Gingerbread and gingersnaps, those unassuming, rust-colored sweets, are a quiet herald of the holiday flavors to come—sweet and spicy but not full-on nutmeg and cinnamon just yet. We're huge fans of the cake and the cookies, and we've got nine interesting recipes to try. Some even include chocolate.FIRST ROW: Gingerbread
1. Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake. We've made this many times, always to rave reviews. It's easy and beautiful.
2. Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Gingerbread Cake, from A Cat in the Kitchen. Topped with a thick, chocolate icing. Unconventional, but how can it be bad?
3. Chocolate Gingerbread Bars, from Everyday Food. Another combination of gingerbread and chocolate, cut into brownie-sized pieces.
4. Gingerbread, from Gourmet. A solid, basic recipe for the purists.
5. Upside-down Quince Gingerbread Cake, from Redbook. This calls for a boxed cake mix (we guess it's troublesome enough to find good quinces), but you could easily make your own. It would be good with apples or pears, too.
SECOND ROW: Gingersnaps
6. Jamie Oliver's Ultimate Gingerbread. Ok, this is sort of a hybrid—a gingery shortbread that's mostly cookie but certainly not the traditional snap.
7. Classic Gingersnaps. Emma's recipe for simple, comforting, spicy cookies.
8. Chez Panisse Gingersnaps. A great make-ahead recipe (you freeze the dough and slice off cookies) with an interesting back story.
9. Gingerbread Christmas Tree Ornaments, from Chocolate Shavings. Too early? Make pumpkin-shaped ones and hang them from a chandelier.
Related: DIY Recipe: Gingerbread Latte
(Images: Faith Durand; Dagmar/A Cat in the Kitchen; MarthaStewart.com; Stephanie Foley/Gourmet; Tina Rupp/Redbook; Chris Terry; Emma Christensen; Jennifer/Chocolate Shavings)