Ginger Creams are made from a recipe that was given to me by my grandmother-in-law, Shirley. The recipe has been in her family through six generations (Jay is the sixth), and when I pass it on to the bambino, he will be the seventh generation to receive it. If you like gingerbread or molasses cookies, you’ll enjoy Ginger Creams!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about family–Traditions, recipes that have been handed down for generations, homesickness. I suppose with Autumn now officially here, my melancholy has begun to bubble up to the surface. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but from about September on, the truly introspective part of me comes out, and I become all maudlin and sentimental until my SAD fully kicks in, right around Christmas and I sink into despair until about April.
But what does that have to do with anything in this entry? I’d been hounding my poor mother-in-law, Mary, regarding some of her family traditions and recipes, and it got me to thinking about traditions in my own family.
When Jay and I got married, both sides of our families threw me kitchen/recipe showers, which was great. I got a recipe for cookies from Jay’s grandmother that had been handed down for six generations, Jay and I being the sixth. Should the bambino ever resume his interest in the kitchen, I’ll hand it to him and/or his future spouse and he’ll be the seventh. And since I’ve been on a baking/cooking frenzy as of late, I decided to try my hand at Ginger Creams.
It’s an autumn-y dessert. Nothing like a gingersnap–More like a soft, frosted ginger bar/brownie, if you will. I asked Mary what her mother meant when she said to spread the batter into “tins” (which is what was written on the recipe card) and she told me she remembered her grandmother always making her Ginger Creams in a jelly roll pan. So I used a shallow baking sheet, since I don’t have an actual jelly roll pan.
Not really knowing exactly how these are supposed to taste or what they’re supposed to look like, I relied on Jay to give me a yes or no if they turned out okay. I only recall one time that Mary made them for a Sunday dinner dessert, but I do remember the bambino going nuts for them (this was quite a few years ago), and eating 2 rather large squares on his own (I think he was about 2, maybe 3 at the time).
It does make me wish we had a recipe like that in my family. I have my great-grandmother’s shortcake recipe, and at some point, my dad’s supposed to send me one of his grandmother’s coffee cake recipes, but that’s pretty much it. I’m sure there are others out there that go back even farther, but I suspect no one wants to share.
Which is something I just don’t get. I think I’m a little different than a lot of food bloggers–I don’t mind if people use the recipes I post on here. Hell, I want people to read here and then try out stuff I’ve posted! That’s half the point of being a food blogger–Sharing your love of food, of recipe flavors, techniques, the stories behind them.
But all that aside, all I meant was that food should be shared and enjoyed. And the history geek in me thinks it’s pretty cool to have access to such an old recipe (I’d have to dig out the old family tree, but I’d guess it goes back to the early to mid-1800s. I’d have to check with Mary to get a more accurate answer on just how old the Ginger Creams are.
- Butter/shortening, for greasing the pan
- 1 C white sugar
- 1/2 C molasses
- 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 2 tsp. milk
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 3 C all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 C cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a jelly roll or 11x15-inch baking pan.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix in the order listed: sugar, molasses, sweetened condensed milk, baking soda dissolved in milk, then spices and flour. The dough will be VERY thick and heavy.
Using clean, floured hands, pat the dough into the prepared baking pan.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.