Serious Eats: Recipes

Holiday Treat: Sweet Potato and Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwiches

Let's just say, purely hypothetically, of course, that you're running a bit behind on your holiday prep. Maybe it's 3 p.m. and your turkey is still mostly frozen. Or maybe you just can't keep your relatives from nosing around the kitchen sniffing for a handout. I'm a firm believer in having frozen emergency treats on hand, ready at a moment's notice, both for a harried cook's sanity and immediate entertaining. That's where ice cream sandwiches come in. Keep a few of these pucks of joy wrapped up in your freezer for a much-need cook's treat, or to keep idle mouths at bay.

This is a sweet potato dessert that won't get mistaken for pumpkin. We used almost a pound, lightly caramelizing it in butter first for good measure. We went light on the spices—just enough to enhance the potato's inherent spicy qualities without turning it into pie. But this isn't tame stuff—just ask the bourbon, a sweet potato's best friend. We added it after cooking the custard so its alcohol would remain in the ice cream, contributing to a fantastically creamy texture and a kick strong enough to remind those nosy relatives who's boss.

Cookies for ice cream sandwiches can be a little tricky. They need to be soft, so as to keep your ice cream safely in the sandwich, and also stand up to the chill of a freezer. We used low-protein cake flour to make them puffy and soft, like little gingerbread cakes that freeze well. The cookies go heavy on ginger and molasses, with accents of cardamom, coriander, and black pepper. They're moist and spicy and not too sweet, easy to devour with gusto but adult enough to sit down and savor.

After you assemble your sandwiches, you wrap them in a couple layers of plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze for another day (they'll last for weeks). We can't promise they'll make time with your relatives easier, but they represent everything food holidays are about: sneaking in some dessert before a 4,000 calorie meal.

About the authors:

Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream, the only ice cream company that looks to international political movements for inspiration and donates all of its profits. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He lives above a tofu factory in Manhattan's Chinatown.

Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.

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