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July 10, 2007

Crystallized ginger (Recipe: kicked-up gingerbread)

Updated October 2010.

Kicked-up gingerbread

What's in a name?

Something called candied ginger wouldn't make it into The Perfect Pantry -- after all, do we really need candy? -- but give it a more serious-sounding name, crystallized ginger, and I'm only too happy to make room on the shelf.

Crystallized ginger, sweet as candy.

Crystallized ginger is fresh ginger that has been peeled, cut into small knobs, boiled in sugar and water, and then rolled in sugar crystals. It retains the pungent flavor of the fresh ginger rhizome, but the bite is counterbalanced by the sweetness of the sugar. It's easy to make, and also easy to purchase online (I go to Penzeys or King Arthur Flour) or in your local Asian market or supermarket baking aisle.

Stored in an airtight container, crystallized ginger will keep for up to two years. If it clumps or the sugar on the outside of the individual pieces begins to deteriorate, the ginger has passed its prime and should be replaced.

My husband has been known to eat it like candy, straight out of the bag, and it's often prescribed for everything from motion sickness to morning sickness. Most people, however, use crystallized ginger to bake wonderful treats, and I do that, too.

Kicked-up gingerbread

Kicked-up gingerbread

Among my friends, I'm known as "she who should never be asked to bring dessert." I am not ungenerous; I'm a bake-o-phobe. So when Betsy and Rob came for lunch a couple of weeks ago and I needed to make a dessert to follow a light meal, I dug deep in the pantry and came up with this quick cake. Add a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt on top. Serves 9.

Ingredients

1 box whole-wheat gingerbread mix
1 heaping tsp powdered ginger
1-2 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch baking pan with baking spray. In a large bowl, make the gingerbread mix according to package directions. Stir in powdered and crystallized gingers, and mix well. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Ginger-apricot biscotti
Kate's ginger shortcakes
Chocolate double ginger cupcakes
Spicy peanut noodles
Pomegranate-orange-ginger shrimp

Other recipes that use crystallized ginger:
Summer cherry and crystallized ginger crumb bar, from Cookin' Canuck
Crystallized ginger cookies, from Alpineberry
Pumpkin white chocolate chunk and candied ginger blondies, from Picky Palate
Coconut ice cream with crystallized ginger, from Pink Bites
Ginger scones, from Homesick Texan

Comments

I love crystallized ginger they really add a kick to cakes and even ice cream. The sound of the gingerbread sounds great too!

I love those!!! I use Buderim brand ones, available in UK. I had to buy two extra packets when in Scotland in June, as I haven't been able to source them locally here, and I use them a lot. There are always some in our "nut bowl" on the table, and they go well with rhubarb & strawberries & apples. Just add a spoonful or two into cakes & muffins & cookies etc..

Why should one have to bake when there are so many good bakeries around? Professionals, nonethless?
I bake cookies at Christmas and have been known to make the occasional Crisp, Crumble or sweet bread...
This I could do - I love gingerbread (I can make that, too!) and with the candied (oops, I mean crystallized) ginger...yum!

Ginger flavoured baked goods are one of the few things I don´t like.But candied ginger straight out of the box I adore. mysteries.

I make a little snack of a dried apricot, a sliver of brie cheese and a knob of crystalised ginger.

Great post, I had no idea that crystallized ginger could be used for medicinal purposes. After reading your post I went online and found out that it also quenches thirst, revives, excites the brain, and in old age awakes young love again! Who knew?

I'm with your husband on this one. Straight out of the jar!

I always have fresh ginger on hand but not crystallized; I think that will change now. :)
I'd love to see your Penzey's Market too.

Meeta, it's great with ice cream, isn't it?

Pille, I'm not much of a baker, so I use this to dress up simple recipes (and, yes, even mixes from a box!). Nice idea to have it in a nut bowl.

Katie, as you know, I'm not much of a baker, either, so this recipe is as fancy as I get! Give it a try.

Lobster, we all have our foods that we like in one form and not another. I like peanut butter in spicy Asian sauces, but can't stand to eat it right from the jar. Raw carrots vs. cooked carrots. Fresh strawberries vs. strawberry ice cream....

Barbara, what a terrific idea. I'm going to borrow it!

ATB, I had no idea about the old age/young love powers of crystallized ginger. Hmmmm, how shall I check this out???

Christine, go for it!

Susan, Penzeys is opening stores all around the US now. The closest one to me is in Boston, so, Rhode Islander that I am becoming, I pretty much shop online rather than making the big trek! (You know how we are about travelling....)

Crystallized ginger is always a great addition to gingerbreads! Love it. I took a huge bag of it when we went sailing across the Atlantic . . . it really does help.

Lydia, not until very recently had I tried crystallized ginger and I fell for it - so delicious!

Here's a quick warm weather dessert: 1 1/2 lb. green grapes cut in half, 1 pt sour cream, 2 tbsp brown sugar or to taste, 1/4 lb crystallized ginger. Mix all and refrigerate.

It's funny, I'll eat up extra helpings of fresh ginger when I eat sushi but I gag at the thought of eating crystallized ginger. It's very strange because I absolutely love the flavor of ginger in baking or sauces for entrees, but something about the sweetness and the texture of the crystallized stuff just irks me. Thanks for this entry!

Oh yummy! I think you'll be asked to bring dessert more often now!

"she who should never be asked to bring dessert." Hahahahaha!!!

I really like gingerbread, one of my favourites :)

Tanna, I know other people who've used this for motion sickness -- seems like such a sweet solution for discomfort!

Patricia, what's not to love?

Pauline, yum!

Hillary, we need to get you together with Ximena from Lobstersquad -- she's just the opposite!

Kristen, I'm actually making dessert for a dinner tonight -- a bowl of cut-up fruit topped with lemon sorbet. See, no baking!

Kelly-Jane, really, I am the girl who never wants to bring dessert. Fruit salad is my specialty!!

Well I am glad to see your vote for Hodgson Mills- I've always wondered if their mix was any good. Btw, I am amazed to find you are a bake-o-phobe. I was convinced there isn't anything you can't do. I still am- anyways.

We always bring some ginger candy in our road trips. A nice alternative to coffee, to perk us up during the especially long drive. I wonder if these crystallized ginger will be too sweet to eat straight off the pack? Hmmmm....

i too am a bake-o-phobe. i'm not sure what i find so terrifying about it- but when i started cooking, i could only afford so many things and baking always seemed to require so many more tools and gadgets and specific pans. it didn't seem like it would be a smart investment! but my mom is going to teach me how to make her famous pies this summer. so i'm going to try!

Callipygia, you are a sweetie! There are so many things I can't do -- and I write about them all the time! I like Hodgson Mills, and especially this mix because it's whole wheat gingerbread, but still fairly light.

Tigerfish, if you ask my husband, he'll say that it's definitely not too sweet to eat right from the bag...

Stacy, for me I think it's the measuring that I find intimidating. I'm not the most precise cook, and in baking I'm always afraid of altering the chemistry if I don't measure correctly. Glad you are going to take on pies this summer -- maybe you can teach me....

Ooh wait! I've never made anything with crystallized ginger. If you can make gingerbread with it, I'm assuming you can make ginger snaps with it too?

You reminded me of a bag that is in need of use in my pantry! I wish you could come and organize my pantry, as a matter of fact ;-)

My Nana loves crystallized ginger but I have never been able to develop a taste for it. Nevertheless, I loved learning about how it is made! I didn't know any of that. :)

Lydia, the cake mix you mentioned sounds good. I wish we had it here in Australia. When I'm short of time, I don't mind using good quality cake mixes and adding my own twist to it like you did with this recipe. Since I love ginger, I am certain that I will love this cake.

Christine, yes yes yes! Trader Joe's (a very cool supermarket here in the US) makes a triple ginger cookie with fresh, dried, and crystallized ginger. It is so good!

Bea, I will come and organize if you will teach me how to take photographs one-tenth as beautiful as yours!

Ari, thanks -- I love crystallized ginger when it's baked, but I can't eat it straight from the bag. Too sweet for me.

Nora, I'd never have admitted to using a cake mix until one day, a couple of years ago, when a pastry chef told us in a dessert class that she uses gingerbread mix all the time! All of a sudden I felt that I had "permission" to take an occasional shortcut. It was so liberating.

Maybe I'll be ordering some too. Would you believe I went to two different markets today to buy crystallized ginger (after reading your post) and they were both sold out!

Susan, could it be that we've started a crystallized ginger stampede??? It's great that good quality food products like this are available online!

I've been meaning to pick up some of this for my pantry too. Maybe I'll order some from Penzey's. :)

i love crystallized ginger :) and i eat it plain too hehehe, here it comes in coin-shaped slices, the size of a US quarter, never seen it crumbled like in your pic :) so funny the differences :D mmmm ginger .. :)

I'm way behind on my blog reading I can tell. Just thought I would confess that (even if it wasn't for my diet) I'm also a huge bake-o-phobe. Too much trouble if you ask me.

Amy, I like the Penzeys ginger because it's already on the way to being chopped for baking! Of course it tastes good, too.

Trini, I also see it here in the disk shape. Good either way, as long as it's fresh.

Kalyn, glad to know you are a kindred spirit in the baking department. There are so many people who love to bake -- I hate to deprive them of the pleasure of baking for me!

Was talking to my mom over the phone yesterday, and she reminded me to get some crystallized ginger before I board the plane haha..to help release my naceous feeling, thanks :)

MW, the ginger will be a big help on that long flight to Malaysia. Have a wonderful trip!

I had to laugh when I saw the title for your recipe -- I thought it said "knocked up" instead of kicked up. Which would have been super-appropriate for me; ginger was the only thing that assuaged my first-trimester nausea, and I ate candied ginger by the handful!

By the way, since I've gotten back into blogging and blog-reading, I've so enjoyed your site :) I learn something every time I stop by!

Jennifer, thank you so much. I know several people who swear by crystallized ginger as an anti-nausea regimen, for both morning sickness and motion sickness.

I love this stuff--and Penzeys has the best, in my humble opinion!

Sher, I'm with you, I do love the Penzeys ginger. It's always so fresh. And the shape is really handy for baking or for snacking.

Just reading about ginger. We grow it in the herb garden, it is very easy to grow. When you buy a piece of ginger look for one that has new shoots starting to grow and gently break this off and plant in the garden. It may take a while to shoot, be patient. The plant is about 1 meter tall and wide with unusual flowers that grow from the ground. When the plant starts to wilt and the leaves are dying it is ready to harvest (the ginger is the root of the plant). Gently dig up and enjoy, we use it in stirfrys cakes deserts hot drinks for sore throats and the flu etc. Grow and enjoy !!!

Chop up dried cranberries and crystalized ginger and roll caramel apples in it - YUM!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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