Screw the Gingerbread Man

triple ginger cookies
Did everyone have a lovely weekend? Did your weekend include anything fantastic or earth-moving, like getting a brand new front-load washer and dryer that makes little musical sounds (rather than deafening buzzes) when a cycle is complete? How about rockin’ out for two nights straight to the Beatles Rock Band with your hubs? Hmmmm…. did you make any cookies?

Clearly, you have some catching up to do. And while I can’t buy you a new washer or teach you to play the guitar on expert (because really – who does that? oh right – me!), I can give you a virtual shove in the general direction of your kitchen. Because, for the next week or so, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I will lure you with cookies.

bucket o' cookies

Is it working yet?!

ginger cookies, among others
What about now?

Alright. Let’s start with my favorite, and if you act right (as my mom used to tell us in the k-mart – “Straighten up and act right!”), I’ll give you some more. But since I’m callin’ the shots around these parts, I get first pick – and I’ll pick one of my favorite things in the whole wide world – GINGER.

ginger cookie batter

And these ain’t your average break-a-tooth gingernap or tastes-like-cardboard gingerbread man cookies. These here are, for lack of a better term, too legit to quit. Yeah – you know a girl is not to be reckoned with when she breaks out the Hammer lyrics.

Not just one, not even two, but three – count ’em, three – types of ginger. You’ve got the crystallized pieces, which I was lucky to even have since I seem to pluck cubes to snack on as if they were m&m’s, and then you’ve got the fresh ginger root, shaved from the nubbly rhizomes via microplane, and last but not least – the traditional, the it-can’t-be-a-ginger-cookie-without-it, ground ginger. Can we say trifecta, friends?

Then, THEN, you take all this lovely lovely gingery goodness and you add to it, light and dark brown sugar and molasses (molasses!), among other things. Kids, it don’t get any better.

ginger balls

Weeeeeelllll, maybe a little better, if you’re into getting your hands coated in ginger cookie batter… Are you in? You roll lil’ tablespoons of dough into balls and – whoa Nelly – you roll said balls into……..sugar! Absolutely brilliant. And easy as, well, easy as making cookies on a chilly Sunday afternoon.

Want more cookies? Can ya handle more cookies? Alright then – prove it. I’ll let you run the show for a change: leave a comment (don’t be shy, first-timers) and put in your vote for round 2: chocolate-cayenne, peppermint-white chocolate, or clementine-cardamom.  

 

Triple Ginger Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2009; makes ~50
[cookies should keep at least 4 days if stored in airtight container]

printable recipe

ingredients
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c minced crystallized ginger
2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 c (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 c (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1/4 c molasses (Grandma’s preferred)
2 t finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/3 c sugar, use raw/turbinado if you have it

instructions
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, crystallized ginger, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer or stand mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in both brown sugars. Beat on med-hi speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, molasses, fresh ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just to blend between additions.

Place 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl. Measure 1 T dough. Roll into ball between palms of hands, then roll in sugar in bowl to coat; place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until surfaces crack and cookies are firm around edges but still slightly soft in center, about 12-13 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on rack.

Advertisements

Marmalade & The Rainbow

gingerbread cake with marmalade filling

If you know anything about Scottish pop, you may have heard of a band called Marmalade. They’ve been compared to the Beatles (?), but mistakenly covered a pretty popular Beatles song back in the day, which turned out to be their biggest “hit”. Hence the reason they never became too popular. They do have a handful of good songs though – “Reflections of My Life”, “Carolina on My Mind” (which I’m quite sure was a James Taylor original and thus another cover song), and a little diddy called “Rainbow”. Though you may have initially thought so, this post is NOT about that band OR that song. Sorry Scottish pop lovers. But here’s a picture of them just in case you really are beat up about it:

 

marmalade the band

Sexy eh?

 

What this post is about is marmalade and a little about rainbows.

After my Sunday adventure making soup, I stole a quick peek outside to check on the weather. Rainy Sundays sure are icky. But in Chicago’s early March, it’s always nice to have one more excuse to stay indoors. Of course, the rain continued to pour down and I found myself wondering when, or if, there might be a rainbow at the end of the nasty storm. You know, a little bright end to the day. No such luck – so rather than waiting for a happy ending in a glimmer of sunlight, I decided to create my own. Cake. Cake with Coconut and Ginger. Cake with Orange Marmalade.


Tropical Gingerbread Cake
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Printable recipe

ingredients
Cake:

Cooking spray
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar, divided
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 T finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 large egg yolks
2 T molasses
3/4 c light coconut milk
4 large egg whites

Frosting
3 large egg whites
Dash of salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c water
1/2 t vanilla extract

Remaining ingredients:
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

 2. To prepare cake, lightly coat 2 (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray.

 3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk.

4. Place butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with coconut milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Place 4 egg whites in a large, clean bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

6. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Pour batter into prepared pans.

7. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

8. To prepare frosting, place 3 egg whites and dash of salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy using clean, dry beaters. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg white mixture, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.

9. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with marmalade and 1 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake; sprinkle top of cake with toasted coconut. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

At first I was a bit concerned about my gingerbread cake, as the layers were a little crooked. I can’t say that I’ve ever made a cake with “uncrooked” layers though, now that I think about it. After the first taste, I knew I was being silly. It was dense for cake with egg whites, but full of flavor. If you don’t like ginger, you wouldn’t like it though. Since there’s fresh ginger in it, you get a nice fresh taste of it every so often. And the coconut on the outside has a lovely crunch that almost melts in your mouth with the soft fluffy icing.

In addition to absolutely loving this cake recipe, what also made me post this story is a discussion I heard on NPR. I recently started plugging in my iphone on the commute in an attempt to smarten up and listen to the news. Of course I managed to find an NPR podcast about food. So much for listening to news… ! The segment today had a brief tidbit on marmalade. Of all things, a lovely ingredient that just happened to have found its way in to my cake! Apparently marmalade sales have seen an 8% decline over the last year. What is that??!!! Why oh why would someone stop buying marmalade? I must say I was a little saddended by that fact. But on the other hand, I knew I wasn’t one of those losers contributing to the decline in sales. Who are these people and how do we stop them??!

Take home message: Buy some Smucker’s Orange Marmalade (or make your own) and make this cake! You’ll be glad you did. I sure am.