I have a note to myself on my Gingersnap recipe in my recipe box that reads, “This is the best recipe!  I made this for the first time in 1997 when we went to Whistler and for each Christmas since.  The aroma is fabulous.  Everyone loves these.”    I remember that trip with my family.  I love how memories are made around food.  These smell amazing and they are delightfully good right out of the oven.

2 C. flour
1 T. ground ginger
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt
3/4 C. white vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 C. sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. molasses
Sugar for rolling.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Do not grease cookie sheets.

In a bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Set aside

In an electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and molasses.  Gradually stir in flour mixture.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 in dough balls and roll in sugar until completely coated.  Place cookies at least two inches away from each other on the cookie sheet.

Bake between 9 to 11 minutes until lightly browned and somewhat cracked looking.

These cookies are great with coffee, cocoa or tea.  Store in airtight containers and enjoy all winter long.


Reese’s Gingerbread Cake with Maple Whipped Cream

Reese’s Gingerbread Cake
with Maple Whipped Cream

This cake is brought to you by my daughter, Reese, age 3.  In order to avoid misconceptions, this cake is not made out of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  It is the product of several weeks of begging to make gingerbread man cookies until she wore her poor mother down and I eventually gave in.  One day I asked her if she would compromise and make a gingerbread cake with me for dessert for a dinner party.  Instead of answering the question, she leapt into the air and squealed with an ear bleeding pitch that is still vibrating off the walls of my kitchen.  With her enthusiasm for gingerbread and her excitement at its zenith, she ran over to the lowest drawer I have in the kitchen and got out her apron, her rolling pin and a garlic press.  The apple does not fall far from the tree.

This cake serves about 6 people.  It’s dark, moist and can be served with several accompaniments.  My choice was maple whipped cream.  Im not talking about the cream from a can, but real whipping cream with a little sugar and a drop of maple extract, whipped until slightly thick. I simply cannot find the words to describe how wonderful this was with a cup of coffee on the side after a very satisfying dinner.  It was the perfect end to a wonderful evening. Sometimes life is hectic and stressful.  I’m convinced it’s these fairytale moments that pull us through it.

You and I are the kind of people who clip the same ‘type’ of recipe until we have about 18 versions of the same thing.  This recipe is a combination of a few gingerbread cake recipes I have saved over the years. I didn’t add cloves because my husband is not fond of cloves, but you can add it, about 1/8 of a teaspoon.  You and I will be making this over and over again.  Let’s get started.

1 C. boiling water
1 C. dark molasses
1 t. baking soda
1/2 C. cold water
2 1/2 C. flour
1 T baking powder
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. salt
1/2 C. shortening
1 C. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs

Ingredients for cake topping
powdered sugar for dusting
1 pint whipping cream
1 T sugar
1 t. maple extract

Directions for cake
In a heat proof bowl (I used a Pyrex), add one cup of boiling water, molasses and baking soda.  Stir until combined.  It will be foamy.  Stir in 1/2 cup cold water.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.  If you are putting in the 1/8 cloves, do it here.  In a separate mixing bowl, mix shortening and brown sugar until well blended.  Beat in eggs.  While mixing on low, add molasses mixture.  Add dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared, 9 inch square baking pan.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove from oven when done and let cool in pan for about an hour and a half.  Remove cake from pan by placing plate or cake stand inverted over top and flip over until right side up.  Carefully lift cake pan.  Serve with maple whipped cream.

Directions for Maple Whipped Cream
In a glass mixing bowl, pour in whipping cream, sugar and maple extract.  Whip with a handmixer until thick.  Do not overmix. 

To prepare dessert on plates, place one slice of cake on plate, dust with powdered sugar, add whipped cream.  Serve.  It’s so good!

Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti with Chocolate Icing

Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti with Chocolate Icing
I make biscotti around this time every year.  It is great to have on hand when you have company and it’s fun to give away.  Maybe you borrowed something from a friend, or they left their casserole dish at your house, or you are leaving dinner on your friends front porch; tuck these inside to let your friends know that you are thinking of them and how thankful you are for their friendship.  At Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can wrap them in cellophane, tie them with a bright ribbon and put them in a basket with a bag of  your favorite coffee and give as a gift.  They’re even fun to make!  You will be surprised how easy they are!
Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti with Chocolate Icing
2 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
1 C. chopped, toasted hazelnuts
1/3 C. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/2 C. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.  Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.  In a mixer, combine eggs and vanilla and beat until blended.  Add dry mixture, hazelnuts, and ginger.  Mix until just combined.  Turn dough out onto floured work surface and work dough into a ball.  Split the ball in half.  Roll each half into a log shape and place each lengthwise on baking sheet.  Press rolls slighty using flat fingers.  Place in over and cook for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Using a knife, cut biscotti crosswise into 1 inch sections.  Turn each on side and place cookie sheet back in oven for another 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to cooling rack.
When biscotti is completely cooled, they will be ready for their chocolate coating.  Take a sheet of wax paper and place it on a cookie sheet*. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips, stirring frequently with heat-safe rubber spatula.  Take each piece of biscotti and dip flat side into chocolate using left hand.  In your right hand, lightly run your spatula down the new chocolate coating and place biscotti chocolate side down on the sheet of wax paper to cool.  To store, put them in the refrigerator in airtight containers or freeze for up to one month.
*The reason you place them on a cookie sheet is so you are able to move them to a place to continue to cool. 

Goodnight Kiss

Goodnight Kiss

If you are looking for something creamy and smooth to carry you off to dreamland, consider indulging in a Goodnight Kiss.  This is a wonderful dessert coffee.  After all, they say Amaretto di Amore’ “embodies the essence of romance.”  With the right combination, the flavor isn’t too sweet, but it is heavenly.  On one of these cool evenings, I encourage you to surprise your sweet one with a Goodnight Kiss.

Picture courtesy Shane Boyd 2009

3/4 oz. Coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

3/4 oz. Irish Cream liqueur
3/4 oz. Amaretto di Amore’
1/2 oz. Creme de Cacao liqueur
1 C. hot brewed coffee

2 T. whipped cream
2 T. Hersheys chocolate syrup

Use one of your most comforting coffee mugs (for me, this is the biggest one I can find).  In it, combine Coffee liqueur, Irish Cream, Creme de Cacao and Amaretto.  Fill the rest of the mug with coffee leaving room at the top.  Dollop with whipped cream and top with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a chocolate covered coffee bean.  Serve and savor the moment.