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Desserts and confections from grandmother's ginger jar

Sometimes we have odd reasons for remembering places we have visited. One of my major reasons for remembering York, England, is of course the magnificent York Minster Cathedral. But I also remember a tiny tearoom in York where I found ginger fudge put up in small paper bags.

Like many natives of Old England and New, I am partial to ginger desserts and confections, particularly those sugar-coated ginger patties the size of a silver dollar that are becoming more difficult to find.

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Ginger is more expensive in this country than in England, where decorated tins of crystallized ginger and ornamental jars of Canton ginger in syrup are displayed on grocery shelves in the candy department. The supply I brought back with me should last for some time to come, and since a local independent confectioner told me that he can no longer afford to make ginger ice cream, I have resorted to putting bits of candied ginger into slightly softened vanilla ice cream.

To "ginger" means to "put spirit into," and that is what the ginger root does to anything with which it comes in contact, be it candy or preserves. Put the bite of ginger, either ground or preserved into a souffle. Add a few snips of candied ginger to fruit cocktail.

It is one of the few desserts offered in Chinese restaurants and is just right to serve after a home-cooked meal of Chinese, Polynesian, Hawaiian or Indian Food. Canton ginger is delicious chopped fine and used with or without its sauce. Try it with banana, pineapple, onions, squash, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

In New England, it is possible that our taste for ginger is inherited from seafaring ancestors who were in the spice trade, and some of our great great-grandmamas kept a little stone crock of candied ginger on the pantry shelf. Canton Fruit Cup 1 can chunk-style pineapple 2 oranges, peeled, skinned and cut up 2 bananas, peeled, cut in rings Preserved ginger candy, minced (1 tablespoon or more, if desired)

Mix all ingredients. Chill. Divide into 4 sherbet cups. Serves 4. Candied Ginger Pie 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 1/2 cup sugar, divided 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 eggs, separated 3/4 cup milk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 cup heavy cream, whipped 1/3 cup slivered, candied ginger Gingersnaps

Mix together gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in top of double boiler or saucepan. Beat egg yolks with milk. Stir into gelatin mixture. Place over boiling water or low heat and cook, stirring until gelatin dissolves and mixture thickens slightly, about 6 minutes. Add vanilla. Chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.

Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until very stiff. Fold in gelatin mixture. Fold in whipped cream and candied ginger. Chill until mixture will pile.

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Place whole gingersnaps around side and over bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Use small cookie pieces to fill in spaces. Turn chilled gelatin mixture into prepared pie plate, piling high in center. Chill several hours or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream and additional candied ginger. Serves 8. Ginger-Peachy Parfait 1 8-ounce container whipped cream cheese 1 tablespoon preserved ginger, very finely chopped 2 tablespoons ginger syrup 1 13-ounce can sliced cling peaches

Combine whipped cream cheese with ginger and ginger syrup. Drain peaches. Alternate layers of peaches and cream cheese mixture in parfait glasses. Chill until serving time. Serves 6. Ginger-Honey Pears 4 pears, halved lengthwise, cored 1/2 cup honey 4 teaspoons preserved ginger candy, minced 1/2 cup hot water

Wash pears. Arrange on baking pan. Pour honey over pears. Sprinkle with ginger candy. Add water. Bake in a 350 deg F. oven 45 minutes. Serves 4. Ginger Dessert Sauce 2 cups sugar 1 1/2 cups boiling water 1/2 cup chopped nuts 1/4 cup minced preserved ginger

In heavy skillet melt sugar over medium- low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes a clear brown syrup, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully stir in water, nuts and ginger. Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until syrup is smooth again. Cool. Pour into clean jars and cover tightly. Store at room temperature. Serve over ice cream, cake or fruit. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Will keep up to 6 months. Ginger Pound Cake 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups butter or margarine 1 3/4 cups sugar 8 eggs, separated 1 tablespoon grated orange rind 1 tablespoon vanilla 1/4 cup shredded preserved or candied ginger

Grease and flour a 10 by 4-inch angel food tube pan. Sift flour, baking powder and salt onto waxed paper.

Beat butter or margarine in a large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in orange rind, vanilla and flour mixture until smooth and well blended.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl with electric mixer until foamy, using clean beaters.Beat in remaining 1 cup sugar slowly, until meringue holds soft peaks. Fold into batter until no streaks remain. Spoon half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ginger over batter. Spoon in remaining batter. Top with remaining ginger. Bake in a 350 deg F. oven for 1 hour, or until top springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip.

Let cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Loosen around edges with spatula. Lift out onto wire rack. Cool completely. Wrap in foil and keep at room temperature overnight. May be stored in refrigerator. Ginger Fudge 3/4 cup milk 2 cups white sugar 1 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons white corn syrup 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 pound finely chopped candied ginger

Bring milk to a boil in large, heavy pan. Remove from heat. Add the next 3 ingredients and stir until dissolved. Cook until boiling. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes until the steam washes down any crystals which may have formed on the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook to 238 deg F.

Remove from heat and drop butter on surface of syrup. Cool to 110 deg F. Beat until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla and finely chopped ginger. Pour candy onto a buttered platter and cut into squares before it hardens. Makes about 1 3/4 pounds.


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