Monday, December 21, 2009

Cake of the Week: Gingerbread Two Ways

There's only 3 more sleeps 'till Christmas!!!

In light of that most wonderful fact, it is only appropriate that I bring you gingerbread. It is the most classic Christmas cookie/dessert...not sure who decided that or why...but mmmm it's a-ok with me! And because I like variety, I bring you not one, but two variations on the gingrebread-y theme.

First I made gingerbread cupcakes. This was one of those times that I experimented, and it turned out well. (Much better than expected actually, I was a bit concerned for a while there!)
Let me explain:
- I DVR all episodes of Barefoot Contessa.
- I watched her make fabulous-looking gingerbread one day while I was doing my post-run situps (a little sick-and-twisted? Maybe...but I do what I want!)
- So I found the recipe online, and listed it on my blog.
- Thus, every time I checked on
Eat, Run, Read for the next week (which was like 20 times a day - not sure what I think is going to happen, but I swear I'm like an overprotective mother), I saw this delicious-looking recipe...and well, wanted it!

When I went to make it, I realized that I didn't have any sour cream. No worries though, milk+vinegar solves that problem. And I didn't have
golden raisins, or rum to soak them in. And I looked, but I couldn't find crystalized ginger anywhere. And I don't eat oranges, so zest wasn't going to happen. And then I didn't have quite enough butter. And then I realized that I only had about half the molasses the recipe called for...
Any normal person would stop baking and go to the store. But I can be exceptionally lazy, so I just decided to wing it.
If you want the Barefoot Contessa version, check it out here.
But if you want to experience this with me - here it is!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 1/2 stick unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar (mix them together and set aside before starting)
* 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line cupcake pans.

Place the water and raisins in a small pan, cover and heat until the water boils. Turn off the heat and set aside. Place the butter and molasses in another small pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cool for 5 minutes, then mix in the milk/vinegar combination and the sugar.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a small bowl. Mix with your hands until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix only until smooth. Drain the raisins and add them to the mixture with a spatula. Spoon into cupcake pans bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them with
Maple Syrup Frosting:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2Tbsp maple syrup
1-ish Tbsp milk (as needed)
Cream butter and sugar until blended. Add maple syrup. Add milk as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency.


And then I made traditional gingerbread cookies. This recipe is an old family heirloom - aka from our Betty Crocker's Cookbook, circa 1960. ("You're more time-conscious, energy-conscious, dollar conscious. More than ever you're preparing meals from scratch with fresh, natural foods - perhaps even in a microwave!")
What can I say, she does some things right!
My family likes thick soft cookies. If you're into the crunchy kind, just roll the dough thinner and cook them a bit longer.

Gingerbread Cut-out Cookies

1/3 cup Shortening
1 cup Brown Sugar (packed in cup)
1 1/2 cups Molasses
7 cups Flour
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. Ginger
1 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup cold Water
2 tsp. Soda
3 tbsp. cold Water

CREAM SHORTENING, add sugar gradually, and cream thoroughly. Blend in molasses. Sift the flour with spices and salt, and stir into molasses mixture alternately with the 1/2 cup water. Dissolve soda in the 3 tbsp. water and blend into dough.

Chill dough for at least 2 hours, then roll it out 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured board, or pizza-rolling sheet. Cut out your favorite shapes. Place cookies on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes in a 350* oven.

You can decorate the cookies pre-baking with candy, cinnamon dots, sprinkles, or whatever you can thing of. Or you can frost them when they are completely cooled. I went for frosting and sprinkles - aka a BIG mess. But totally worth it!


2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons water
- Mix until a good spreading/piping consistency. Feel free to add more water/powdered sugar until it feels right. Add food coloring if desired.

Ok, major sad-face. I can't find the wire to upload my beautiful gingerbread cookie pictures!!! So I promise to get you those tomorrow!!!