Ron Ben-Israel is rooting for you to use fresh ginger.
"It's spicy and peppery with a fresh, tangy flavor - and a snappy aftertaste," said the master pastry chef and host of Food Network's "Sweet Genius."
This knobby little root, which is actually the rhizome or underground stem of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), not only packs a serious aromatic punch, it has long been revered for its medicinal properties.
Here are five, gingery recipes to make in a snap this holiday season.
1. Candied ginger
"The following method describes the process of making candied ginger. I save the resulting syrup for drizzling over ice cream and yogurt, and for tossing with a fresh fruit salad."
Fresh ginger root
Fresh lemon, sliced
Peel the fresh ginger root, and slice thinly.
Fill a measuring cup to determine the quantity of ginger slices - that would be the necessary amount of granulated sugar and water respectively.
Bring sugar and water to boil. Add the ginger slices and slices of lemon. Continue cooking on low heat for one to three hours. Fresh young ginger will cook faster, but older roots will require the longer cooking time.
Drain the cooked ginger slices and reserve the syrup for other uses.
Spread the slices over a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and let drain overnight. (The process can be quickened by letting the ginger dry in a 200 degrees F oven.) Toss the candied ginger in granulated sugar or dip in melted dark chocolate.
2. Crystallized Ginger Shortbread
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups finely chopped candied ginger
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together (preferably with a mixer) the soft butter, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt.