Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Flavors: Ginger


Mmmm. Ginger. Isn't it amazing how different a flavor can taste depending on the other flavors/ingredients it is paired with? Ginger in Asian cuisine tastes completely different from the ginger flavor that we love and associate with Christmas...and yet it is so tasty in all of its forms. I'm really quite grateful for the variety and the different routes that each culture took flavor-wise.

When ginger comes into Christmas territory, it is quite often paired with molasses. Mmmm. What a wonderful combination!


Gingersnap Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Oleo (80 percent vegetable oil margarine) or butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda (if you use 3 cups of flour instead of 2, increase the baking soda to 2 heaping teaspoons)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup mild-flavor molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour (for a more cakey cookie, add 3 cups flour)
1/4 cup coarse white, granulated, or colored sugar

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine oleo (or butter) and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and molasses until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer (I have always been able to incorporate all of the flour with a mixer, whether I used 2 cups or 3 cups of flour). Cover and chill for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the 1/4 cup coarse sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven about 10 minutes or until tops are crackled and edges are firm. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 50 cookies.

To store: layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: I found this recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website. You can find it here.

Notes: I searched out this recipe because my next door neighbor treated us to some of the best ever homemade gingersnaps when we moved into our house. I begged them for the recipe and all they would say was that it was a Better Homes and Gardens recipe. So, I searched their site and this is what I found. The taste was right on...but the texture was different from the ones they gave us. This recipe, as written, makes flat, soft, and chewy cookies. However, the cookies my neighbors gave us were cakey. So, I made the recipe as written a few times. They are delicious just like that. However, if you want them to be more cakey, add 3 cups of flour instead of 2 and add two heaping teaspoons of baking soda. Those two changes made the cookies almost identical to the ones I remembered our neighbors bringing to us. These are sooooo good!





Granny's Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

9 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water

Caramel Sauce:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream, optional


Directions:

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with water.

Transfer to a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

For caramel sauce, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla until smooth. Serve with warm cake. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Yield: 9 servings.

Source: This is a Taste of Home recipe. You can find it here.          

Notes: I didn't try the caramel sauce this year. I thought the whipped cream would be enough, and while I had all of the ingredients for the sauce, I felt like I had cooked with enough butter over the Christmas season so far. :) Gingerbread cake with whipped cream is one of my all-time favorite desserts. If whipped cream is a little too rich for you, just dust your gingerbread cake with some powdered sugar. This is a yummy, easy, and foolproof recipe.

 

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