Of all Christmas baking projects, I look forward to making gingersnaps. I love the rich, earthy flavours of ginger, cinnamon and molasses together with a warm cup of tea on a cold blistery day. Plus, unlike seasonal baked goods such as fruit cake or Christmas pudding, most people like the taste of a ginger cookie throughout the year. Reinventing traditional holiday baking to be enjoyed all winter long is straight forward when you use classic ingredients including ginger, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried apricots, chopped mint and cinnamon. And it is simple with Canadian Prairie Garden Purees to add winter vegetables to the recipe line up. Pureed beets, butternut squash and sweet potato make your winter baking delicious and nutritious anytime.
Chef John Placko, Culinary Director of Modern Culinary Academy and Culinary Consultant to Canadian Prairie Garden (CPG) recommends, “For a delicious cold set red velvet cheese cake, just substitute 1/3 of the weight of the cream cheese with the CPG white bean puree in the recipe. You won’t be able to taste the difference, and the texture is fabulous while giving you more protein and less fat than using all cream cheese.” This cake is a crowd favourite and can be a featured at Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Now that you’ve perfected the cheese cake, it’s time to start reinventing another sweet seasonal delight, the brownie. It is effortless to customize the brownie to a season or holiday with additional ingredients and festive decorating. Chef Placko describes how easy it is to add CPG pureed beets to chocolate brownies, “Just reduce the number of eggs you use by one and add 125 grams (1/2 cup) of beet puree. It’s that simple.” Chocolate brownies make an easy dessert for many occasions and are one of the most well-liked sweets in North America. Now this much-loved treat has an extra antioxidant punch from the pureed beets!
It’s tradition to leave Santa Claus a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. Wouldn’t he be pleasantly surprised to find CPG sweet potato or butternut squash purees added to those cookies? Chef Placko explains, “Adding winter vegetable purees to cookies increases their nutritional value but also makes them very moist and flavourful. Using parsnip puree is an option too, as it keeps the colour of the cookie neutral, if that is an important factor in the recipe.” Once you have the base cookie, you can be creative with your other ingredients including dark chocolate mini chips, dried mango, shredded coconut and maple syrup to match the occasion over the holidays. I think the sweet potato puree would be a wonderful addition to my gingersnap cookie recipe!
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a recipe from Chef Placko ideal for Santa with a glass of milk and delicious to enjoy over the rest of the winter.
Spiced sweet potato cookies
Makes 22 cookies
66g butter unsalted
45g white sugar
80g brown sugar
236g sweet potato puree
230g all purpose white flour
3g baking soda
0.6g ginger ground
8g baking powder
80g pecans chopped
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2) Combine sugars and butter until fluffy. Blend in egg and sweet potato.
3) Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and all the spices.
4) Blend dry mix into the butter, sugar, egg, sweet potato mix.
5) Fold in the raisins, pecans.
6) Spoon mix onto a greased cookie sheets, 2-3 inches apart.
7) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the "Pod to Plate" Food Consultant, collaborates with the food and nutrition industry across North America.