Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus chilling and assembly time
Servings: Makes about 18 large ice cream sandwiches (or 36 cookies)
Note: Adapted from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques" by Suzanne Goin. This cookie dough is very soft when made and may need to be chilled at intervals as the cookies are rolled and assembled. Sandwiches are best assembled one day ahead to allow the cookies to soften slightly.
2/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons coarse or sanding sugar, for sprinkling
About 1 1/2 quarts premium ice cream such as vanilla, butter pecan or rum raisin
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave. Measure one-half cup and cool until it reaches room temperature and is slightly thickened. Discard any remaining shortening.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixture using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the cooled shortening, molasses, granulated sugar and egg at medium speed until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes (it will not be fluffy).
4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Mix in the combined dry ingredients, one-half at a time, until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide the dough in half and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill the dough for about 15 minutes to firm slightly.
5. Remove half of the chilled dough and roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper until it is slightly thicker than one-eighth inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 -inch cookie cutter to cut as many cookies as possible from the dough. Peel away the scraps, then gently peel off the cookies. The dough may need to be chilled again to make peeling easier; if so, simply place the dough, still on parchment or plastic, on a baking sheet and freeze for several minutes. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat using the rest of the dough and scraps.
6. Just before baking, brush the dough rounds lightly with the cream, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
7. Bake the cookies, one pan at a time, until they puff and begin to deflate, and are just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. Cool completely on the baking sheets; the cookies will flatten and crack slightly as they cool. Make sure the cookies are completely cool prior to assembly.
8. To assemble, spread a heaping one-third cup ice cream (slightly softened) over the bottom of one cookie, and carefully top with another cookie. Press firmly but gently to avoid breaking the cookies. Run a knife or offset spatula around the edges to clean up any ice cream hanging over the edge. Freeze for at least 1 hour to firm the ice cream. Repeat with all the cookies.
Each ice cream sandwich: 336 calories; 4 grams protein; 39 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 18 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 57 mg. cholesterol; 110 mg. sodium.