it were a crispy cookie and you put it in the freezer it would get even harder,” Satterfield says. “But it’s the perfect toothsome bite. You can bite right through it without any difficulty.”
In 2011 Pamela Moxley took over as pastry chef, and over five years she’s created hundreds of new flavors. “I try not to read the description because I think, ‘I’ve never tried that one before’ and next thing you know I’m shoving it in my face,” Satterfield says. Flavors he can recall include butternut squash, pumpkin, corn, yogurt, and fennel ice cream. Only available for lunch, the sandwiches change each day, and the restaurant usually offers two or three different ones.
Satterfield estimates he served more than 1,000 sandwiches last year, not including the ones for parties and at house events. Even though he loves the dessert, Satterfield does his best to save them for special occasions. “I try not to let myself eat them because it’s easy to slip into the ice cream sandwich trap and next thing you know you’re eating them every day and you’ve gained 25 pounds.”