And maybe that it's full of liberal, free-thinking hippies. That might not be entirely off base, but politics aside, you most certainly know its the place where Rice-A-Roni comes from - a.k.a. The San Francisco Treat. Go ahead, sing the little tune and imagine the little trolley car bell ringing at the end.
I've actually "enjoyed" a box or two of the stuff, but there is an entirely different treat, whose home is also most definitely San Francisco, that gives Rice-A-Roni a run for its money. That treat would be the It's It. It's basically ice cream sandwiched between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies and entirely coated in dark chocolate. Known as the "official food of San Francisco", the It's It was invented by George Whitney in 1928 and for decades sold exclusively at San Francisco's Playland. Whitney, Playland, and the It's It have quite a history and one of my dearest blogging friends, OysterCulture, has written a fabulous post that will most likely teach a local San Franciscan a thing or two.
OysterCulture and I have a shared obsession with the wonders of San Francisco so when she asked if I could come up with a homemade It's It recipe I jumped at the challenge. It's It are quite San Franciscan. It's easy to get them in the San Francisco Bay Area, but as you venture further afield they are difficult to come across and usually only the true San Franciscans know about them. You can mail order them in the US from the company, which sits just by the 101 highway a few miles south of the San Francisco airport. But its quite easy to make them at home - a bit multi-step, but totally worth it.
The first step is the make or purchase one or all of the following ice cream flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint, or Coffee (for Cappuccino). Each It's It is one of the four aforementioned flavors. No exceptions. And NO, you can't substitute a different flavor. The beauty of the It's It is that there isn't 31+ flavors. If you need an ice cream recipe you can use my mint chip recipe. Remove chocolate chips and mint for vanilla, or make it just mint.
The second step is to make the Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies. It's almost a shame this cookie recipe makes its debut as part of an It's It post. The entire It's It package trumps anything else, but these oatmeal cookies are perfection. I'm usually quite humble, but this oatmeal cookie is damn good. I can not keep a secret, especially a good one. In this case you should be very happy that I can't keep my mouth shut.
OLD-FASHIONED OATMEAL COOKIES
These cookies don't need to be muddled with chocolate chips or my evil nemesis raisins (had to pick 20 of them out of my bulgar salad at lunch yesterday). Though, if you want, it will happily accept the addition of such things. I don't add raisins to my oatmeal cookies and refuse to test recipes that do, so I suppose a handful will do. Oh, by the way, Whitney never made an It's It with an oatmeal raisin cookie. Moving on!
- 4 1/2 oz unsalted butter, room temp
- 1/2 c light brown sugar
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temp
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 c old-fashioned oats
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together all dry ingredients. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dries and mix until just combined. Mix in the oats. Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed parchment. Use a small ice cream scoop to make uniform cookies. I used a cookie scoop that is 1 Tbs by volume. This makes 32 cookies and or 16 It's Its. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over-bake, if anything, gently under-bake.
It's important that all the cookies are the same size and perfectly round. The moment they come out of the oven, gently shape into a perfect round with a biscuit cutter. Use one that is a little bigger than the cookie.
Set aside to cool. Once the cookies have cooled take the ice cream out of the freezer for 10 minutes to soften. Put ice cream in a piping bag with a large tip. Pipe ice cream on each under side of the cookie. You might have to do this in groups if the ice cream is melting, or place ice cream in freezer for a few minutes if too soft to pipe.
Press two ice cream piped sides together to create the perfect height. Use a small offset spatula to make sure ice cream is flush with the cookies. Freeze the sandwiches till hard. Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler. Use good quality chocolate or couverture (has a higher cocoa butter content and will make the final It's It look and taste better). Dip the ice cream sandwiches in the chocolate. I usually dip each side and then roll on its side to coat the sides. Immediately place on a silpat lined sheet and place in freezer. When its set, eat!