You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread butter (cream)
So, I know that you have probably heard of cookie butter. Biscoff brand is the most famous that I have heard of. But have you heard of gingerbread butter? I hadn’t – until now!
This year at Christmas my daughter and I were making mini gingerbread houses, and I had extra gingerbread dough left over. It wasn’t the gingerbread dough that you make delicious cookies out of – it was the construction type gingerbread (we used the King Arthur Flour version). If you didn’t already know, this kind of gingerbread isn’t all that delicious to eat – it’s meant to be sturdy and smell good, but not so much eat with your coffee or cocoa.
I don’t like to waste stuff – especially baking stuff – but I knew I didn’t want to make more gingerbread houses (11 was enough, let me tell you), so I was thinking about what could I do. Separately from the mini houses I had been testing out a new yellow cake recipe and it had just emerged from the oven, so it was time to think about what kind of filling/frosting it should get. I thought of the gingerbread… thought of the smell… thought – wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to have gingerbread flavored frosting?? I bet a gingerbread butter could make that a reality, I thought. And that was where my idea was born – in my kitchen, with me sitting on a yoga ball.
I knew a friend of mine used cookie butter in her buttercream and raved about it. I thought – well, I could just grind up gingerbread crumbs and put them in the buttercream? I imagined (rightly so) that the texture would be offputting. So.. I went to Google. I searched for gingerbread cookie butter recipes – found none. I then looked for cookie butter recpies and read through a bunch, and found they were all pretty similar – grinding up cookies and adding coconut oil or vegetable oil. I figured I could adapt what I had learned from these recipes and develop my own.
Art meets science
I imagine that all recipes are inspired by something – by another recipe, by an ingredient, by a smell, or just wanting to create. In cooking – making up dishes on the fly, changing recipes mid saute is not problem. In baking, oftentimes we are discouraged from improvising because the science behind the ratios in recipes are vital to success. What I love about this gingerbread butter is that it is a combination of cooking and baking. It satisfied both sides of the brain, giving you some freedom in exploring how you want things to end up.
This is all to say that my recipe below is a guideline. What I really want to share is the technique and the ingredients I used to achieve my goal.
I took my leftover dough and rolled it out about 1/8″ thick and baked it according to the recipe instructions. I left it in the oven a bit longer than normal, just to make sure the cookie dough was hard, and not at all soft.
Once the cookies were cooled, I broke them into pieces and put them in the food processor and pulsed them until they were pulverized. Some of the pieces were so hard they just didn’t break up, so I just removed them before the next step.
I put the crumbs in a pan over med-low heat and added the molasses and water and stirred until everything got moistened. What you want is a wet sandy look, so adjust as needed. I then added the coconut oil, and spices and stirred some more. This is where you have to taste it. In the case of the recipe I was using, I felt it needed more help in the cinnamon and clove department. Your gingerbread recipe might need more of another thing – it really just needs to taste like gingerbread to YOU.
At this point, I have found, after trying it a couple ways, that you have a choice. You can blitz it with an immersion blender to get it super smooth, or leave it. If you leave it, it just has a slight grainy texture, but barely. Think natural peanut butter (but not the Teddy’s kind.) If you’re going to use it on toast, it probably doesn’t matter if you blitz it or not. For buttercream, you might want to, especially if you want a totally smooth texture and mouthfeel.
That’s it. Seriously. That’s the gingerbread butter.
Put it on pancakes…whip it into butter, stir it into your oatmeal… seems to me you have a lot of options. However, I put it into a batch of delicious swiss meringue buttercream (see the recipe I use here, just only use 1lb of butter and don’t brown any). However, I think perhaps browned butter gingerbread buttercream might be DELICIOUS!!! If you try it, let me know!
I bet you can imagine what came next:
No, not really. I whipped up (literally) the buttercream, and after the stage at which you add the vanilla, I added the gingerbread butter, a couple of tablespoons at a time. I really didn’t know how it would go, so I went slow. As they always say in cooking – you can always add, but you can’t take away. However, I ended up using the ENTIRE batch.
The buttercream was smooth and redolent of all the spices that make you think of the holidays. I put it on a yellow cake, but I think it would be delicious on chocolate cake, or a spice cake for a double hit. Oooh – maybe on carrot cake? Wow… the wheels are turning. I hope you try this out – make you own and tell me about it. Oh – and a very happy holiday season to you all. Wishing you joy and peace and a safe and happy new year!