by Jennie Schacht of {fork & swoon}

I’m thankful for many things at this time of year, not the least of which is Oakland’s mild weather, which makes us a year-round ice cream kind of place. The most fun way to enjoy ice cream? Sandwiched, of course.

These pretty sandwiches combine two good reasons for giving thanks: pumpkin pie and the Maple Leaf cocktail, made with bourbon and maple syrup, my inspiration for this recipe. The crisp, spicy cookies are cut into leaf shapes in keeping with the autumnal theme. The booze adds great flavor and also helps to keep the ice cream soft and creamy. Omit it if it’s not your thing. If you want to get extra fancy, fold half of the maple-buttered pecans into the ice cream and save the rest for rolling the sandwich sides.

D.I.Y. is great and all, but you can lighten your holiday prep load by opting for store-bought maple cookies or sugar cookies. This time of year you may also find pumpkin ice cream on offer, or mix a cup of pumpkin puree, pie spices, and a shot of bourbon into a quart of softened vanilla ice cream until smooth, along with some chopped pecans, if you wish, and freeze until firm enough to form the sandwiches. If you also purchase candied pecans your only work is the sandwich assembly for an easily made treat that will still impress your guests.

You may not think of ice cream when it comes to Thanksgiving dessert, but this seasonal sandwich will definitely have your family and friends swarming to thank you.


GIVING THANKS: Boozy Pumpkin-Pecan Ice Cream on Maple Leaf Cookies

Adapted from i scream SANDWICH!: Inspired Recipes for the Ultimate Frozen Treat, by Jennie Schacht

Makes 12 sandwiches

You’ll need a 2 1/2- to 3-inch maple leaf cookie cutter, or another festive autumn cutter. If it’s asymmetrical, you’ll need to turn it over to cut half of the cookies. Look for maple sugar in specialty and natural food stores, or order it online from King Arthur Flour.


Boozy Pumpkin-Pecan Ice Cream

1 cup (245 g) pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B or A dark amber

3 tablespoons bourbon, brandy, or rum

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons crème fraîche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 recipe Maple-Buttered Pecans (recipe below)

1. Process the pumpkin, milk, cream, maple syrup, bourbon, tapioca, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a blender until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until it begins to steam and slightly bubble at the edges. Adjust to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a cream sauce, about 3 minutes longer; do not fully boil.

2. Whisk the crème fraîche and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Add about 1/2 cup of the thickened pumpkin mixture, stirring until smooth, then stir in the rest of the pumpkin mixture.

3. Set the bowl over a larger bowl of ice and water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is cool, taking care not to slosh water into the bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours. Transfer the bowl to the freezer for the last half hour before spinning it.

4. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, adding the pecans during the last minute of spinning. While the ice cream spins, line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with waxed paper and place it in the freezer. When the ice cream is ready, spread it evenly into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface, and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.


Maple-Buttered Pecans

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup (120 g) pecans, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon medium-grind sea salt, such as gray salt, fleur de sel, or Maldon sea salt, or to taste

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until they smell toasty and turn light golden, taking care not to burn them. Off the heat, sprinkle the sugar and salt evenly over the nuts and stir with a heatproof spatula until the sugar melts, returning the pan to the heat if needed to glaze the nuts. Transfer the nuts to a silicone baking mat or a sheet of parchment paper to cool completely. Once cool, chop or break apart the nuts if they have clustered.


Maple Leaf Cookies

1 cup (132 g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick / 113 g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4  cup (150 g) pure maple sugar or granulated sugar

2 tablespoons pure maple, turbinado, or coarse sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter and 3/4 cup (150 g) maple sugar in a medium bowl with a handheld electric mixer until creamy. (Alternatively, use a wooden spoon.) Mix in the flour mixture just until well combined. (If using a mixer, it may be easier to finish the mixing by hand.)

3. Roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap (lightly floured, if needed) to 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top plastic and use a leaf-shaped cutter to cut out 24 cookies, gathering and re-rolling the scraps up to two more times to make all of the cookies. Transfer the cookies as you cut them to the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the cookies with the remaining 2 tablespoons maple sugar.

4. Bake until the cookies are a shade darker golden than when they went in, about 14 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheets, then slide the cookies on the parchment to wire racks to cool completely.



Pair the cookies with like-size mates, inverting one cookie in each set to create a match if they are non-symmetrical. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and use the sling to lift it from the pan to a flat surface, cutting around the edges with a knife to loosen it, if needed.

Use the same cutter used to cut the cookies to cut out 12 matching shapes from the ice cream, gathering scraps to form the last one or two, if needed. As you make them, use a small offset spatula to slide the ice cream cutouts between two cookie bottoms. Alternatively, scoop the ice cream between each set of cookie bottoms and press gently so that the ice cream comes just to the edges. If desired, use a small offset spatula or the flat side of a dinner knife to smooth the ice cream flush with the edges.


Cookbook author Jennie SchachtJennie Schacht is the author of i scream SANDWICH! and Farmers’ Market Desserts, and co-author of several books including The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook and Southern Italian Desserts. She has consulted to numerous chefs, restaurateurs, and authors on developing their book concepts and proposals and in writing their books. Her culinary and health care consulting company, Schacht & Associates, has raised over $135 million for public and not-for-profit organizations. Learn more at or

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