Christmas baking is known for a few staples – roll-out sugar cookies, fruitcake, gingerbread houses – but not much that deeply inspires me as a baker. So this year, I decided to go beyond the stale house covered in old candies and discover what else ginger has to offer.

Year-round, I enjoy snacking on candied ginger and drinking bottle after bottle of strong ginger beer for the exciting taste and alleged health benefits. I often find myself looking at purchased products like candied ginger, wondering how hard it really would be to make them in my home.

The process of candying ginger — peeling, slicing, cooking, coating and drying the ginger — turned out to be time consuming, but not at all difficult. If you don’t mind (or like me, absolutely love) the bite of ginger, the candied pieces make for a delightful, addictive snack.

If those are too strong for your tastes, you can use the ginger for your favorite holiday recipes – a soft, sweet ginger cookie gets spiced up when you add chopped crystallized ginger. Or, you can take a simple pound cake, vanilla frosting and mix it up with the candied ginger, cover it in dark chocolate and sprinkle more ginger on top for ginger pound cake balls.

Both recipes surrounded by sparkling pieces of crystallized ginger make a beautiful addition to any holiday party or Christmas dessert table. They also can be packaged in cellophane bags or gift boxes for an impressively tasty present. If your friends are the DIY-types, you can include directions on how they, too, can candy their own ginger.

If you’re working last minute, you can find crystallized ginger at most grocery stores. One benefit to candying it yourself is the ginger syrup that results — you can use this for a sweet kick in holiday cocktails or cocoa, or add some seltzer for homemade ginger ale — a great remedy for tummy troubles that pop up after holiday overeating.