I hope the holiday season has found you healthy, happy and surrounded by your loved ones. I have been enjoying the company of my three nephews and my niece over the past couple of days and hope to get in one more marathon-play session before I head back to work on Tuesday.
In the middle of decorating trees, tossing festive salads and wrapping gifts I found a little time to complete this month’s baking challenge:
The December 2009 Daring Bakers‘ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
To make my gingerbread house a little extra special I decided to attempt a raw version.
The decorations are not elaborate and the icing certainly isn’t a masterpiece of intricate design. But, the flavours were fantastic and it the architecture maintained its integrity for a couple of days-which is my measure of a good gingerbread house.
In order to fit this challenge into my busy December schedule, I decided to be creative with the food I had on hand to create the house and its decorations.
For the Gingerbread:
1 cup of almonds
3/4 cup pitted dates
2 tbsp cup grated ginger
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch sea salt
Soak almonds overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the almonds. Soak the dates for 1 hour, then drain and rinse them. Add all of the ingredients to your food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Add water if needed. Spread it out very thin on a Teflex sheet and dehydrate for 24 hours at 110 (flip half-way through). When you flip the pieces score the Gingerbread pieces using a dull knife (this will make it much easier to pull apart later). When the pieces are hard remove them from the dehydrator and let them cool.
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
2 tbsp cashews
1 tbsp agave syrup
Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Add extra agave if needed to achieve the ideal thickness for spreading.
For the decoration I use dried mango, dried dragon fruit, raisins, shredded coconut and bananas. The gingerbread had a crisp texture and a strong ginger bite. Although, the banana in the frosting makes it turn a little grey by the second day the flavour it still divine. Feel free to skip the banana and use more cashews if you would prefer a frosting that will still aesthetically impress even after a few days.
To accompany the fiery, gingerbread pieces I whipped up a raw gingerbread ice cream. The molasses are essential for the nostalgic flavour but not a raw ingredient, so exclude it if you don’t consume anything cooked above 118 degrees.
Gingerbread Ice Cream:
2 1/2 cups cashews
2 tbsp cashew butter
2 cup water
1 cup medjool dates
3 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp clove
1 tbsp molasses
pinch of salt
Soak the cashews for four hours, rinse and drain. Combine all of the ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn for about 25 minutes. Enjoy right away or store in an air-tight container in your freezer.
Then invite friends over to devour your house. Reward them for the successful demolition with a scoop of gingerbread ice cream. I look forward to what the Daring Bakers have planned for 2010.