Sweet Holiday Wishes

Bake up some whimsy with the kids this holiday season

A little splash of vanilla, mix in some ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and sweeten with the thick and distinct flavor of molasses. Stir it all together with a few more ingredients and you have the makings of Julie Spiller's original Gingerbread cookie recipe. She mixed and baked and tweaked until it turned out "just so!"

Holiday baking holds a special place in Julie's heart. Growing up in Louisiana, memories of her childhood include plenty of time spent in the kitchen. "Every year since I have been little, we'd get together— my mom and my grandmother —and make cookies and goodies. Now, it's carried on with my mom and my daughter, "Julie says.  "I have a whole cookbook of Christmas recipes that have been passed down." She laughs when she shares one of her family's gingerbread cookie traditions. "My mom will make all the gingerbread men to look like our family members!"

Now, as she bakes with her two children, she is always looking for ways to make baking fun and kid friendly. Instead of just focusing on mixing, baking, forming and decking out the traditional gingerbread house, Julie thought of some simpler uses for her perfected gingerbread recipe. That's why she chose these upside down gingerbread men turned reindeer and these oh-so-sweet mini gingerbread houses that sit whimsically on the ridge of your hot cocoa cup.  She says, "This is fun for the kids. I really enjoy making food fun for them. That's what they are going to remember when they get older."

Why not spice up your holidays with a new tradition? Grab your kids and Julie's recipe and deliver up some delicious fun in the kitchen this Christmas.

 

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GINGER REINDEER COOKIES

~Recipe from Julie Spillers

 

INGREDIENTS
½ c. shortening
½ c. butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1-¼ c. molasses
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
6 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ground ginger
3-½ t. ground cinnamon
1-½ t. ground cloves
1-½ t. ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together shortening, butter and granulated sugar. Add the molasses and eggs and whip until light and fluffy. Sift all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl then use a measuring cup to add the dry ingredients about 1 cup at a time. Separate the dough into three equal pieces, cover in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or two. Roll out on floured parchment paper to about 1/4" thick and cut with a gingerbread man cookie cutter. Place the cut cookies in the freezer for ten minutes before baking. Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes for small cookies, 8-10 minutes for medium, and 10-15 minutes for large. Let cool, then decorate! Reindeer face is created with Wilton's dark cocoa candy melt. Melt chocolate according to package directions and place in a piping bag to create antlers. Use mini M&M's in red for the nose, white chocolate chips for the eyes, and white gum drops cut in half for the ears. Accent antlers with clear dusting sugar.

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MINI GINGERBREAD HOUSES

~Recipe from Julie Spillers

INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. gingerbread spice

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour with baking soda. In a pot, heat honey, sugar and spice until mixture becomes more like a liquid. Set aside until slightly cooled. Pour warm honey into flour. Add butter diced into cubes and an egg. Mix thoroughly with a spoon and then knead with hands to form a dough. Feel free to add more flour if needed to reduce any stickiness. Shape into a ball, put in fridge for 5 to 10 minutes. After cooling, remove from fridge, split dough in half and rewrap remaining half. Roll half of dough with a little flour until it becomes roughly 1/8-inch thick. Using template, cut out forms for mini houses, put pieces on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes. Cookies should be golden in color. Assemble and decorate your mini houses with royal icing (recipe below). The icing not only acts as a glue to hold your houses together, you can add Wilton Icing Colors (a concentrated gel coloring) to create colorful mixtures to decorate with. You can store these cookies for up to a week.

ROYAL ICING

3 T. Meringue powder
4 c. powdered sugar
5 T. warm water

Add all three ingredients, whip at low speed until peaks form. After whipped, add icing colors. Add more water to thin if needed.

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HOT COCOA WITH GINGERBREAD SYRUP

SYRUP

1 c. water
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. Lotus Creamy Biscoff Spread (found at Walmart)
In a small sauce pan combine all and bring to a soft boil over medium high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes until thick (like pancake syrup).

COCOA

INGREDIENTS

4 c. milk
1 recipe of gingerbread syrup (mentioned above)
5 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 T. sugar
4 t. chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla

DIRECTIONS
Pour milk into a bowl and microwave for 1-1/2 minutes. Put milk in sauce pan with other ingredients and cook over medium heat. Whisk until almost boiling for about 10 minutes. Remove and serve. Add whipped cream and accent your mug with a fully decked out mini gingerbread house.

 

 

FOR MINI GINGERBREAD HOUSE TEMPLATE: click HERE!

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