SPICED cakes and cookies have long been traditional favorites at holiday time. For hundreds of years, the highly flavored treats have been symbolic of the spices the Magi offered to the babe in the manger that first Christmas season. Here are several gingery desserts to choose from to add flavor to your holiday, and for take-along and send-along gifts from hand, heart, and hearth.
The gingersnap recipe for a Gingerbread Man has been in my family for many, many generations, and is an early American family recipe. Gingerbread Men 4 cups flour 1 tablespoon ginger 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup butter or other shortening 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup molasses
Sift dry ingredients together. Put shortening, sugar, and molasses in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until shortening is melted and sugar dissolved. Cool.
Add flour mixture, blending well. Chill in refrigerator several hours. On floured board, roll out small portions of dough to about 1/8-inch thick. With spatula, carefully lift dough onto greased and floured cookie sheet. Then cut out cookie shapes and carefully remove excess dough. Re-roll scraps and continue process until all dough is used.
Bake in preheated oven at 325 degrees F. for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Cookies may be stored in airtight container in freezer for a long time.
Note: For a richer cookie, add to the above ingredients: 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon allspice 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1/2 cup additional shortening Ginger-Log 1 cup flour (sifted) 2 teaspoons ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 5 egg yolks 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup molasses 5 egg whites 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Add sugar and molasses. Fold in flour mixture. In clean, dry bowl, and with clean, dry beater, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until whites are very thick and stand in peaks.
Carefully fold yolk mixture into stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold only a little at a time very gently until all is well blended. Grease jellyroll pan. Over this, spread a sheet of aluminum foil. Grease this and dust with flour. Leave an excess at each end so foil can be easily lifted off after sponge is done.
Pour batter over greased foil, and spread out in pan evenly. Bake in preheated 375-degree F. oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown and toothpick comes out dry when inserted. On paper toweling, sprinkle confectioners' sugar. (Use several thicknesses of toweling about 3 unbroken towels long.)
Remove roll from oven, and immediately turn face down on sugared paper toweling. Lift off pan and immediately tear off foil. With sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut off edges of cake. Work quickly while cake is still warm. Roll up cake, paper toweling and all, let cool wrapped in a roll.
Just before serving, add gingered whipped cream.
Gingered Whipped Cream 1 cup whipping cream (heavy cream) 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chill cream, sugar, vanilla together in refrigerator. Just before serving log, whip the cream until thick. Add minced ginger. Unroll cold log, frost with a cream, re-roll, and serve! Almond Ginger Cake With Penuchi Frosting and Toasted Almond `Quills' 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup molasses 1 egg 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 cup chopped almonds 1 cup blanched almonds for quills
Sift dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses. Beat in egg and sour cream. Gradually mix in flour mixture, and last of all mix in 1/2 cup chopped almonds. Pour batter into greased and floured 8- or 9-inch-deep cake tin. (One with tube center is ideal.) Bake in 350-degree F. oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until done.
Penuchi Frosting 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) 3/4 cup cream or evaporated milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
Cook first three ingredients over medium heat until a soft ball forms in cup of cold water. Remove from heat; stir until frosting starts to thicken. Add vanilla and frost cake. Toast almonds in slow oven. Watch carefully and turn occasionally. When they are slightly brown, remove from oven, cool, and position as quills in frosted cake.