Make way for the gingerbread man.
He’s cute, not so cuddly, but very sweet. And he comes in with a bang each holiday season— taking his rightful place in millions of bakeries and kitchens across the globe.
In fact, no confection represents the holidays quite like gingerbread in its various forms, from beautifully decorated houses and cookies to frosted cakes and loaves like the one we sampled at D’Orsi’s Bakery in Peabody. The Gingerbread Construction Co. in nearby Wakefield has even made it a business to handcraft gingerbread houses, muffins, loaves and cookies year-round. Because of its close proximity to Route 128, the Wakefield shop (and main construction site) quickly became the more popular of the company’s two locations, growing to four times the size of its original Winchester shop. It’s become a popular destination spot, particularly this time of year, for many North Shore natives.
So how did something deriving from the ginger root (not an obvious ingredient for desserts) get so popular around here?
You’d have to ask the original settlers. Gingerbread actually arrived in the U.S. with the first colonists, bringing recipes with them from Europe. George Washington’s mother was said to have developed a recipe for gingerbread cake in 1784. Queen Elizabeth I, who had gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her important guests, has been credited with the invention of the gingerbread man. And gingerbread houses gained even more popularity after the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel” in 1812. Amazingly enough, our love of the spiced ginger-honey-molasses treat hasn’t dwindled in the nearly five centuries since the first gingerbread man was served.
But even more surprising is that the true foundations of gingerbread most likely originated centuries earlier in the Middle East, and might even go as far back as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Safe to say, gingerbread won’t be going out of style anytime soon.
Sip and savor.
While the pumpkin spice latte has become somewhat of a phenomenon in recent years— and arguably one of the more anticipated things about the fall season (because, let’s face it, we need something to look forward to as we’re putting those beach chairs away)—don’t be fooled that the demand for holiday beverages diminishes once those annual Starbucks red cups get released. As November rolls into December, the gingerbread latte quickly becomes the most requested beverage. And new this year, baristas also recommend ordering their holiday spice flat white with gingerbread syrup. But, you can also make your own gingerbread latte at home—and save a few precious dollars for the holiday gift fund.
Here’s how to make it:
- Make the gingerbread syrup by combining 2 cups of water, 1.5 cups of granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Using an espresso machine (or an espresso K-cup in your Keurig) make a double shot of espresso. Use the machine to steam 8 ounces of milk, or heat up the milk on the stovetop.
- Pour half a cup of espresso into a 16-ounce cup. Add a quarter of a cup of your gingerbread syrup (and you’ll have enough left over for six drinks), followed by the steamed milk. Stir.
- Top off your latte with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.