home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Visions of sugar-plums and the enticing aroma of gingerbread baking in the oven make holiday traditions come alive for friends and family. While the candy-studded gingerbread house is a charming favorite, gingerbread can be fashioned into all sorts of fanciful creations, even a gingerbread sleigh dashing through candy snow.

The kids will delight in becoming Santa's helpers when it comes time to decorate the sleigh. The result makes an impressive centerpiece with bags of gourmet jelly beans nestled inside as if delivered by Santa himself. A full-sized pattern for the sleigh is available at www.jellybelly.com or www.grandmamolasses.com.

This holiday season there's a shortcut to the fun with a single gingerbread recipe that takes on many forms and flavors. Especially welcome is a recipe that can be made ahead and refrigerated for later baking and decorating. Gingerbread pairs well with chocolate, coconut or raspberry jam filling in cookie bars. Let the festivities begin.

Gingerbread Dough (Master Recipe)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Grandma's Original Molasses
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Stir flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt together in small bowl. Stir molasses, sugar and shortening together in large bowl. Stir in water (mixture may curdle). Stir in flour mixture. Form into disk shape, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes one small gingerbread house or one 10-inch sleigh. For Chocolate Gingerbread Dough, add 1/4 cup baking cocoa to flour mixture.

Snowcapped Gingerbread Rounds

1 recipe Gingerbread Dough
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flaked coconut
4 ounces Jelly Belly jelly beans in red apple, apricot, kiwi and coconut flavors

Prepare Gingerbread Dough. Chill. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Press dough onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan with floured fingers. Stir together condensed milk, egg and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Stir in flaked coconut. Spread over dough. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until tips of coconut are golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into circles with round cookie cutter and decorate with jelly beans. Makes 20 to 24 rounds

Gingerbread Circle of Friends

1 recipe Gingerbread Dough
1 recipe Chocolate Gingerbread Dough
Prepared vanilla frosting
8 ounces Jelly Belly jelly beans and holiday candies

Prepare Gingerbread Dough. Chill. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease 2 baking sheets. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on floured surface. Cut with 5-inch gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters, and smaller 2-inch cutters for kids. Using spatula, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set. Let stand 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate with jelly beans and holiday candies using prepared frosting in tube to attach candies. When frosting is set, arrange cookies in circle with heads toward center, overlapping and attaching hands with frosting. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Linzer Jam Bars

1 recipe Gingerbread Dough
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, stirred to soften

Prepare Gingerbread Dough. Chill. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Thinly press 2/3 of dough onto bottom of pan with floured fingers. Bake 10 minutes. On hot dough, spread softened cream cheese, then raspberry jam. Roll remaining dough into 1/4-inch-thick logs on lightly floured surface and place in diagonal pattern over filling. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 24 bars.

Sugarplum Sleigh

2 recipes Chocolate Gingerbread Dough
Prepared vanilla frosting or royal icing
16 ounces Jelly Belly jelly beans in cinnamon, green apple and coconut flavors
16 to 32 ounces Jelly Belly jelly beans, white Dutch mints or other white candy beans
8 to 10 (2-inch) cello or organza bags
16 to 20 ounces holiday candy to fill bags

Prepare Gingerbread Dough, reducing water to 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon. Shape into 3 disks, cover and chill. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 baking sheets. Roll each disk into sheet large enough to accommodate template (available at www.jellybelly.com or www.grandmamolasses.com). Cut dough using template, one right side up and then flip template over to back side to make a second sleigh side in a mirror image. Transfer to baking sheets with spatula. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with jelly beans, candies and prepared frosting. When frosting is set, turn sleigh sides upright and attach bottom and back using prepared frosting. Allow frosting to set. Set sleigh on platter, then sprinkle white candies around sleigh. Fill with bags of holiday candies.


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