The smell of just-baked gingerbread can soften the heart of even the most hardened holiday cynic. The gingerbread’s spices continue the flavor profile of the preceding dishes, while vanilla ice cream refreshes the palate after a rich meal. For a nostalgic touch, place each into a crisp wax-paper bag before serving.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
- ½ packed cup brown sugar
- ½ cup molasses
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sanding sugar, confectioners’ sugar or dragées for decoration (optional)
In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices, salt and pepper. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together 1 minute. Add molasses, egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, with machine running, until well combined. Form dough into large ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 5 hours.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. On lightly floured surface, roll dough ¼-inch thick. With 4-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter, form cookies and place at least 1 inch apart on a nonstick baking pan. Bake 9–11 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool completely.
Using a long serrated knife, cut ½ gallon of well-frozen vanilla ice cream (preferably brick shaped) into four equal lengthwise slices. Using the same cookie cutter, cut 8 ice cream shapes.
Assemble each sandwich. Cover with plastic wrap, and return to freezer until ready to serve. May be assembled 2 days in advance. Decorate before serving, if you like. Serves 8.
W & J Graham’s NV 20 Year Old Tawny Port. Offers concentrated flavors of dried figs, caramel and coffee. It will hold up nicely to the sweetness and spice of the gingerbread, yet won’t be overpowered by the ice cream. For guests who skip the sweets, this opulent Port serves as dessert in a glass.