Baking season: From ginger to family recipes, we give ideas
Sprinkle a liberal dash to cookies, candy and holiday cocktails.
Christmas baking is known for a few staples — roll-out sugar cookies, fruitcake, gingerbread houses — but not much that deeply inspires me as a baker. So this year, I decided to go beyond the stale house covered in old candies and discover what else ginger has to ofier.
Year-round, I enjoy snacking on candied ginger and drinking bottle after bottle of strong ginger beer for the exciting taste and alleged health benefflts. I often fflnd myself looking at purchased products like candied ginger, wondering how hard it really would be to make them in my home.
The process of candying ginger — peeling, slicing, cooking, coating and drying the ginger — turned out to be time-consuming, but not at all difficult. If you don’t mind (or like me, absolutely love) the bite of ginger, the candied pieces make for a delightful, addictive snack.
If those are too strong for your tastes, you can use the ginger for your favorite holiday recipes — a soft, sweet ginger cookie gets spiced up when you add chopped crystallized ginger. Or, you can take a simple pound cake, vanilla frosting and mix it up with the candied ginger, cover it in dark chocolate and sprinkle more ginger on top for ginger pound cake balls.
Both recipes surrounded by sparkling pieces of crystallized ginger make a beautiful addition to any holiday party or Christmas dessert table. They also can be packaged in cellophane bags or gift boxes for an impressively tasty present.
If your friends are the DIYtypes, you can include directions on how they, too, can candy their own ginger.
If you’re working last minute, you can fflnd crystallized ginger at most grocery stores. One benefflt to candying it yourself is the ginger syrup that results — you can use this for a sweet kick in holiday cocktails or cocoa, or add some seltzer for homemade ginger ale — a great remedy for tummy troubles that pop up after holiday overeating.
An easy trick to peel ginger is to use the edge of a spoon. Just place your thumb on the back of the bowl of the spoon, scraping the outer layer of the ginger away from you. Ginger, as a root, is fairly tough, so with this method, you boil the slices twice before candying to tenderize. 1 lb. fresh ginger, peeled cups sugar,plus about 1/2 cup for coating Pinch salt
Slice ginger thinly and place in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer ginger for 10 minutes. Use a strainer to remove ginger and discard the water. Refill the pot with fresh water and repeat this step.
After the ginger has been boiled twice and drained, add sugar, 4 cups water and pinch of salt to the pot with the ginger slices and cook for about an hour over medium heat, or until the liquid is the consistency of thin honey. If you have a candy thermometer, cook until the temperature reaches 225 degrees.
Remove from heat and strain the ginger, reserving the ginger simple syrup for another use, such as ginger ale.
Toss the drained slices in a shallow bowl filled with about half a cup granulated sugar. Shake off the excess sugar and spread ginger pieces out in a single layer on a cooling rack. (I used a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper) Leave out to dry overnight. You can store the candied ginger at room temperature for a few months.
Note: Store the ginger simple syrup in the fridge for up to three months. You can sweeten tea or other drinks with the syrup. To make homemade ginger ale, add four tablespoons of ginger syrup to a large pint glass and top with seltzer or other sparkling water. — Adapted from a technique on DavidLebovitz.com
Ginger cookies can be good for gifting.
Candied ginger adds flavor and variety to your Christmas dessert table.