Gingerbread Ice Cream Sundae with Rum-Molasses Pineapple Sauce and Candied Ginger
There is a reason the word “ass” is part of the name of that drippy, gooey, sticky (yes sticky being the perfect concatenation of stinky and icky) molasses. It smells and tastes like, well, you know. *crinkle nose* After sugar cane or sugar beets are squozen and the juice is boiled down to a syrup, the crystals that form are removed – the crystals are refined sugars, and the brownish-black liquid that remains is molasses. Molasses is leftovers. Dregs. A putrid by-product of sugar-refinery. Molasses neither smells nor tastes even the least bit like a food product at all...on its own. But as much as I think molasses by itself is mildly revolting, is a very necessary ingredient in one of my favorite things, gingerbread. And given that it is the theme ingredient for this month’s installment of Sugar High Fridays, I had to buy it and use it.
Gingerbread and gingersnaps are the most obvious things to make with molasses, but both of those absolutely scream autumn/winter. So making gingerbread in mid-spring, particularly here in LA where 80 degree April days already feel like summer, would be akin to serving a strawberry shortcake at Christmas dinner. It’s warm. (Almost) summer. Outdoors. A shoo-fly pie could have worked with such parameters, but then my research uncovered that it’s called “shoo-fly” because it was made to attract flies away from other foods. Ok, something made specifically to catch flies, like those rank mosquito coils? Insect-repellant food is just not right. Besides, all of those are just too easy (not to make necessarily, but to find), and though I am quite the amateur in the kitchen, I wanted to challenge myself.
Either I didn’t aim very high to begin with or I just couldn’t figure out anything else to do with such sludgy stuff, because what do I end up with?...gingerbread. *sigh* But it is just a base for an almost-warm-weather dessert that features molasses not only in the gingerbread, but in the sauce...Gingerbread Ice Cream Sundae with Rum-Molasses Pineapple Sauce and Candied Ginger. *high five! high five!* So I actually rose to my challenge.
The gingerbread is a conglomeration of a number of recipes for gingerbreads and ginger cakes. I know baking is about measurement and science, but *eh* I sort of went off of taste for this one and wanted to end up with a fairly dark gingerbread. Besides, if it turned out not to my exact liking the first time (which it didn't) I had a whole jar of molasses that I didn’t need to keep for future use. In my frequent leisurely evening browsing of Joy of Cooking, I came across the pineapple recipe - and was happy to have a use for the bottle of Appleton Estate rum that a friend brought back for me from Jamaica last year. Substituting molasses for dark brown sugar, I worried that the sauce may not be sweet enough. However, my produce pal at the market gave me a pineapple that was incredibly juicy and ripe-to the-point-of-dripping-like-honey, so adding pieces to the bubbling butter, rum, and molasses in the saucepan made it perfectly not-overly sweet. I think at least half of the pineapple made it into the saucepan. What happened to the rest will have to remain a mystery :)
It looked so pretty when it was all put together, if I do not-so-humbly say so myself *giggle* A dark, exotic gingerbread island in the midst of a little sea of rum-molasses, now vanilla ice cream flowing like ivory lava into subtle swirls. The pineapple were a dark, glossy yellow, leisurely tumbling down the sides and going for a dip in the sauce. Atop the disintegrating vanilla volcano, a racy slice of candied ginger, and it lingers, it lingers, it lingers, until it finally slips down, yet ever so slowly down the side. Though I've never been there, a bite with the rum-soaked gingerbread, a piece of pineapple, and a dollop of ice cream, tasted like what I imagine Jamaica on a plate would taste like. Yah, mon. Buzz from the rum...