On a recent yard sale-ing expedition, I uncovered back issues of Martha Stewart's magazine and bought a few of the October issues that I was without. Turning directly to the food section, my eyes stopped at this recipe:
Pumpkin-Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup Milk Caramel
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup canned solid-packed pumpkin
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
1. Bring milk, cream, milk caramel, and cinnamon stick to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat. Cover, and let stand 30 minutes. Return to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick. Set aside.
2. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Put yolks and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 4 minutes.
3. With machine running, add hot milk mixture in a slow, steady stream. Add pumpkin and vanilla, and beat until combined. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl set in the ice-water bath. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Sandwich ice cream between gingerbread cookies just before serving.
Even if I had an ice cream maker . . . Making my own milk caramel, straining it into an ice water bath . . . And there are still the gingerbread cookies to make . . . I just don't think I want a homemade ice cream sandwich that badly. I closed the magazine, put it on the shelf, and went on with my life.
But it wouldn't let go.
Wherever I went. Whatever I did. Thoughts of pumpkin ice cream sandwiched between chewy gingerbread cookies haunted me.
So, always seeking the shortest distance between two points, I decided to make my own version of homemade pumpkin ice cream. Using two ingredients: vanilla ice cream and pumpkin pie filling. And this is where things got a little experimental.
I started with two tablespoons of ice cream and added two teaspoons of pumpkin pie filling and switched on the blender. Too pumpkin-y. I added more ice cream. Not pumpkin-y enough. The Goldilocks approach finally resulted in the perfect pumpkin ice cream. Then I added cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice until it tasted even more perfect.
On to the gingerbread cookies.
And it's not that Martha's recipe didn't look delicious. Of course it did. But I played it safe and used my own gingerbread recipe instead. (The time for trying new recipes is not while counting the seconds until eating an ice cream sandwich.)
2 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each allspice and baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1. Stir flour with spices and baking soda. In another bowl, beat butter with sugar until creamy. Beat in molasses. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough forms.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Add spoonfuls of dough to parchment-covered baking sheet. Use tablespoons if you want large sandwiches; teaspoons if you want small ones. Bake 10 minutes until the cookie edges start to brown. Flatten with a spatula just before done. Cool completely.
If all has gone well, they should look something like this.
The rest requires no explanation. I put some ice cream between two cookies, pressed them together and ate them. And they were all I had imagined.
There is one point that I cannot stress enough, however. The cookies must cool COMPLETELY before adding the ice cream. I was a little impatient and the results are obvious. I include this as a reminder so others don’t have to suffer as I have suffered.