For fun and flavor, make it a holiday full of ginger

“An I had but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.”
— William Shakespeare, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’

Gingerbread is the quintessential treat for the holidays. A Christmas without this seasonal delight is like New Year’s without bubbly.
Whether your sugar-and-spice and candied-sweet vice comes in the form of the adorable Gingerbread Man, decorated cookies, crispy snaps, rich dark loaves or an enchanting gingerbread house, you’re in for a divine sensory experience.

Catherine L. Kaufman

Catherine L. Kaufman

The blissful aroma will pull you into the heavenly blend of flavors that’ll hook you for good. (Although, I must confess I do feel somewhat uncomfortable, even cannibalistic, when chowing down on a leg or an arm of the Gingerbread Man!)

Historically speaking
Gingerbread is an old soul, around since the days of Ancient Greece and Egypt where it was used for rituals and religious ceremonies. Food folklorists believe the 11th century crusaders imported the culinary novelty to Western Europe via the Mediterranean. A popular treat in medieval Europe for festivals and fairs, the gingerbread had romantic and superstitious connotations as Ladies gave their Knights in shining armor a piece for good luck in battle (and secretly ate a “Gingerbread Husband” for wishful matrimonial thinking).
Germany was also a big fan of gingerbread cookies aka Lebkuchen, a staple at street festivals, while the gingerbread houses were all the rage following the publishing of the Brothers Grimm tale of “Hansel and Gretel” who stumbled upon the witch’s candy cottage.
As for the creation of the Gingerbread Man, Queen Elizabeth lays as solid a claim as any, presenting to visiting dignitaries baked gingerbread replicas of themselves.

On the local homefront
Americans have been enjoying the spicy delight for two centuries, while George Washington’s mom was known for baking batches shaped like diminutive kings and eagles.
In these parts, Old World Flemish baker Francois Goedhuys of Girard’s Gourmet in La Jolla whips up from scratch non-discriminatory Gingerbread Men and their female counterparts with wheat flour, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, of course, all beautifully decorated with glossy icing. The master baker customizes the decorations, and will even write personalized names on the gingerbread people to use as creative (and tasty) place-card settings for holiday tables.

Village Mill Bread Company in Carmel Valley bakes both large gingerbread figures (6-inches long), along with little people, tree ornaments, snowmen, stockings, bells, dreidels and menorahs (for Chanukah) in both gingerbread and sugar cookie doughs. They also sell undecorated versions along with colored frostings and pastry bags to jazz up at home.

Cupcake Love in Solana Beach offers Gingerbread Man cupcakes topped with vanilla bean whipped cream and miniature gingerbread cookies as flavor of the month for December.

Starbucks does a riff on the treat with a gingerbread loaf spice cake smothered in sweet cream cheese icing and candied orange peel. You can then wash it all down with gingerbread latte — a blend of espresso, steamed milk and gingerbread syrup topped with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.
As for gingerbread houses, The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego is the creative architect behind the 19th annual Gingerbread City Gala and Structure Competition, with the theme “Myths and Legends,” hosted by the Grand Del Mar Nov. 29. It’s a charity extravaganza unparalleled in magnitude on the West Coast. There are two categories — grand and petite — with strict rules and high stakes, including $2,500 first prize in the grand category.

Gingerbread People Cookies

Ingredients
12 ounces unbleached flour
6 ounces brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons molasses
4 ounces butter (softened at room temperature)
1 large egg
Raisins, currants, chocolate chips or gum drops for decorations

Method: Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer blend flour, butter, spices and baking soda until crumbly. Add sugar, molasses, and egg until a smooth pastry dough forms.
Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick on a floured board. Cut out shapes with favorite cookie cutters. Decorate facial features with currants, chocolate chips or candies. Gingerly (ha, ha) transfer cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool and decorate with icing, if desired.

Related posts:

  1. Kitschy cocktails salute Halloween and a decade of Kitchen Shrinking at the La Jolla Light
  2. Breakfast’s an epiphany, so discover marvelous morning meals
  3. Go wild for National Blueberry Month!
  4. In La Jolla, it’s lobster tales and other fish stories for National Seafood Month
  5. Go Green with a cup or two of these crazy March sips

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=98116

Posted by Staff on Nov 27, 2012. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Kitchen Shrink. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Man pleads guilty in fatal Del Mar hit-and-run case April 17, 2014
    A man who drove drunk and struck a marine biologist in a crosswalk in Del Mar, then fled the scene, pleaded guilty April 16 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a hit-and-run allegation. Christopher ``Chip’’ Stockmeyer, 41, faces between nine and 15 years in prison when he is sentenced June 20 for the March 28 death of Rachel Morrison. […]
  • Del Mar Powerhouse 10U Champions April 17, 2014
    The Del Mar Powerhouse 10U team played two pool play games and two elimination games to go undefeated in the Triple Crown Sports San Diego Open and win the Division 1 Championship. The boys showed great determination and fight to come away victorious in elimination play and battle for the win with a one-run margin of victory for both semi-final and champions […]
  • Canyon Crest girls crack top three at Arcadia, set new school record April 17, 2014
    Several young women runners from Carmel Valley high schools raced well in the Arcadia Invitational on April 11-12 in Los Angeles. Arcadia is considered to be one of the most competitive high school track and field meets in the country, drawing both national and international athletes to compete. […]