Christmas baking: Granola and gingerbread

By Fran DeWine

It’s less than two weeks until Christmas, and time to do my cookie baking. But it’s certainly going to be a different kind of Christmas.

Although we will see a few friends and family, we won’t have any big family gatherings. We know we have to make some sacrifices this year so that we will all be here next year to celebrate! I think we will all appreciate being together all the more next year. But I’m still going to do some baking this year. I’m making little baskets that can just be dropped off. It’s important to let those you love know that you care.

The first cookie I make every year is Gingerbread Kids. I always make some to hang on my Christmas tree. I put them on our first Christmas tree shortly after Mike and I were married, and I’ve tried to do it every year. Mike loves Gingerbread! But this year, when I started to make them, I realized I didn’t have any molasses, so I altered my recipe to just use honey. It’s not the year I want to go to the store to get one ingredient! They are still delicious, and I think the kids will like them better.

Since some of these little gift boxes are going to my older grandkids, I decided to make some different things that they would like, other than just cookies. One thing they love is granola. I have a new recipe that uses honey or maple syrup. It’s good to eat just as a snack or on top of yogurt. It’s gluten-free also, and not as sweet as most I’ve tried. I’ll put it in a little bag all tied up with a red ribbon.

I have a couple of friends and grandkids that are crazy about my Apricot Almond Biscotti so I’m going to make some of that too. I think I’ll finish my basket out with a little bottle of my son John’s maple syrup, and a bag of Maple-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I’d better get baking!

Crunchy Granola

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups chopped nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl add oats, nuts, and cinnamon and stir together. In a small microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, add coconut oil and microwave until melted. Stir in honey or maple syrup and whisk together. Microwave another minute until very warm. Stir in vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients over oat mixture and stir until nuts and oats are entirely covered. Pour granola onto pan and spread out to even layer. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until edges just start to get a little color. Let granola cool completely, and break into pieces.

Gingerbread Cookies Without Molasses

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional)

1/8 teaspoon allspice (optional)

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt, cloves and allspice.

In another large bowl, mix butter and brown sugar. Mix in the honey and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and mix until combined.

Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight (or up to a week).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with Pam.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick.

Cut out the gingerbread cookies using the cookie cutters.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes.

Remove the gingerbread cookies from the oven and sprinkle with white sugar or decorate with icing. (Pierce with toothpick while they are still hot to make hole for hanging).

By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.