Many of the flavors we use in baking are calm, mild flavors. Pumpkin is an earthy, mild flavor. Peaches and pears are mellow. Even apples—once you get past the tart apples like Granny Smith—are sweet and mellow. Bananas are mellow.
Contrast these mellow flavors with tart flavors like raspberry or lemon. These are bold, pronounced flavors. Tart flavors are more popular.
So how do I add zing to mellow flavors?
We found some terrific candy ginger pieces, tiny and sweet, soft and not hard. We tried them and we loved them. Soon we were adding little ginger pieces to cookies and cakes.
That was several months ago. Since then we have made hundreds, maybe thousand of cookies, and dozens of cakes with these ginger pieces. We’ve paired candied ginger with different flavors and with varying intensities. With the best combinations, we developed new recipes and mixes.
We’ll share what we’ve learned.
Melded with mellow flavors, bright ginger pieces give flavors a spark just as ascorbic acid does in lemon, raspberries, and cranberries. A burst of ginger accents the flavor and makes it more pronounced. We loved the transformation.
The trick is balance: Keep the ginger in the background—don’t let it dominate. Though there is quite a margin of error, that balance may take some trials.
What Can I Put Ginger in?
You can put ginger pieces in cooking as well as baking. We only know about ginger in baking.
Try candied ginger in cakes, cookies, muffins, and scones as well as in many desserts. In my research, found bread recipes with added ginger so apparently ginger is compatible with yeast. So I’m anxious to try breads with candied ginger. I’m envisioning a dark molasses bread with candied ginger and a touch of orange. But that’s for another day and another post . . .
The question is, what flavors go well with ginger.
The flavors mentioned above go well with candied ginger: pumpkin, peaches, pears and apples. Pineapple does well. We made a great cake with pineapple, candied ginger and cinnamon chips.
How much ginger depends on how strong the dominate flavor is and how much in the background you want the ginger to be.
Here are two examples from our test kitchen that will give you some parameters to work with. The first has 1/2 cup candied ginger for each cup of flour. The second has 1/3 cup for each two cups of flour.
Ginger Pear Cookies
We made a drop cookie recipe with candied ginger and golden raisins. After several trials, we switched to dry pear pieces which is a milder, more sophisticated fruit. It made a great tasting cookie but it wasn’t formal and attractive enough. So we switched to a hand-formed cookie–made round balls and placed them on the cookie sheet. These were just right.
Pears are mild. Too much ginger and you overwhelm the pears and have nothing but a gingersnap. We used just over a cup of ginger for two cups of flour, more than a 1:2 ratio. I was surprised we could use that much ginger but it speaks to how mild candied ginger can be. The cookies do have a little kick reminiscent of gingersnaps but the pear does come through.
We used much less in a carrot cake recipe. Carrots in a cake have almost no flavor. They add moistness and sweetness. We used only 1/2 cup in this recipe with about three cups of flour. So the ratio was 1:6. The ginger was nearly unidentifiable. You could taste the background spice but until you had a burst, it was hard to identify as ginger. It was a great cake and did not taste like gingerbread.
What You’ll Need
• Candied ginger
• Dry Pears
• Vanilla Bean Baby Cakes (The mix we made carrot cake with. See the recipe.)
Mixes with Candied Ginger You may be interested in
|Try this “show stopper” with candy ginger, cinnamon chips and over ¼ pound of pears.
With the perfect balance of ginger and pear, serve these to family and friends. These delightful cookies always impress.