The Ice Cream Tip For Perfect Homemade Strawberry Shortcake Bars

Mastering the art of homemade strawberry shortcake bars is fairly simple. All you need is ice cream, cookies, and freeze-dried strawberries. But the process begins with a crucial step: Melt the ice cream till very soft but not liquid. In order to make the bars you need to get your ice cream into the ice pop molds, and the easiest way to do this is with nearly-melted ice cream. The secret lies in allowing the ice cream to melt gently, to avoid ice crystals and hard or chunky ice cream bars. 

The best and gentlest way to melt it is in the refrigerator, which should allow the whole container to melt to the perfect consistency and avoid a frozen block in the center. This method makes the ice cream moldable and easy to work with without sacrificing creaminess. You can also set the container on the counter and it should be ready within a half hour. 

If you're in a hurry be sure to avoid the temptation of the microwave since the recipe requires you to refreeze the ice cream after thawing it. The microwave can change the texture of the ice cream, and it will no longer be creamy when you refreeze it. A better alternative would be to take the ice cream out of its container and cut it into slices with a sharp knife warmed under hot water. If you leave these on a plate in the refrigerator or on the counter it will shorten your thawing time.

Common mistakes when making ice cream bars

As you embark on your frozen treat adventure, it's essential to be aware of common mistakes. Always be sure you start with fresh ice cream with no freezer burn, frost, or ice crystals at the top of the carton, which would affect the overall flavor and texture. Next, be sure not to melt the ice cream until it's completely liquid. You still want some of that fluffy, whipped ice cream texture. Otherwise, it will become solid when it refreezes. And finally, don't leave it out too long or it might become unsafe to eat.

When you've achieved the desired consistency — soft but not completely melted and liquid, fill your molds, insert your popsicle sticks, and place the bars in the freezer to set. In the meantime, prepare your crunchy topping by crushing or pulsing the cookies and freeze-dried strawberries together. Coat each bar with the prepared cookie and strawberry mixture, and there you have it — your very own ready-to-enjoy homemade strawberry shortcake ice cream bars.

Once you've mastered the technique, you can try different variations. Mix up the ice cream flavor, try a different freeze-dried fruit like blueberries or raspberries, or switch up the cookie for Amararetti biscuits or Oreo cookies. And to make that identical strawberry crumble topping found in store-bought bars gluten-free substitute powdered milk for the cookies. With careful attention to detail and a little patience, your ice cream bars can be as good as the store-bought ones.