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Gingerbread houses are pretty to look at and fun to decorate; gingerbread men are cute and symbolic of the holidays and fun to frost.  But hot water gingerbread makes your entire house smell like Christmas and is fun to eat!  I used to make dozen of gingerbread cookies every year and have some entertaining times attacking them with frosting (who remembers the Business Man?), but no one would actually eat the cookies.  You might brave one or two, soften them up by dunking them in hot coffee or cocoa, but really– they were better as decorations for the tree than as snacks.

So I propose that anyone with a hankering for a gingerbread man try this recipe instead.  It has all the familiar flavors: molasses, ginger, cinnamon.  It is quick to whip up and great for giving; I bought some mini loaf pans and baked up some loaves for assorted friends and family.  For me, this is another nostalgic recipe.  My Mom used to make it, not necessarily at Christmastime but only during the winter months.  I have such fond memories of eating warm gingerbread with my family that when I think of it I get cravings for Cool Whip, which was always served in a dollop on top.  Not real whipped cream– it had to be Cool Whip.  If you know my eating/grocery shopping habits for the last 7 or so years, you know it takes a lot for me to crave non-dairy whipped topping.

Save the gingerbread cookies for house-making and tree-decorating and try this instead!  Make sure to eat at least one piece warm, preferably while listening to some Christmas music with the tree lights lit.

Hot Water Gingerbread

  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening (not butter!)
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • crystallized ginger to garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, at least 3 mins.  Add molasses and beat to incorporate; add egg and beat until mixed.  Sift together dry ingredients; add to molasses mixture and mix on a slow speed while pouring in boiling water.  Increase speed (carefully, to avoid splattering hot water) and mix thoroughly.  Pour batter into prepared pan(s); top with crystallized ginger if you’re using it.  Bake for 35-40 mins., until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, ice cream or Cool Whip, if you like.

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