I think my nefarious plan is working better than ever. This year’s distraction, which brought sweet maple together with a pinch of cinnamon and ginger, a dash of allspice, and a lick of molasses in a handheld package, made us all a little giddy and giggly, like little kids getting away with something sneaky at the grown-ups’ table.
And it proved beyond a doubt that ice cream sandwiches aren’t just for the summer months—a cold dessert over the holidays is a welcome change from the vats of hot chocolate, mountains of sugar cookies, and bowls of foil-wrapped candies that pile up in December (though one of these sandwiches would pair awfully well with a mug of salted caramel hot cocoa).
I know that time is at a premium this month, too—we’ve all got parties and cookie swaps and frantic gift searches and, oh yeah, lots of work to finish before everyone skedaddles home at the end of the month. I’ve been holding on to this no-ice-cream-maker-necessary recipe from Bon Appetit for a while, and this seemed like the perfect time to test it out. The soft-serve-esque maple cream firms up nicely thanks to an egg custard/whipped cream emulsion, but melts quickly once out of the freezer, so work quickly when assembling your ice cream sandwiches.
The cookies you use to build your sandwiches are up to you: make a homemade batch of gingerbread if that’s your thing, mix it up with oatmeal cookies if you want a little texture, or just grab a fresh few dozen from your favorite bakery if you’re pressed for time. No one’s judging; everyone’s just grateful for a new and unexpected treat mixed in with the traditional, tried, and true.
Maple-Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 5 hours 30 minutes, including ice cream freezing time
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (5 1/2 oz.) grade B maple syrup
- 3 large egg yolks
1 batch of your favorite gingerbread cookies, cut and baked into 3-inch rounds
(need inspiration? Try one of these recipes from Food for My Family or King Arthur Flour)
Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 1/2 cup of the cream until whipped into stiff peaks. Refrigerate the whipped cream.
Fill a small, straight-sided saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup cream, maple syrup, and egg yolks in a heatproof stainless steel or Pyrex bowl and set over the saucepan of simmering water. Whisk continuously for 8-10 minutes, until the mixture slightly thickens and turns opaque, and registers 175˚ on a candy or digital thermometer.
Remove the bowl from the simmering water and beat with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for 3-4 minutes until the custard is cool and thick.
Gently stir the custard into the reserved whipped cream until fully incorporated. Transfer to a clean, lidded container and freeze until the ice cream hardens, at least 4 hours (or overnight).
Bake the cookies while the ice cream freezes and cool completely.
Spoon 1 tablespoon ice cream onto the flat side of a cooled cookie. Top with a second cookie, flat side down, gently smashing the ice cream to the edge of the cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and cookies.
Ice cream sandwiches will keep for up to a month in the freezer. Store in a lidded container.