It’s baking season, and time to stock up on holiday spices, especially ginger.

Nothing compares to ginger for Christmas flavor, aroma and warmth. Ginger is a rhizome, or underground plant stem. According to McCormick, the company’s ginger is grown from roots planted before monsoon season begins on land off the Malabar coast of India. Nine months later, roots are harvested by hand, washed and dried in the sun.

Historically, ginger was used for medicinal purposes throughout Asia and the Roman Empire. In King Henry VIII’s 16th century, exotic ginger was used to ward off the plague.

Queen Elizabeth I is credited with inventing gingerbread men during her reign, and by the 19th century, the spice was sprinkled on top of beer or ale and stirred into the beverage with a hot poker.

Today, this warming spice is popular in holly, jolly holiday dishes like these Gingerbread Men Pancakes, Gingerbread Whoopie Pies filled with lemon cream, Gingerbread Cookie Butter and Slow Cooker Gingerbread Oatmeal.

Gingerbread Men Pancakes

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose baking mix, such as Bisquick

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon Gingerbread Spice

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Lightly beat egg in medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients; mix until well blended. Set aside.

Spray inside of 4-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter with no-stick cooking spray. Place on preheated lightly greased griddle or skillet. Pour scant 1/4 cup of batter into cookie cutter. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbles begin to form on top of pancake. Carefully remove cookie cutter with tongs. Flip pancake. Cook 1 to 2 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 3 servings, 2 pancakes each.

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Lemon cream:

1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon lemon extract

Garnish: 1 cup crushed peppermint candies

For Gingerbread Whoopie Pies, mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Meanwhile, for Lemon Creme, mix marshmallow creme, butter, cream cheese and lemon extract in medium bowl until well blended. To assemble whoopie pies, place about 1 tablespoon filling on flat side of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, pressing gently to spread filling. Repeat with remaining cookies. Roll edge of cookies in crushed candy. Store whoopie pies between layers of wax paper in airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days. Makes 30.

Gingerbread Cookie Butter

8 ounces gingerbread cookies, about 8 (3 1/2-inch long) cookies

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pulse cookies in food processor until resembles fine crumbs. Add sugar; pulse until just blended.

Heat oil and water in small saucepan on low heat until coconut oil is melted. Slowly add oil mixture to processor while pulsing. Add vanilla and spices; pulse until just blended.

Slow Cooker Gingerbread Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats

3 cups milk

3 cups water

1 tablespoon McCormick Gingerbread Spice

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

Spray inside of slow cooker with no-stick cooking spray. Mix oats, milk, water and gingerbread spice in slow cooker. Cover. Cook 8 hours on LOW. Stir in brown sugar and molasses. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

Recipes are from McCormick

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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