I prefer to give homemade gifts for the holidays and since most of my friends also give cookies and candies, I like to do something a little different. My friends love to get my cakes in a jar during the holidays and, since they have a shelf life, they can be enjoyed after other holiday treats are long gone.
- flour - 2 1/2 cups
- sugar - 1/2 cup granulated
- brown sugar - 1/2 cup
- baking soda - 1 tsp
- baking powder - 1/2 tsp
- salt - 1/4 tsp
- black pepper - 1/4 tsp
- ginger - 2 tsp, ground
- chocolate - 1 TBS, unsweetened
- cloves - 1/2 tsp, ground
- butter - 3/4 cup, softened
- coffee - 3/4 cup - strong & dark
- molasses - 1/2 cup, unsulphered
- Preheat oven to 325-degrees . . . it's a good idea to check the temp with an oven thermometer.
- Sterilize 5 (12 oz) Ball Quilted Crystal straight-sided jam/jelly canning jars, lids and rings by boiling them for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and allow them to air-dry on your counter top (I leave them in my dishwasher on the platewarmer cycle); leave the lids and rings in the hot water until you're ready to use them.
- Once the jars are cool enough to handle, use a pastry brush to grease them with shortening (DO NOT use butter, margarine, PAM or Baker's Secret); set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Stir in margarine, water and molasses until well blended. Divide batter among the 5 jars (they should be about 1/2 full). Place jars onto a cookie sheet or they'll tip over.
- Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 35 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Move the jars around in the oven while they're baking, so they'll bake evenly.
- Have your HOT lids ready. Using tongs or oven mitts (the jars are hot!) Take one jar at a time from the oven and place a lid on, then the ring. Tightly screw on lids and allow jars to cool on your countertop. You'll hear a pop when the lid seals. The cakes should last for a few months if stored in a cool, dark place, but they'll probably be gone long before that.
- To decorate the jars, simply tie a decorative ribbon around the ring with a sprig of holly or a pine cone. If you're emulating Martha Stewart, remove the ring and place a mound of cotton in the center of each lid, then place a piece of decorative cloth, about 3-inches larger in circumference than the lid, cut with pinking shears, on top of the cotton. Screw the ring back on to secure the fabric and tie on your ribbon.