"Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"
Whether or not you decorate gingerbread cookies in the likeness of your guests, as did Elizabeth I in the 16th century (creepy or cute?), spicy gingerbread is one of the iconic tastes of the holiday season. With its distinctive blending of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice or cloves, gingerbread has an unmistakable warm and spicy flavor that makes everything it touches that much cozier. And if you're like many of us, when gingerbread season hits, you just can't get enough.
Here are 12 holiday gingerbread treats to help you scratch your gingerbread itch—from our favorite holiday-cookie-person treat to a host of creative ways to eat gingerbread 24/7 in many different forms.
Flavor Tip: Cinnamon, clove, and especially nutmeg are at their flavorful best when freshly crushed and ground the day of preparation. Time is a thief when it comes to these spices, and you'll be sure to notice the difference between freshly ground and not. Grating nutmeg is a breeze, but if grating a cinnamon stick or grinding cloves sounds like a bit much, just give your ground spices the sniff test—if you can't smell them, they're too old to give any flavor and you should replace them for a fresher batch.
12 Favorite Holiday Gingerbread Treats
Let's start with the gingerbread treat most people think of when they think of gingerbread. (Obviously, gingerbread men don't hold a monopoly on gingerbread shapes—you can bake gingerbread women, children, creatures...there's no limit to the cookie cutter shapes on the market.)
Seriously though, this one comes with a warning about the difference between deeply flavored blackstrap and milder varieties of molasses. Recipe originator Stephanie Schneidewind strongly prefers the milder kinds.
Get tips to make the best gingerbread cookies, and watch the video below to see how to work the dough:
With a drizzle of this frosting, the sweet and spicy flavor of gingerbread graces any number of baked treats.
"This is a really nice alternative to a typical vanilla glaze." said CC<3's2bake, "I have made this recipe many times as it has so many good uses, and I'm always asked for the recipe. I would recommend at least doubling the recipe as it only makes about 1/4 cup."
Looking for a recipe that will fill your home with holiday cheer well before you even take it out of the oven? Look no further. We're not sure if this recipe is as old as the mid-15th-century recipe for "gyngerbrede" discovered in an old English cookbook manuscript—but we know it has many of the classic spices most people love in gingerbread, and that it smells heavenly while baking.
Bear in mind with this as with all gingerbread recipes—molasses matters. Personal preference varies, but as reviewer dee dee points out, there can be big differences in molasses. Unsulphered molasses is the sweetest, while blackstrap molasses has a stronger, more herbal flavor.
A big, hot mug of coffee or tea and few of these gingerbread biscotti will make it easy to ward off riskier holiday indulgences. As they say, "if you can't drink all day, don't start in the morning!" Of course, if you want to up the ante, feel free to decorate with as many chocolate drizzles and sprinkles as you can fit on a slice.
Recipe originator brewmama-4 wraps these bars individually and freezes them for a ready-to-go breakfast or snack. These granola bars are sweet and somewhat indulgent, so you really couldn't go wrong if you served them alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Hey coffee drinkers! Want to get all that festive holiday flavor without spending a bundle at that hipster coffee shop? This is the ticket.
Allstar France C. gives it five stars: "So easy to make and way more cost-efficient than those pricey coffee house drinks!"
Eggnog and gingerbread get layered together for a crowd-pleasing dessert that combines two of the season's favorite flavors. The magic combo certainly worked for home cook ogshortey, who says, "This recipe is excellent! I made this for a holiday potluck and took home Best Dessert prize!"
We LOVE the story behind this highly rated recipe—Iron Chef Grammie to the rescue!
"My dear Grammie was making gingerbread one morning and my brother and I arrived, starving! She altered the recipe slightly, put it on the grill and the result is this delicious recipe," writes recipe originator CKINCAID1. "The smell of it cooking always takes me back to that morning—mmmm!"
The desired result with this recipe is something gingerbread-flavored and exponentially better than, but of similar consistency to, a Twinkie. That can be a tall order from the home baker, so take it from Chef John:
"It is critical to weigh the flour for this recipe to work as seen in the video. Ten ounces by weight is about 2 cups by volume, but because flour can become quite compressed in the bag or canister, portioning by cup is not very accurate."
Check out the video below to see how to make them:
Wanna further the dialogue and spark a meaningful family debate this holiday season? Skip the current events and settle this one: are these waffles dessert for breakfast or breakfast for dessert?
Santa just might circle back for breakfast if he finds out these are on the menu. Evan Shaw-Mumford says, "Great recipe! Fun to make, smells and tastes incredible, and my family loved it." How about some maple bacon to go with?
12. Children's Gingerbread House
No gingerbread list would be complete without an iconic gingerbread house. It takes a fairly sturdy gingerbread recipe to make the kind of dough that bakes up something you can build with. This video shows you how to make the dough, cut it out into building pieces, bake them, and build a house.
Give yourself two or three days to bake, build, and decorate the house—you'll need time to let the icing firm up as you build. And yes, the house is completely edible.
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