If you’re a coffee and ice cream lover, you NEED to make these coffee ice cream sandwiches. They’re really easy to make and taste absolutely incredible, with a soft, fluffy coffee sponge, a creamy no-churn coffee ice cream centre and a deliciously crisp, crunchy chocolate almond shell. Plus, they’re gluten and dairy free – not that you could possibly tell.
I’m officially OBSESSED with this recipe. It combines three of my all-time favourite things: coffee, chocolate and ice cream sandwiches – and it’s absolutely fabulous.
This is actually the third ice cream sandwich recipe I’m sharing within the space of about a month… what can I say, since I started making them I simply can’t stop. (Though honestly, it’s a great problem to have, especially during a heatwave!) If you missed them, definitely check out the gluten free chocolate ice cream sandwiches and the gluten free lemon blueberry version as well, both are incredibly delicious.
These coffee ice cream sandwiches are (due to popular demand) both gluten free AND dairy free – not that you could possibly tell. They’re guaranteed to be a hit with everyone, regardless of whether or not they follow a gluten and/or dairy free diet.
I really stuffed them full of coffee – I’m a big believer in that if you’re making a coffee dessert, it should be almost overflowing with coffee flavour, and these 100% fulfil that requirement. So, if you want to avoid a combined sugar-and-caffeine rush, feel free to make them with decaf coffee instead.
These ice cream sandwiches have three components:
- super fluffy coffee sponge
- rich and creamy coffee ice cream layer
- crisp, crunchy chocolate almond shell (optional)
I used instant coffee in both the sponge and the ice cream layer, because it allows you to make a highly concentrated coffee solution. That way, you can add a lot of flavour without having to add too much extra liquid, which could interfere with getting the perfect sponge and ice cream texture. (You could try using espresso powder as an alternative, though I haven’t tested it so I can’t guarantee whether or not it will work.)
As you probably noticed, I listed the chocolate almond shell as “optional” in the bullet point list above. That’s because the ice cream sandwiches will be amazing even without it – so, if you’re in a rush or just lacking patience, you can just slice up the initial ice cream sandwich slab and enjoy these without a chocolate shell.
However, if you’ve been round these part before, then you’ll know that I’ll take any excuse to include chocolate into a recipe… and the crisp, crunchy chocolate almond shell really makes these ice cream sandwiches even more spectacular, both flavour- and texture-wise.
So, while the chocolate shell is technically optional… it’s also very, very much recommended.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these amazing ice cream sandwiches – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
Dairy free no-churn coffee ice cream centre
The ice cream part of this recipe is based on the 3-ingredient vanilla no-churn ice cream that I used in my gluten free chocolate ice cream sandwich recipe. I just tweaked it, to make it dairy free and coffee-flavoured.
To make it dairy free, use a vegan double/heavy cream alternative (I used the Elmlea brand, which is available in the UK) instead of the regular dairy cream and vegan condensed milk instead of the regular one. It’s an easy swap to make, and the result is just as delicious as the regular, dairy-containing version.
You will add the coffee flavour in two parts:
- First, you’ll dissolve a rather generous amount of instant coffee in a few tablespoons of the vegan double/heavy cream alternative (heat it either in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop) and add that to the whipped cream + condensed milk mixture. This does make the ice cream mixture a bit looser, so there’s a limit to how much coffee you can add this way.
- Secondly, you’ll grind up a few teaspoons of the instant coffee into a fine powder and add it to the ice cream mixture. This part is optional, but it really amps up the coffee flavour even further without affecting the texture of the ice cream mixture.
The resulting dairy free coffee ice cream mixture (before freezing) will be slightly looser and runnier compared to its regular equivalent – both because we’re using dairy free alternatives and due to the addition of coffee. But don’t worry, once frozen, it will transform into this gorgeous, creamy, just-firm-enough ice cream that’s not icy or unpleasantly hard at all.
In fact, it has the perfect texture straight from the freezer, so you don’t have to thaw the coffee ice cream sandwiches before serving/eating them – you can enjoy them straight away.
The fluffiest gluten & dairy free coffee sponge
The coffee sponge in this recipe is based on the one from my gluten free tiramisu Swiss roll. It’s wonderfully soft, fluffy and moist, and simply bursting with coffee flavour.
In addition to using a vegan butter alternative instead of regular dairy butter, I also swapped part of the melted butter in the original sponge for oil, in order to ensure that the sponge stays nicely soft even when frozen. Because oil is a liquid fat (unlike butter, which is a solid fat), it won’t firm up and harden as much when frozen – this is true both when talking about the pure fat on its own and when it’s incorporated into a sponge cake.
This way, the sponge has the perfect soft, fluffy texture even straight from the freezer.
Note: I made the sponge slightly thicker in this recipe (using 4 eggs instead of 3 eggs as in the original tiramisu Swiss roll recipe). If you want the sponge to be thinner (to get a larger ice cream-to-cake ratio), you can use that sponge recipe instead, replacing half of the butter in the recipe with an equal weight of dairy free butter and the other half with an equal weight of a neutral-tasting oil, like sunflower oil or similar.
The crisp & crunchy chocolate almond shell
Now, you could go with just a “plain” chocolate shell here – and it would be great. However, there’s something extra special about the crunch you get when you add some chopped almonds into the mix.
The chocolate shell itself is based on the “magic shell” recipe: instead of using just pure melted chocolate, I added some coconut oil into it. This ensures that the shell isn’t too hard straight from the freezer.
The addition of the fat (coconut oil) means that you can easily bite into the shell. Using just straight-up chocolate would give a slightly too hard texture that you wouldn’t really want to bite into.
Make sure to use refined coconut oil, as it won’t add any coconut flavour to the ice cream sandwiches.
And there you have it: the most magical coffee ice cream sandwiches. Every single bite of these is just sheet perfection.
First, you encounter the crisp snap and the crunch of the chocolate almond shell. Then, you get the soft fluffiness of the coffee sponge – and finally, you get to the deliciously creamy ice cream centre. And, of course, it truly doesn’t get much better than the coffee and chocolate flavour combination.
If you can’t tell, I’m a teeny tiny bit in love with these ice cream sandwiches… and I hope you’ll love them too.
More amazing gluten free desserts
If you’re looking for more incredible gluten free dessert recipes, you’re definitely in the right place!
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
- Gluten Free Caramel “Twix” Cookies
- 6-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Gluten Free Tiramisu Swiss Roll
- Black Forest Flourless Brownie Cookies
- Gluten Free Boston Cream Pie Swiss Roll
- The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches (Gluten & Dairy Free)
- 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice, for greasing the baking sheet
- 10 g (2 tbsp) instant coffee
- 25 g (5 tsp) non-dairy milk (You can use almond, rice, soy or oat milk (provided that you’re not sensitive to oats), but I don’t recommend using coconut milk.)
- 4 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
- 150 g (¾ cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 35 g (2½ tbsp) vegan butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm (I used the Stork vegan butter block that’s available in the UK. However, you can use your favourite vegan/dairy free butter instead.)
- 20 g (1½ tbsp) sunflower oil or other neutral-tasting oil of choice
- 110 g (¾ cup + 3 tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, reduce the amount to ¼ tsp.)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
No-churn coffee ice cream:
- 5 g (1 tbsp) instant coffee
- 250 g (1 cup + 1½ tbsp) vegan heavy/double cream alternative, cold from the fridge, divided (I recommend using one with a fat content of about 30%. I used the Elmlea brand.)
- 200 g (⅔ cup) vegan sweetened condensed milk, cold from the fridge (I used Nature’s Charm sweetened condensed coconut milk, but other vegan condensed milk alternatives will also work well.)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 5 g (1 tbsp) instant coffee, crushed into a fine powder (optional)
Chocolate almond shell:
- 300 g (10½ oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 40 g (3 tbsp) refined coconut oil (measured when solid but scoopable)
- 80 g (~½ cup) almonds, chopped
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a 10x15-inch (25x38cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment/baking paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the sides of the baking sheet with oil (you can also spray it with non-stick baking spray).Tip: Greasing the parchment paper ensures that the baked sponge will smoothly release from it without sticking too much.
- Either in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heat the coffee and non-dairy milk together, with occasional stirring, until the instant coffee granules have fully dissolved. Set aside to cool until lukewarm or at room temperature.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, thick, fluffy and about tripled in volume (the ribbon stage). This should take about 5-7 minutes on a high speed setting.
- Add the vanilla and whisk until evenly distributed.
- Add the melted butter, oil and cooled coffee, and whisk briefly until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the gluten free flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk well for about 15-30 seconds until no flour clumps remain. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to prevent any unmixed patches.
- Transfer the batter into the lined baking sheet and smooth it out into an even layer. You can tap it a few times on the counter to make it perfectly level and also to get rid of any large trapped air pockets.Tip: It's very important that your batter is as level and even as you can get it, otherwise you'll get uneven layers in your ice cream sandwiches.
- Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 10-12 minutes or until well risen, soft and spongy to the touch, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the sponge to cool completely in the baking sheet.
Assembling the ice cream sandwiches - Part I:
- Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking tin with parchment/baking paper, aluminium foil or plastic wrap/cling film.Tip: The baking tin I used had a 7-inch (18cm) bottom, which made it the perfect fit for a sponge baked in a 10x15-inch (25x38cm) baking sheet. If your baking tin has straight edges and therefore an 8-inch (20cm) bottom the fit might be less perfect, but you'll trim the edges of your ice cream sandwich slab later on so it won't be a problem.
- Turn the cooled sponge onto a large sheet of parchment/baking paper or onto your work surface, and peel away the top sheet of parchment/baking paper (that used to line the baking sheet).
- Cut out two large sponge squares that fit the baking tin where you'll be assembling the ice cream sandwich slab.Tip: As I used a baking tin with a 7-inch (18cm) bottom, I cut out two 7-inch (18cm) squares of the coffee sponge.
- Place one of the sponge squares on the bottom of the lined baking tin, then prepare the ice cream mixture.
No-churn coffee ice cream:
- Either in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heat the coffee (5g/1 tbsp, not the powdered one) and about 60g (4 tbsp) of the vegan heavy/double cream together, with occasional stirring, until the instant coffee granules have fully dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whip the remaining cold vegan heavy/double cream until you get peaks that are as firm as possible. You can do this by hand using a large balloon whisk, with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters.Tip: Vegan cream alternatives tend to whip up less effectively than regular dairy heavy/double cream. Even if you only get soft peaks after prolonged whisking, that's perfectly okay.
- Add the vegan condensed milk and vanilla bean paste, and whisk again until you get soft peaks.
- Add the coffee-cream mixture and whisk well until fully combined. Your mixture might have a looser, runnier consistency at this point – that's okay.
- Optional: Add the crushed instant coffee powder and fold it into the ice cream mixture until evenly distributed.Tip: The crushed, powdered instant coffee really amps up the coffee flavour without further affecting the texture of the ice cream mixture.
Assembling the ice cream sandwiches - Part II:
- Pour the no-churn ice cream mixture on top of the bottom sponge and smooth it out into an even layer.
- Optional but recommended step: If your ice cream mixture is too runny at this point (so much so that the top sponge might sink into it), you can first freeze it without the top sponge for about 30-60 minutes or until the ice cream has partially firmed up. Only then proceed to the next step: placing the other sponge on top.Tip: Partially freezing the ice cream layer will prevent the top sponge from sinking into it – this is an optional step in case your ice cream mixture is too runny.
- Gently place the other sponge square on top.
- Cover the baking tin with plastic wrap/cling film or a sheet of aluminium foil and freeze for any least 6-8 hours or preferably overnight.
- Once frozen solid, remove the ice cream sandwich slab from the baking tin and trim the edges with a large serrated knife. This will give you neater ice cream sandwiches.
- Cut the frozen ice cream sandwich slab into the individual portions.I divided it into 8 rectangular slices (by cutting it in half in one direction and into quarters in the other direction), but you can also divide it into 16 smaller square portions.
- Freeze the ice cream sandwiches again for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the chocolate almond shell.
Chocolate almond shell:
- Line a tray or baking sheet (that fits into your freezer!) with plastic wrap/cling film, parchment/baking paper or aluminium foil.
- In a small or medium-sized bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together until the chocolate has fully melted and the mixture is runny.Tip: Don't use a large bowl, as that will give you a shallow "pool" of melted chocolate. You want the melted chocolate mixture to be quite deep, so you can easily dip the ice cream sandwiches into it.
- Add the chopped almonds to the melted chocolate and mix well until evenly distributed.
- Dip the frozen ice cream sandwiches, one at a time, into the melted chocolate mixture. Make sure that all sides are covered in chocolate. Shake off as much excess chocolate as you can – you want to get a thin chocolate coating (a thick shell can be a bit too hard when you bite into it).Tip: I recommend using a fork to lift the ice cream sandwiches out of the melted chocolate. Then, tap the fork on the side of the bowl to shake off and remove as much excess chocolate as possible.
- Transfer the chocolate-covered ice cream sandwiches onto the lined tray or baking sheet. As the ice cream sandwiches are very cold, the chocolate should set fairly quickly.
- Freeze the chocolate-covered ice cream sandwiches again for at least 1 hour before serving.
- The gluten & dairy free coffee ice cream sandwiches keep well in a closed air-tight container in the freezer for up to about 1 month.