Thursday, December 24, 2015

Something for Santa?
What’s cooking? Ice Cream Sandwiches with Molasses Cookies

Don’t ask me why I decided to make ice cream sandwiches to be the dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner, but there it is.

Well, since you ask, I think it started when I was thumbing through one of my new favorite cookbooks, Food52 Genius Recipes. The Kitchen Goddess was taking a bit of umbrage at the “genius” part of the title, snorting about who these people think they are, claiming that sort of stature.

Then I saw the recipe for Molasses Cookies. Oh, my. They looked soft and chewy and just the sort of cookie I lust after in cold weather. Starbucks used to have a ginger molasses cookie that looked very much like this one and would cause me to practically drool in front of the counter before I could stammer out my request. But those disappeared a couple of years ago, and my Starbucks visits haven’t been the same since.

So there they were, these perfect Molasses Cookies, emerging apparently from the kitchens of the Silver Palate. One of the “genius” things the Food52 people have done is to wheedle recipes of specialties from some of the best cooks in the country. And then they mention – oh, so casually – that these large, flat cookies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches.

That did it for me. I’d been scratching my head for weeks as to what to serve at the Christmas Eve dinner that would appeal to the five adults as well as the two pre-schoolers, and this seemed a perfect solution.

The cookies themselves are easy to make – you only have to be sure you allow enough room between blobs of dough on the baking sheet, because they will spread, and once they kiss, at least one of them won’t be exactly round any more.

And the assembly process was a lot easier than I expected, as well. The key is to use a scoop – maybe a scoop and a spoon for pushing – that produces shaves of ice cream, not blobs. Then you can mash them around on top of the cookie however you want before depositing the second cookie on top. If you’re not eating them immediately, wrap them in cellophane wrap and freeze them until it’s time. Easy, peasy. And fun!

The Kitchen Goddess wanted desperately to make this project into a real project, if you get my drift, by making her own ice cream. Then she had a moment of clarity and bought some Dreyers’ Vanilla Bean ice cream, and life smiled again. You can do whatever you damn well please – don’t let me stop you. Just know that my store-bought ice cream and my soft, buttery molasses cookies were just fine together, without the extra sweat and angst.

Molasses Cookies

Adapted from The Silver Palate, as appeared in Food52 Genius Recipes.

Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on the size.

12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
1¾ cups (220 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350º. Line the bottoms of two large rimmed baking sheets with foil.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and add the sugar and the molasses. Remove from the heat and stir energetically with a whisk to get the ingredients well mixed, then add the egg and whisk again to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients all at once. Stir well, making sure to incorporate the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl. Even when the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, the batter will be fairly wet.

Drop tablespoons of batter onto the foil, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Bake at 350º for 9-10 minutes, until the cookies start to darken. Cookies should cool on the foil, but you can slide the foil sheet out of the pan and onto your counter without damaging the cookies. Then add a new sheet of foil to the pan for the next batch.

Kitchen Goddess note: If you’re planning to make ice cream sandwiches, you’ll want to get consistently sized cookies. I used a 1 tablespoon measure, which yielded 34 large, flat cookies that were 3 inches in diameter, and seemed a perfect size for sandwiches.

These cookies still had a slightly chewy center, but if you want smaller, chewier cookies, try substituting Crisco for half the butter. The Crisco has a higher melting point than butter and will keep the cookies from spreading so much.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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