My family doesn’t like pumpkin pie. Well, my husband does, but he gets outvoted every Thanksgiving, and we end with something – in his eyes – “nonfestive,” like chocolate cake. This year, I’m going to compromise and make a pumpkin pie-ish dessert: a tasty dessert sandwich with two sugar cookies on the outside and pumpkin pie ice cream in the middle. My kids love it because it involves two of their favorite food groups: cookies and ice cream, and the grown-ups never complain!
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
*1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (Blue Sky Creamery recommended)
*Use pasteurized eggs if you are cooking with kids who like to eat the dough. The risk of salmonella is greatly reduced.
Special equipment: 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters (pumpkins, leaves, turkeys, or a simple circle)
Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer or 6 minutes with a handheld. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 6-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out 1 disk of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into an 8 1/2-inch round (1/4 inch thick) on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin. (If dough becomes too soft to roll out, rewrap in plastic and chill until firm.) Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with cutters and transfer to 2 ungreased, large baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, gather scraps and chill until dough is firm enough to re-roll, 10 to 15 minutes. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps (re-roll scraps only once or the dough may become tough) and bake.
When the cookies have cooled, put one scoop of ice cream between two cookies (the ice cream is easier to work with if you take it out of the freezer 10 minutes before assembling the dessert). Wrap those that won’t be eaten right then in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer. Take out individual cookie sandwiches and let them stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies
Tips for Cooking with kids
If you are cooking with young chefs, ward off boredom and fatigue by doing this in two stages: the dough mixing, then later the cookie rolling and cutting. If do you refrigerate the dough overnight, let it warm up a bit before rolling it out. It should be firm, but not hard.
When you are ready to roll and cut out, clean off a large workspace (we use the kitchen table). Dust the entire table with flour, then put a handful of flour next to each young chef. Have them dust their hands and their rolling pin with their flour. Next, give them a ball of dough and let them roll it out. Ask them to roll it out and try to make a circle (don’t worry if it isn’t a circle, it won’t matter in the end). Make sure the dough doesn’t get too thin; it should be about 1/4 inch thick. Give them the cookie cutters and let them cut out their shapes. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets and bake them ASAP. Once they are baked and cooled, the cookies are ready to be made into the “better than pumpkin pie” dessert.