The Holibaking Season has descended upon our house. The list of treats that I want to make to share with family and friends (and, of course, indulge in a little myself) is rather ambitious this year. That’s how it usually goes… my list starts out modestly – a few old favorites, a few newcomers – and then, the more food blogs I read, the more cookbooks I flip through, and the more Food Network shows I watch, the longer… and longer… my list gets. Most years, I run out of time before I get through my list. But this year will be different. I’ve got a little more time to holibake this year and, by golly, I’m getting through my WHOLE list! (Famous last words, I know.)
In addition to my overly ambitious holibaking roster, I decided that I wanted to enter a few blog challenges as well. Clearly I’ve got the crazy!
First up is this month’s Retro Recipe Challenge, hosted by Naomi over at Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. The assignment was to revisit a childhood storybook published before 1980 and find a way to recreate a dish from that story. I added to that my own personal challenge… I needed to be able to incorporate my dish into my holibaking endeavors. Ah. A real challenge.
Reviewing my list, I tried to find a correlation between something there and something from one of my childhood storybooks. Nothing. But then… I remembered one of the recipes that was on my “standby” list (put aside for the time being while I tried to decide just how ambitious I was feeling this year). Suddenly, one of my standbys was at the top of the list!
But first… the story.
I’ve always loved to read. As a kid, I had two full shelves of various Little Golden Books. I’d read all of them over and over again until I could recite them pretty much line by line. One of my favorites was a story about a little gingerbread man who escaped from the kitchen to embark on an adventure.
“Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
At first the boastful words of the Gingerbread Man prove to be true. No one can catch him, not the little old woman, the farmers in the field, or the gentle brown cow. It’s only when he encounters the wily fox that he meets the fate of all delicious gingerbread men.
And so came my inspiration for this challenge…
One of my favorite gingerbread recipes, one which I’ve had for a number of years, isn’t a true gingerbread recipe at all. I call it my un-gingerbread. It contains no molasses. The super-secret ingredient is, of all things, a box of butterscotch pudding. The cookies can be rolled and cut just like regular gingerbread cookies, and they have much the same color and a similar taste… but they’re a little more mild, which makes them a bigger hit with those who really don’t much care for the “bite” of traditional gingerbread. And? Bonus! I don’t have to keep molasses on hand!
These little guys won’t jump off your cookie sheet and go gallivanting around the neighborhood, but they’re quite the charming little cookie… perfect for gift giving, or sharing over a good book with your favorite kid, or leaving out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
1 (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. (The dough might look a little dry and crumbly. If it does, get in there with your hands and you’ll see it come together a bit.) Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into shapes (man, star, tree… whatever!) using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Decorate if the mood strikes!