December 21, 2013
Christmas is only days away, and I can hardly wait for it to be here! But time's a-ticking away to share this recipe with you before the season passes me by! I know lots of people have favorite, cherished recipes for gingerbread cookies, but if you don't, give these ones a try. They are fantastic.
I don't remember having a fondness for ginger spice cookies as a child -- they simply weren't part of our Christmas traditions. But I've really grown to love them in adulthood. Even that glossy, crunchy, sweet touch that is royal icing. And maybe it's even the old-fashioned nature of this kind of cookie. What is it about old fashioned dishes as we grow up? Something about them just calls out to us, I think. Makes me want to make some Chicken a la King...
Where was I?
Oh yes. Gingerbread boys. And snowflakes. And anything the heart desires, really. When cut into simple stars or holly leaves and decorated with the names of guests, these make excellent (and edible!) place cards. They also make lovely ornaments. Use a straw to punch a hole in the top of the shape, bake, and hang. So sweet, especially when you hang some candy canes to go with them. I'm thinking of working these into our Christmas Eve celebrations to decorate the tree with goodies and then munch on them all Christmas day long. Does this sound like heaven to anyone else?
This makes sturdy yet tender cookies. I've not yet attempted a gingerbread house with this recipe, but the cookies help up nicely when I used my 3D cookie cutters (found at Goodwill -- score!). You can cook them a bit more if you like a crispy cookie, but I like mine on the soft side.
6 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. (12 oz) molasses
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Makes about 6 dozen 4-inch cookies.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Once it's pale and fluffy, beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add molasses and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
With mixer on lowest setting, gradually (very gradually) add flour mixture. The dough will be very soft and quite sticky.
Divide the dough into thirds, and wrap each individually in plastic wrap. Let dough chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F while you roll out your dough and cut your shapes. Flour board/mat/counter very well, and keep more flour handy. I like to place a fine mesh sieve in a cereal bowl and spoon some flour into the sieve. Keeping it next to my rolling mat allows me to shake an even layer of flour over my work surface whenever needed. Dough should be well chilled when you roll, or it will be unmanageable. Transfer cut shapes to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 8-9 minutes for larger cookies (3-4 inches) and about 5-6 minutes for smaller (1-2 inch cookies.
Decorate your cookies with a piping bag and royal icing. (I use Alton Brown's recipe.) For a little extra sparkle, sprinkle a pinch of granulated sugar over the top of still-wet icing. Gives it a special little something.