Why or how June 5th came to be National Gingerbread Day, no one seems to know, but it feels like an odd time, doesn’t it? A still-warm slice of gingerbread cake with whipped cream is my fantasy after an apple-picking foray in the fall, or on a chilly winter evening. But June 5th? By then I’m dreaming about ice cream. And ice cream gets me thinking about ice cream sandwiches, and suddenly, it hits me: Gingerbread ice cream sandwiches! I’m buzzed with the idea.
The commercial ice cream sandwiches of my youth were made with what looked like super-thin cakey chocolate biscuits. These days, so many high-end ones are made with crisp cookies, and when frozen, they’re too stiff to bite into. But frozen cake? That’s another story…that works.
Gingerbread is a super-easy, one-bowl cake that you can just whisk together—no need for an electric mixer—if you use melted butter or oil. To make gingerbread ice cream sandwiches:
•Heat oven to 350°F.
• Line a buttered 18- by 13-inch rimmed sheet pan (a.k.a. half-sheet pan) with a sheet of parchment paper.
• Whisk together ½ cup melted butter or oil, ¾ cup packed brown sugar, ½ cup molasses (not blackstrap), and 1 large egg in a large bowl, then whisk in 1½ teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon each of salt and cinnamon, and 2 cups all-purpose flour until smooth.
• Finally whisk in 2/3 cup boiling-hot water and spread batter evenly in pan.
• Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, 12 to 14 minutes.
• Cool on a rack, then turn out onto a cutting board and peel off parchment. Halve cake crosswise, and freeze layers on sheet pan, covered with wax paper.
• Sandwich flat sides (undersides) together with 1½ quarts softened ice cream—I used vanilla, but just about any flavor will work—then freeze again until firm. Cut into bars or squares and listen to the screams for more!