Friday, November 30, 2012

FROSTED: Bake, Bake As Fast As You Can...Try These Treats Inspired By The Gingerbread Man


As the month of the December begins and Christmas creeps closer every day, I think about my sister and all of the crazy holiday memories we have had together. As children we would make our own festive plays and perform them for our family, draw out maps and plans on how we would sneak out in the middle of the night to peek at all of our Christmas gifts under the tree, and get a sugar buzz from making and eating way too many Christmas cookies.

Just like my sister and I, whipping up sweet treats this time of year has become a tradition for many families. You can often see freshly baked fruit cake, sugar cookies, seven layer bars, Buche de Noel, and gingerbread men perfectly arranged on platters waiting to be served to guests. But why not stick with the same delicious taste of the goodies that we know and love and just add a dash of creativity?  This year, skip over your grandmother's boring gingerbread cookie recipe and experiment with some of these new tasty snacks that will surely become your new go-to holiday treat . . .

Individual Gingerbread Cheesecakes
(Courtesy of Pastry Affair)


Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 16 miniature cheesecakes)
  • 2 cups of gingersnap cookies, finely crushed 
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar 
  • 32 ounces (2 pounds) of cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves 
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest 
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) of sour cream 
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with approximately 16 paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl, mix together the gingersnap crumbs and melted butter until evenly coated. Spread the crumb mixture evenly between the baking cups and press down to firm up the crust.

2.  Place in the oven and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on cooling rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the sugar and the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and orange zest. Pour the filling evenly between the baking cups.

4.  Bake until cheesecake is set but still jiggles in the center when shaken, 20 to 30 minutes. Allow cheesecakes to cool completely on a wire rack. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread on top of cooled cheesecakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.



What a delicious dish to serve to guests at a formal Christmas dinner party!

Gingerbread Popcorn
(Via An Edible Mosaic)


Ingredients:
(Yields 12-15 servings)
  • 12 cups of air-popped popcorn (1/2 cup popcorn kernels)
  • 1 cup of toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Directions:

1.  Toss together the popcorn and nuts in a large bowl; set aside.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat; set aside. Sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl; set aside.

2.  Cook the butter, sugar, molasses, water, and salt in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305 degrees F (hard crack stage), stirring occasionally.  Carefully stir in the vanilla and baking soda/spice mix, and pour over the popcorn/nut mixture.
Use two heat-safe rubber spatulas to toss the popcorn around to distribute the toffee throughout.

3.  Spread the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet.  Let it cool and then break it apart; store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Nothing could taste sweeter than giving these goodies to teachers, hairdressers, postal workers, or coaches as a special holiday gift to say thank-you for all that they do.

Gingerbread Spice Latte
(Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie)


Ingredients:
(Makes one single serving cup)
  •  1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon of molasses (blackstrap or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons of strong coffee
  • 1 cup of milk of choice (skim, 2 %, almond milk, soymilk, etc.)
  • Sweetener to taste (sugar, stevia, etc.)
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
  • Gingerbread Cookie (optional)
Directions:

1.  Mix everything together in a small pot or in a mug. Then heat until desired temperature is reached. Alternatively, if you want a foamy latte: Mix spices into coffee. In a big measuring cup, microwave the milk until foamy. Then pour milk into coffee mixture. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a gingerbread cookie.



Think of how fantastic this hot creamy beverage would be served to guests at your annual cookie exchange party.


Creamy Gingerbread Fudge
(Courtesy of Luna Cafe)


Ingredients: 
(Makes around 32 pieces)
  • 2 cups of sugar (super-fine if you can find it)
  • 2 cups of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla (alcohol type)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

 Directions:

1.   Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with a sheet of heavy foil. Butter the foil. Fill the sink with ½ inch of cold water. Set the following items next to the stove: cup of hot water, pastry brush, 3 cups of ice water, cup of ice, candy thermometer, and instant-read thermometer.

2.  In a 3-quart or slightly larger heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cream, molasses, and butter and set over very low heat to melt. Stir occasionally and do not let the syrup come anywhere close to a boil. Your objective here is to clear (dissolve) the sugar before bringing the syrup to a boil. This should take from 10-15 minutes. But some syrups may take much longer. The longer you take on this step, the silkier and smoother your fudge. Do not proceed to the next step until the syrup is completely smooth and free of sugar crystals.

3.   After the sugar clears, wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped into hot water. If you neglect this step, you may end up with crystallized syrup.

4.  Bring the syrup to a brisk, but not out of control, boil. Make sure that the syrup stays well beneath the upper edge of the pan.

5.  Continue washing the sides of the pan with hot water periodically. Any crystals than form on the sides of the pan jeopardize the creaminess of the syrup. Now begin testing the temperature of the syrup by inserting a candy or instant-read thermometer into the center of the boiling syrup, without letting the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. You should begin testing for the soft ball stage at about 234° (see step 6). In my tests, it took 12-15 minutes of controlled boiling to reach this temperature.

6.  To accurately determine if your syrup is at the soft-ball stage, spoon 1 teaspoon or so of the hot syrup into 1 cup of ice water. (Use fresh ice water for each test.) If syrup dissipates immediately or forms a flat mass at the bottom of the cup, it isn’t ready.  However, if the end of the pour remains elevated or protrudes above the water, you need to move fast. Quickly roll the syrup into a ball between your fingers. The syrup ball should not flatten after you remove it from the ice water, unless you squeeze it between your fingers. It should be chewy, not dissolve immediately, in your mouth. When the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, remove it immediately from the heat and set the pan in the sink surrounded by ½-inch cold water.

7.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Let the fudge cool in the sink to 110° F.

8.  Remove the pan from the sink when the fudge tests 110°. Begin stirring slowly in a figure eight motion, stopping periodically to allow the fudge to react. The fudge is nearing the finish line when you begin to hear a “snap” as you stir it. The fudge has candied when it become thick, loses its high gloss, becomes streaked with lighter shades, and/or suddenly stiffens.Quickly stir in the nuts if you are using them.

9.  After the fudge is completely cool, remove it from the pan, pull off the wax paper, and score the top to create 32, 1-inch by 2-inch pieces. Cut the pieces. To store, either line a clean pan with plastic wrap, arrange the pieces in the pan, and wrap the entire pan with a couple layers of plastic wrap to store for a couple of days at room temperature, add an additional wrapping of foil to store longer in the frig, or wrap each piece of fudge in wax paper sheets and then put in a metal cookie tin.


Delight visitors with your crystal candy dish (that you got as a wedding present) filled with these treats for them to nibble on.


Gingerbread-Maple Moon Pies
(Courtesy of Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


Gingerbread Graham Cracker Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 16-18 moon pies)
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Molasses Maple Marshmallow Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of water, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon of molasses
  • 2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin (a little less than 1 envelope)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of maple extract
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
  • 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Graham Cracker Directions:

1.  Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat briefly to combine.  With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter one piece at a time.  Once you've added it all, increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and beat until the texture of the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  In a measuring cup whisk together the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla then add it to the mixer, and beat just until the dough comes together (mine was sort of crumbly, but it turned out fine).

2.  Turn the dough onto your work surface and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch.  Using a 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut rounds from the dough and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Reroll the scraps and repeat.  Use a fork to dock the graham crackers (poke holes in them).

4.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.  Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks, and let the crackers cool for about 2 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.  (At this point you can store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)

Marshmallow Filling Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine both sugars, 3 tablespoons of the water, the corn syrup, and molasses.  Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Continue cooking, without stirring, until the mixture registers 238 F on a candy thermometer, about 7-10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water to a small bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and set aside to allow the gelatin to soften.  Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  (Try to time it so the sugar  and meringue are ready at the same time - if the meringue is ready first, set the mixer on the lowest speed and continue beating until the sugar gets up to temperature.)

3.  When the sugar hits 238 F, turn off the heat under the pan and immediately add the softened gelatin.  Stir to combine.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the sugar down the side of the bowl into the mixer in a steady stream.  Add the vanilla and maple extracts then increase the mixer to high, and beat until the marshmallow is thick and the outside of the mixer bowl is cool to the touch.

Glaze Directions:

1.  Make glaze after the graham cracker sandwiches are done being assembled and set (see assembly instructions below). Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl.  Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in between each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in the vegetable oil.  

Assembly Directions:

1.  Match the graham crackers in pairs by size.  Pipe 1-2 tablespoons of the marshmallow filling onto the bottom of one cracker in each pair.  Top with the other cracker, and gently press to sandwich, until the marshmallow filling is spread to the edges.  Repeat with all pairs.  Set aside for about 2 hours to allow the marshmallow to set.

2.  Set the moon pies on a wire rack with a piece of wax paper underneath.  One at a time, add a moon pie to the chocolate and turn to coat completely.  Use a fork, lift the moon pie out of the chocolate, allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Set the glazed moon pie back on the wire rack.  Let the glaze set for about 1 hour. Store the moon pies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 1 week.     


Put a smile on your children's faces as they open their lunch box at school or daycare and find this yummy winter snack.

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies
(Recipe by Handle The Heat)


Ingredients:
(Makes about 24 blondies)
  • 2 3/4 cups, plus 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of unsulfured molasses
  • 1 3/4 cups of coarsely chopped white chocolate (10 ounces)
Directions:


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrap down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and molasses, beating until combined. Add flour mixture on low speed. Stir in white chocolate.

3.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until golden on edges, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.




Add a little flare to your next work holiday potluck with these spicy squares.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream
(Recipe by Oishii Treats)


Cupcake Ingredients:
(Yields 12 Cupcakes)
  •  1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
Eggnog Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of eggnog
  • 5 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of butter at room temp
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar (not powdered sugar)
Cupcake Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a cupcake tin with paper liners. In a electric mixer cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and then the water and molasses

2.  In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients flour, baking soda, powder and spices. Add your dry mixture to the electric mixer with your wet mixture and beat on medium until combined about 2 minutes.

3.  Fill cupcakes liners 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack completely.

Buttercream Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, whisk 1 cup of eggnog with 5 tablespoons flour. Heat over medium until the mixture starts to bubble, whisk constantly. Continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken, it will soon thicken to the consistency of cake batter. After about 7 minutes of whisking remove the mixture from the heat and add your extract.  Transfer the mixture to a heat proof bowl and let the mixture cool completely to room temperature.

2.  In your electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium high for 3 minutes the mixture should be light and fluffy and white in color. You want the sugar to be completely incorporated.

3.  Make sure that your milk/flour mixture is completely cooled and add it to the butter and sugar. (you don't want the milk/flour mix to be warm or it could melt the butter).  Beat all ingredients together for 1 minute on high speed, scrapping down the side of the bowl halfway, until smooth and blended. The frosting should be light and fluffy like whipped cream.


Be a hit this year at your child's school Christmas party with this stunning confection.  Sweet and Spice...and also looks nice!! So leave those old lifeless Gingerbread men in the past and add a zing to your holiday routine with these new gingerbread inspired goodies. Have a wonderful weekend!


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2 comments:

  1. These all look absolutely scrumptious! Never dreamed you could do so much with gingerbread!

    ReplyDelete