Northwest NEWS

December 3, 2001

Home & Garden

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Dining In: Gingerbread for the holidays

Gingerbread Master Recipe
   1/3 c. molasses
   1/4 c. packed brown sugar
   2 Tbsp. shortening
   3 Tbsp. cold water
   1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1/2 tsp. baking soda
   1/2 tsp. ground ginger
   1/4 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. ground allspice
   1/4 tsp. ground cloves
   1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
   2 tubes (.68 oz. each) decorating icing
   Jelly bellies: red apple, kiwi, lemon, coconut and candy cane flavors
   Confections and candy to decorate
   Stir together molasses, brown sugar and shortening in large bowl. Stir in cold water. Stir in flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Use dough as directed in one of the variations below. Decorate with icing, gels and candies.
   To save time, double the recipe and freeze half for later use.
  
   Gingerbread People
   Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. Make dough as directed in master recipe. Roll dough 1/8-inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. To hang cookies as decorations make hole in each cookie 1/4 inch from top with end of plastic straw. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely. Decorate as desired. Store in airtight container. Do not stack decorated cookies.
  
   Gingerbread House
   Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 13x9x2-inch rectangular pan. Make dough as directed in master recipe. Press in pan. Bake about 15 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool 5 minutes; turn upside down onto cutting surface. With sharp knife, cut angles from 2 corners of rectangle to form roof of house; trim remaining edges to straighten if desired. Reserve corners for use as supports for back of house. Cut openings for windows if desired. Cool completely. Decorate house front as desired; let dry. Attach supports to back of house with decorating icing.
  
   Chocolate Christmas Trees
   One 12x4-inch styrofoam cone
   Aluminium foil
   4 bags (13 oz. each) chocolate kisses, wrapped in green red and silver foil
   Glue (low-heat gun, non-toxic craft glue, glue stick or confectioners' glue
   Toothpicks
   Bow
   Ice cream cones
   Cover foam cone with foil. Decorate cone with green foil-wrapped kisses by gluing flat side against the foil covered cone.
   Use the remaining red and silver kisses to decorate the tree. Insert one end of a toothpick into the side of each kiss; insert each other end into the foam cone, filling in the gaps between the green foil kisses.
   Place a cheerful bow at top of tree. Glue remaining kisses to ice cream cones to create your fantasy forest.
   Prepare safe confectioners glue by whisking together 4 tsp. powdered egg whites (meringue powder) with 1/4 c. water until completely dissolved. With mixer, beat in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar until thick and smooth.
  
   Homemade gifts that say Happy Holidays
   Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies
   (cookie mix in a jar)
   3/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1/2 tsp. baking soda
   3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
   1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
   1/3 c. raisins
   1-1/4 c. quick cooking oats
   1 c. cinnamon chips or semisweet chocolate chips
   Use a clean 1-quart glass jar with tight fitting lid. Stir together flour, baking soda and granulated sugar; pack into bottom of jar. Layer and pack with brown sugar, raisins, oats and cinnamon chips in that order. Cover jar; attach card with the baking instructions.
   Baking Instructions:
   Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon contents of jar into large bowl; break up any lumps with wooden spoon. Add 1/2 c. (1 stick) softened butter, 1 lightly beaten egg and 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract; beat with spoon until well blended (batter will be stiff). Drop by rounded tsp. onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies.
  
   Easy Chip and Nut Gift Bread
   2 c. all-purpose flour
   1 c. sugar
   1 tsp. baking powder
   1 tsp. salt
   1/2 tsp. baking soda
   1 c. applesauce
   1/2 c. shortening
   2 eggs
   1 c. cinnamon chips or semisweet chocolate chips
   1/2 c. chopped walnuts
   Powdered sugar (optional)
   Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease four 5-3/4 x 3-1/4 x 2-inch mini loaf pans.
   Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, applesauce, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Beat on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Stir in cinnamon chips and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely. Sift with powdered sugar.
   Makes 4 small loaves.
  
   Secret Almond Kiss Cookies
   36 chocolate kisses with almonds
   1 c. (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
   1/2 c. granulated sugar
   1 tsp. vanilla extract
   1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1-1/4 c. finely chopped slivered almonds
   1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
   Powdered sugar
   Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from kisses. Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and almonds; beat on low speed of mixer until well blended.
   Using about 1 Tbsp. dough for each cookie, shape dough around each kiss; roll in hand to make ball. (Be sure to cover each kiss completely.) Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
   Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set but not browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. While still slightly warm, roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container. Roll again in powdered sugar just before serving.
   Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
  
   Merry Chocolate Nut Clusters
   1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
   1/2 c. white chips
   1 Tbsp. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)
   2-1/4 c. (11.5 oz. pkg.) lightly salted peanuts, divided
   Place chocolate chips, white chips and shortening in small microwave safe bowl.
   Microwave at High 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Reserve 1/4 c. peanuts for garnish; stir remaining peanuts into chocolate mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls into 1-inch diameter candy papers; top each candy with a reserved peanut.
   Refrigerate. uncovered, until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Store in airtight container in cool dry place.
   Makes about 3 dozen candies.
  
   Tuxedo Brown Hugs Cookies
   60 ' Hugs Chocolates
   1 package (1 lb. 6.5 oz.) original supreme brownie mix with syrup pouch
   1/4 c. ' Cocoa
   1/4 c. water
   1/4 c. vegetable oil
   2 eggs
   1. Remove wrappers from hugs. Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
   2. Stir brownie mix, pouch of syrup, cocoa, water, oil and eggs in medium bowl until well blended. Crop by scant teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.
   3. Bake 8 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes. Press a hug into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.