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Christmas Gingerbread

Originally uploaded by ted_major

We used to make these at Christmas when I was in high school, and they were delicious. Mom found the cookie molds and the recipe recently and I made them again. The recipe noted that the spices needed increasing, so adjusted them a bit, and in looking at other recipes also found the secret ingredient for gingerbread: cayenne pepper! Just a dash brings out the heat of the ginger.

  • 2 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cups water
  • 3/8 cups molasses
  • 1 Tbs. Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 Tbs. Cloves, ground
  • 2 Tbs. Ginger, ground
  • 2 (or 3!) dashes cayenne pepper
  • 8 Oz. (1/2 lb.) Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbs. Water
  • 8 Cups White Wheat Flour (I used white whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup or molasses in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; add butter. Stir until butter is melted and the mixture cools. Dissolve baking soda in remaining tablespoon of water and add to mixture. In a large bowl, combine flour and spices. Add the sugar/butter mix to the flour mixture and stir. Chill for several hours. Divide into small portions, roll out and cut out gingerbread men. Place on greased cookie sheet.

To make the ginger bears in molds, don’t chill. Lightly oil the molds once before making cookies, and then flour before each cookie. Take a small portion of the dough and press into the mold. Thinner cookies show more detail than fat ones. Turn over and shake out. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
ginger snaps
UPDATE! Feb. 11, 2010: This gingerbread also makes a fantastic ginger snap: roll into balls approx. 1 inch in diameter, then flatten to a 2-inch circle, and dip the top into sugar (granulated works fine, but the coarseness of turbinado is a little more attractive). Bake at 400F (convection if you have it) for 7 minutes.


Making Christmas Cookies

Originally uploaded by ted_major

The family recipe for making Christmas cookies. The secret’s the almond extract: don’t think of making them without it.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400F. Cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix flour salt, and baking powder together, then work into butter-sugar mix. Wrap in foil and chill until firm. Roll a small amount at a time to about 1/8″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Place on a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat) and bake 5-8 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Ice with a mix of confectioners’ sugar, a few drops of almond extract, milk, and food coloring, mixed to a spreading consistency. Add sprinkles as desired and let dry.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Originally uploaded by ted_major

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Whisk together oil and sugar, then beat in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour, then oats and chocolate chips. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

Oatmeal-Banana-Raisin Cookies

Originally uploaded by ted_major

• 1/2 cup canola
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 banana, mashed
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, such as Wheat Montana Prairie Gold
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 3 cups oatmeal
• 1 cup currants (or raisins)

Preheat oven to 350F (use convection if you have it).

Combine oil, sugar, and banana, whisking until well mixed. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk again. Fold in flour, soda, and cinnamon. Add oatmeal and currants, and stir until well mixed.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 10 minutes or to your liking.