Gingerbread Cake

While peppermint gets all the glory as the flavor of the holiday season there is another flavor that is just as popular… Gingerbread. And while you may only think of houses and cookies when it comes to gingerbread, it’s also a great flavor for a holiday themed cake.

So, what exactly is gingerbread flavor? Well, it’s a combination of spices – ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon – and usually sweetened with molasses. I honestly think it’s the molasses that gives gingerbread it’s distinct flavor more so than the spices.

To make things a little easy I used a spice cake mix as the base for my cake and then added in some additional spices, molasses and other ingredients to doctor it up. I got the recipe from fellow blogger Baking with Blondie. She made cupcakes with her recipe whereas I opted to use the recipe to make 2 6-inch cake layers. Once they were cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them overnight before frosting. Frosting cold cakes is a lot easier than frosting cooled, but still room temperature ones.

I left the cakes in the refrigerator overnight and before removing them I made a Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting. This frosting is so good I could eat spoonful’s as dessert!

Once the frosting was ready I torte the cakes and filled and frosted them with the frosting.

And finally, I decorated the cake with gingerbread men (you could bake them or, do as I did and use store-bought ones), fresh rosemary and sugared cranberries.

Gingerbread Cake with Spiced Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup sour cream

2/3 cup buttermilk*

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 box spiced cake mix

For the Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 8oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Gingerbread Men, Fresh Rosemary Sprigs, Sugared Cranberries for decoration

*I made my own by combining 2/3 cup whole milk with 3 teaspoons of white vinegar. Stir together and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. It will begin to curdle when ready.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 6-inch pans with baking spray and set aside.

To make the cake: In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the cake, except the spiced cake mix, and stir together until well combined. Sift the cake mix into the mixture and stir all the ingredients together until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Using a hand mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and heavy cream. Continue mixing and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly combined.

Torte the cooled cakes and then frost about a cup of the frosting on one of the cakes. Stack the other cake on top and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then use the remaining frosting to finish frosting the cake. Decorate with gingerbread men, sugared cranberries and fresh rosemary.

Recipe from Baking with Blondie

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

12oz. bag fresh cranberries

Directions:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cranberries until well coated. You will want to work fast as the cranberries may begin to burst.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to a parchment lined wire rack to dry for at least an hour.

Pour the remaining sugar into a bowl. Once the cranberries are dry work in batches to coat the cranberries in the sugar. Transfer to a clean piece of parchment paper and let the cranberries dry for at least an hour.

Pumpkin Spice Molasses Cookies

Here it is… Another pumpkin recipe! I have a dear friend who loves pumpkin flavored items as much – or maybe more – than I do. We actually text each other pictures of the different pumpkin items we purchase during our grocery or Target runs. Imagine if we lived closer to one another; we would probably have pumpkin flavored taste testing get-togethers for all the different things that have hit the shelves over the past couple of years. She let me know about Pumpkin Spice Milanos – if you haven’t tried them, they are a must – and I told her about Chobani’s Pumpkin Harvest Crisp flip yogurt – once again a must try for anyone who is a fan of pumpkin. So, with all this love of pumpkin it should be of no surprise that when I saw Nestle Toll House’s Pumpkin Spice Morsels in a supermarket circular I knew I had to have them. I got ahead of myself before even trying them and bought a package or two (okay, it was three.) Luckily though, those three bags will be put to good use as the morsels are good enough to eat as candy but are even better when baked into a cookie. Specifically the cookie recipe that was included right on the bag. So, in actuality I am now down to two bags. I have had these morsels for a few weeks now but waited until now to use them as I planned (and did) to send some of them to said friend.

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To make the batter for the cookies I began by creaming together butter and sugar in the bowl of my stand mixer. I then added in pumpkin, molasses, an egg and vanilla extract and continued mixing until the ingredients were blended together. In another bowl I combined flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Once the pumpkin mixture was well blended I gradually added in the flour mixture and finally stirred in the pumpkin chocolate chips. I then covered the dough and refrigerated it for at least an hour.

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Next I used a cookie scoop to scoop out the dough. I shaped the dough into a ball and then rolled it in sugar and then placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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After baking them in a 350 F oven for eleven minutes, until the tops began to crack and the edges were set, I let them cool on the baking sheets and then transferred them to a wire rack so they could cool completely.

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I then packed some up to send to my pumpkin-loving friend as part of her birthday gift and of course kept a few for myself. And how do they taste? Delicious! They sort of reminded me of a gingerbread cookie, I am sure that’s due to the addition of molasses. And in case you are wondering, rolling the cookie dough in sugar prior to baking them doesn’t make them overly sweet. I was a little concerned about that while making them.

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Pumpkin Spice Molasses Cookies

  • Servings: 36 cookies
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Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 1/3 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 10oz. bag Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice Morsels

Directions:

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat 1 cup of the sugar with the butter until creamy. Add in the pumpkin, molasses, egg and vanilla extract, continue beating until well combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture and then stir in the morsels. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Use a cookie scoop (or scoop tablespoonfuls of dough) to scoop out of the dough and then shape them in a ball and roll in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Nestle

Gingerbread Men

So, I have a confession to make, prior to making these cookies I had never had a gingerbread cookie. I’m not really sure why that is. Possibly because it’s never been the cookie I reach for when I see a platter of assorted holiday cookies and also I had never tried baking them. This year though I decided to add it to my holiday baking.

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I began these cookies by sifting together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice into a bowl.

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In another bowl I first mixed together melted butter and shortening, light brown sugar and molasses and then added in an egg.

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Next I beat the flour into the molasses mixture.

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Once the dough came together I divided it in half and wrapped it in plastic wrap and patted it down to about 1/2 inch and refrigerated it. While the recipe stated to refrigerate it for at least 2 hours I ended up refrigerating it overnight and just let it sit out for a few minutes before rolling it out.

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Once the dough was soft enough to roll, I rolled it a 1/4 inch thick and began cutting out some gingerbread men.

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After placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet I decorated them with some mini M&M’s and round sprinkles.

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I then placed the cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 10 minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Then the fun began, well, that depends on whether or not you like to decorate cookies. I’m still on the fence about that one. I made a batch of royal icing and gave my Gingerbread cookies some faces and some squiggles!

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So, did I enjoy my first Gingerbread cookie? Well, yes and no. With my first cookie I thought the flavor was an acquired taste. The molasses was really standing out to me, but, the following day I tried another one and I definitely had other sentiments about it. It’s tasty but not something I could have two or three of in one sitting as with other cookies.

Perfect Gingerbread Men

Makes 2 to 3 Dozen Cookies

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon shortening, melted

2/3 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup molasses

1 egg

Directions:

1. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice; set aside.

2. In another bowl mix together the butter, shortening, sugar and molasses, then beat in the egg. Beat in the flour mixture in two additions. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to 1/2 inch thick. Chill 2 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. On a floured surface roll out each piece of dough to 1/4 inch think, dusting with flour if needed. Cut into 3-to-5-inch gingerbread men and arrange 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Brush off the excess flour and chill 15 minutes.

5. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, then decorate.

 

Royal Icing

Ingredients:

1 lb. box on confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoons meringue powder

5 tablespoons water

Directions:

Whisk the sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add the water and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft glossy peaks form, adding up to 1 more tablespoon water if necessary. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap until ready to use to prevent the icing from drying out.