The Sweet Aroma Of Gingerbread

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - November 30, 2005
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When Ballet Hawaii says that its Nutcracker production is for the entire family, it isn’t kidding, especially where the Miller family is involved!

Mom Marion Philpotts-Miller aspired to be a professional ballerina. She went to the United States International University in California to study and then danced with the San Diego Ballet for two years, before heading to San Francisco to become an interior designer.

Marion has stuck to her roots, retrofitting her Nuuanu garage into a private ballet studio and being in Nutcracker as both a party mother and Mistress Mouse. Dad Jeff Miller is an attorney and is described as having “two left feet, but a heart in the right place.” He’ll be one of the dancing parents in the opening of the ballet. Their daughters, 14-yearold Makena and 9-year-old Maree, are in Nutcracker again Dec. 16-18 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. Makena has grown up with the Tchaikovsky classic, having starred as Marie, and now appearing as a Snowflake. Sister Maree is one of the party girls. Marion says that being involved with ballet is “hard work, but the discipline is invaluable, and being able to express oneself is amazing.” She says dancing has made her daughters more poised and articulate, and that they know how to budget their time to allow for dance, studies, and enjoying fun in the kitchen, where making their holiday gingerbread house is an annual family treat.

What could be more pleasing to the senses than the aroma of gingerbread wafting through the house? To officially kick off the holiday baking season, here is my easy gingerbread recipe. Some folks like to add raisins to their gingerbread, so go ahead, get creative and add them or candied fruit for a festive treat.

Note: To add raisins or fruit, toss in the flour mixture to evenly coat them. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the gingerbread.

Columbus introduced molasses to the West Indies in the late 1400s. Molasses became an important product in Colonial trade, and was the major sweetener used in America until after World War I, as it was less expensive than sugar. Molasses and maple syrup remained the most popular sweeteners throughout the 19th century, but after World War I, when sugar prices plummeted, sugar became the most popular sweetener in America.

There are three major types of molasses: unsulphured, sulphured and blackstrap. Unsulphured molasses is the finest quality. It is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane, and the juice is clarified and concentrated. Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane and treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process. This second boil molasses takes on a darker color, is less sweet and has a more pronounced flavor. Blackstrap molasses is from the third boil, is high in iron and minerals, and has almost no sugar, which gives it a bitter taste.


* 11/2 cups unbleached flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup Smart Balance margarine
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 2 egg whites
* 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
* 1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray and lightly flour pan, shaking any excess flour from pan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices and set aside.

Cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, add egg whites and molasses and beat until well-combined. Add boiling water alternately with flour mixture to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour batter into pan, and bake for about 35 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean from center.

Makes 12 squares.

Serve warm with a scoop of nonfat vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 208 Fat: 6 grams Cholesterol: 0 milligrams Sodium: 120 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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Most Recent Comment(s):

Great tasting recipe and the best all around healthy recipes. Love the dedications too!

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