Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Gingerbread

December 26 is the day our family traditionally exchanges gifts with DaddyBob's side of the family.  We pile ourselves and all the presents into the car, drive over the hill from San Jose to Santa Cruz, CA, and enjoy a day of food, games, and presents with our cousins, Uncle S, and Aunt M, who you know from Becky's lovely post on her pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

This year though, Mama B and DaddyBob came out to NYC to celebrate Christmas. So when Becky and I got a package from Aunt M a couple weeks ago with a gift that said "open me now," we were delighted to find a bag of crystalized ginger; we could make our own batch of Aunt M's Gingerbread to enjoy in NYC.

Before I get into the recipe though, a little reflection about one of our other aunts on DaddyBob's side...

Aunt S loves to spoil her nieces and nephews. As a kid and teenager, opening Aunt S's gifts was always an amusing activity. Every year I got at least one piece of jewelry - but not jewelry from Claire's or any store in the mall. Nope, this was interesting, one of kind jewelry that Aunt S got from various crafters or through her antiques business. I always opened these gifts with a smile, but as a young teenager, I was definitely thinking, "Oh gosh, some more weird jewelry from silly Aunt S..."

When I got home, I promptly put that jewelry in my jewelry box, I guess.

Well, later has arrived and now that jewelry from Aunt S is the jewelry I wear the most. I wear that jewelry so often that if that jewelry stood in a lineup with other random jewelry, my friends and coworkers would be able to identify it no problem. I wear it because it's sophisticated and artsy and classy and unique. It's not that I wasn't grateful for those gifts when I opened them, I just wasn't old enough to appreciate them. Funny how growing up changes your perspective, right?

Well, this gingerbread from Aunt M is kinda like that. It's always been a staple on Aunt M's holiday treat tray, but I can't say I fully appreciated it until a couple years ago - my palate simply wasn't sophisticated enough to enjoy it's spicy richness.

All I can say now is, I'm glad Aunt M sent enough ginger to make multiple batches, because that's exactly what I've done. The recipe is super easy to put together and tastes and smells incredibly festive.  It's not as molasses-y as some other gingerbreads, so if the molasses taste of gingerbread has kept you away in the past, this is the recipe that should call you back.

Aunt M, Uncle S, and you two no-longer-so-little cousins - we miss you and wish we were spending today with you, but know that we're thinking of you out here while we're buried in snow and enjoying this gingerbread.

And Aunt S - if I haven't said it before, thanks for all that "weird" jewelry :-)


Christmas Gingerbread
adapted slightly from Aunt M's recipe

1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp chopped crystalized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8" round cake pan. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and ground ginger in a medium bowl.

2. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in dark brown sugar, corn syrup, and crystalized ginger. Mixture will still be very crumbly.

3.  Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, then cut into wedges or squares.

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