Gingerbread Stars Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies Natural sweeteners, fresh ginger and orange juice give these star/shaped cookies their satisfying, old/fashioned flavor. Decorate cookies with confectioner sugar icing or bits of dried fruit and nuts.

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes each batch

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup dehydrated cane juice
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated gingerroot
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup orange juice
Raisins, papaya bits, peanuts and dried cranberries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and dehydrated cane juice with an electric mixer until creamy. Add rice syrup, molasses and gingerroot and mix well.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients a little at a time, alternating with orange juice as needed. Work in the last of the flour mixture with your hands.

3. Lightly oil a cookie sheet and roll out the dough directly onto it. Cut out figures with a star/shaped cookie cutter. Remove scraps of dough between cut/outs and reuse to make more stars. Decorate cookies with dried fruit and nuts before baking, if desired. Bake cookies 8 minutes or longer according to thickness of dough.