The boys and I spent yesterday afternoon at the home of our friends, the Cooke family. Dave Cooke is our local United Methodist pastor. He lives nearby with wife, Heather (the hostess with the mostest), and son, Ben (who says some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.)
Heather bravely invited my entire crew and two other families with young kids to make, ice and decorate gingerbread cookies. To help you understand why I say ‘bravely’ I will make the situation a little clearer. Myself and my five sons, ages 11, 8, 6, 5, and 3 along with two other mothers and their children, ages 6, 2 and less than one year old as well as Heather and Ben (also 3 years old) were all flinging cookie dough, royal icing, jimmies, dragees, cinnamon candies, chocolate chips and M&Ms all over her kitchen. She deserves a Medal of Honor.
A few hours later, we toddled home with three plates full of extremely generously iced gingerbread cookies. (Giving a pastry bag full of royal icing to a three year old is not entirely well thought out as far as ideas go…) We also went home with Dave’s grandmother’s gingerbread recipe. Dave’s grandmother had 8 kids and compiled a collection of recipes that were not only delicious but were also family friendly. According to her instructions, this particular gingerbread dough was exceptionally good for kids to work with because it was moldable and was not terribly sticky. I’ll second that! The kids treated it like playdough. They rolled it, mashed it, squished it between fingers, shaped it and occasionally cut shapes. It all baked up like a dream.
I put Dave’s grandma’s recipe to another test today. I made some grown-up gingerbread cookies; Gingerbread Biscotti. After baking, I dunked them in a little melted white chocolate, and tapped them in pie plates filled with crushed toasted almonds and finely chopped crystallized ginger. They were delicious. And they were also pretty and unique enough to be Foodie Gift #9.
Gingerbread Biscotti with White Chocolate and Toasted Nuts or Crystallized Ginger
Aside from the obvious change of baking this as biscotti rather than cookies I did tweak the amount of ginger called for in Dave’s Grandma’s recipe. The original recipe has a very mild ginger flavor and I was going for a big punch here. You can, if desired, use her called for half teaspoon, if your tastes run more to the mild. If you decide to do gingerbread men or cookies, this should be your go-to recipe as well. Simply roll out, bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes on greased cookie sheets, and cool completely before icing. Yum. Thank you, Dave’s grandma, for the heritage of tasty food you passed to your family!
- 3 cups sifted flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon warm water
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped (or white chocolate chips)
- 1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger together. Set aside. Stir together melted butter, molasses, brown sugar, water and egg in a large mixing bowl. Add flour and stir until all the dry flour disappears and you get a smooth dough. You may need to use your hands to work the dough together at the end.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, use your hands to form the dough into a loaf approximately 9″ long by 5-1/2″ wide by 2″ thick.
Place on center rack in oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until the gingerbread loaf is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Move loaf from pan to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to slice the loaf into 12 slices of approximately 3/4″ thick along the long side. Carefully move the slices, cut side down, back onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned, and remove from oven. Move biscotti to a rack to cool completely.
While biscotti is cooling, put chopped nuts in the bottom of a pie plate. If using the crystallized ginger, put those in a separate pie plate.
Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% power for about 30 seconds. Remove from microsave and stir until the bowl no longer feels warm. Continue to heat at 50% powder in 15 second increments until the white chocolate is smooth.
Working with one cookie at a time, dip the long, flat side of the biscotti in the white chocolate then hold over the bowl to allow excess to drip off. Dip the chocolate edge in either the chopped nuts or crystallized ginger and then move back to the parchment lined cookie sheet to set up.
When cookies are set up, move all but one of them to an airtight container. Take the remaining biscotti, along with a cup of strong tea or coffee, to your favorite chair with a book. Dunk the cookie. Eat. Relax.