Christmas spice cinnamon cloves nutmeg and ginger

The spices of the season include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. They are fragrant and exotic and anything made with them smells of Christmas. You may already have heirloom recipes for gingerbread, or Dutch Spice Cookies (otherwise known as “speculaas”), but the Chai-Spiced Pound Cake here may be new to you.

 

The recipe, which comes courtesy of our friends at King Arthur Flour (www.Kingarthurflour.com), calls for either three tablespoons of their chai spice, or a mixture of six separate spices that you can add on your own. At less than seven dollars for a generous three-ounce jar, the cost and convenience could make chai spice your newest pantry staple.

While the cakes and cookies pictured today have been fashioned in nice-to-own specialty bake pans and cookie molds, you can still achieve attractive results without them. For instance, in place of a detailed cookie mold, Dutch Spice Cookies may be attractively stamped with the decorative bottom of a drinking glass. And, as far as Bundts and gingerbread goes, an icing or glaze serves as delicious enhancement, especially when made with cream cheese or brewed flavored tea.

It’s Christmas, and I hope yours is sweet – filled with sugar and spice and everything nice.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Spicy Gingerbread

Yield: 1 (9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf, 1 (13 x 9 x 2-inch) cake, or 24 medium-sized muffins

 

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2¾ teaspoons King Arthur Flour gingerbread spice blend, or the following spices:

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsulphured molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup boiling water

2½ cups all-purpose flour

(measure flour by spooning into measuring cup, then leveling off with the flat end of a knife)

2 large eggs, well beaten

Creamy Cream Cheese Icing, optional (recipe follows)

 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, mix the sugar, salt and spices on medium speed. Lowering the speed, add the oil and molasses, mixing until well blended.

Pour the boiling water into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Stir in the soda and immediately add to the mixture in the mixing bowl. On low speed, add the flour in ½-cup increments, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the eggs, mixing until blended.

Pour batter into a lightly greased pan, and bake as directed below:

 

• For 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

• For a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

• For 24 muffins: fill paper-lined muffin wells ½- to ¾’s-full, and bake for 20 minutes.

Recipe may be halved to make 12 muffins.

 

 

Creamy Cream Cheese Icing

Yield: About 1¾ cups

 

1½ cups confections’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoon butter, softened

4 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

Milk, as needed

 

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese with sugar on medium speed. Lower speed, add vanilla and enough milk to make a thick, creamy icing.

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

Yield: 1 (9- to 10-cup) Bundt cake

 

16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

¼ cup honey*

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons King Arthur Flour chai spice blend, or the following spices:

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

¾ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground coriander

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 cup sour cream or yogurt, full-fat preferred

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Heat the oven to oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- or 10-cup Bundt-style pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and chai spice blend (or spices).

Stir in half the flour, followed by the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla and finally the remaining flour. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition.

Thoroughly grease a 9- or 10-cup Bundt pan. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to finish cooling. Cool completely before slicing.

*Kitchen Ade note: Sugar in the Raw liquid cane sugar may be used in place of honey in this recipe. Also, I like the cake iced with a glaze made with confectioners’ sugar and brewed chai tea. To make the glaze: place 2 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add enough brewed chai tea (I used Bigelow brand) to make a glaze of pouring consistency to spoon over cooled cake. Allow glaze to set before slicing cake.

Dutch Spice Cookies

Yield: 2½ to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size of mold

 

1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

3½ cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (to measure flour, dip measuring cup into flour, then level off with the flat end of a knife

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¾ teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ginger

 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour with baking powder, salt and spices; set aside.

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with sugar on medium speed. Lower speed and add flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, to the creamed mixture, mixing until well combined.

Using enough dough to make golf-ball sized balls, place balls about 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a cookie mold (or the bottom of a glass with a decorative bottom), flour the mold and press the dough balls evenly until you feel a little resistance coming from the mold or glass. (Be sure to flour the mold between pressings to facilitate the release of the dough from the mold.)

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are very light brown around edges. Cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed tin for up to 1 week.

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