Gingerbread Cookies

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is there anything that smells more like Christmas than gingerbread?

(Using my best Kevin McCallister impression): I don't think so.

I am in the midst of working on a special project. These cookies are a part of that. I'll explain more tomorrow or Thursday, so stay tuned for that.

Anyway, tonight I hit the kitchen and made gingerbread cookies for the very first time. It went pretty well, I'd have to say. Especially for using a random recipe that wasn't "proven." It's very good, though... spicy, just as you'd expect gingerbread to be. My biggest challenge was that gingerbread cookies are a little bit different than any other cookies in that they definitely get very firm and crunchy. I wasn't quite sure what I was working with.

If I were to change anything the next time I make these, I would do two things differently:

1) I would bake them for less time. I like chewy cookies, and these are a bit crunchier. As I already mentioned, gingerbread cookies are crunchier by nature, so you almost have to undercook them a little bit to get them chewy. Because I was making such huge shapes, I was paranoid about baking time, so I think I overdid it a little more than I would normally like. It was also hard to tell when the cookies were browning since they are such a dark color to begin with.

2) I would use buttercream icing instead of royal. Or I would use royal, but go further and "flood fill" the cookies. I had problems with some of my outlines breaking off as I was packing them up for storage. Not good. But oh well. It's not like royal adds much flavor anyway... the gingerbread dominates the taste of the cookie. I'm sad they may not look very pretty by the time they are eaten, though! At least they taste good.

I chose to use these huge cookie cutters that I have. Mostly because I didn't want to have to decorate 8 zillion cookies in the middle of a work week. And what better shapes to use than the classic gingerbread man and gingerbread woman? I also threw some large stars in there because I needed something slightly smaller to help use up dough scraps.

To outline all of these cookies (18 total), I only made 1/3 batch of Wilton's royal icing. When I was first mixing it up, I thought I had made a gross underestimation and that I would never have enough icing. Turns out that my original guess was correct, because I had more than enough. Obviously, if you want to flood fill the cookies, you're going to need more than that.

Gingerbread Cookies
(Source: Joy of Baking)

Ingredients:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses

Tip: To prevent molasses from sticking to your measuring cup, first spray the cup with non-stick cooking spray.

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture beating until incorporated.

3. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. (I didn't plan ahead so this threw a wrench in my plans. So I fudged it. I put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I cleaned up my mess and prepared for rolling out the dough. It worked just fine, the dough was a good consistency for rolling.)

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you roll out the dough.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 - 1/4 inch. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. With an spatula, lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart.

6. Bake for about 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. Small ones will take about 8 minutes, larger cookies will take about 12 minutes. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. (For my huge cookies, I did 10 minutes, and as I said, I would go with less time next time so they are chewier. So obviously, bake for less time if you want your cookies to be chewy. They will continue to bake for a minute or so even after you remove them from the oven.)

7. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute. When they are firm enough to move, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter used. (For me, with my large cookie cutters, I got 18 cookies.)

6 comments:

Amber Bass December 9, 2008 at 10:48 PM  

Heather, you're so creative! And very talented. Michael's a lucky man. :) Your other blog has been an inspiration to me for our wedding. I'm doing our invites and aisle runner myself tomorrow... took the day off of work to catch up on some wedding stuff. Thanks for all of the recipes and inspiration. Oh, by the way, I hope that Tessa gets to feeling better. We had daschunds when I was growing up. And one of them always had swollen lymph nodes. Her whole life. She lived a VERY long life. And on a funny ironic note, our dog now is half doxie.... we don't know what the other half is. Maybe shepard. I'll post a photo on my blog if you'd like to see her. Have a great night!!!

noisy penguin December 10, 2008 at 1:27 AM  

These are adorable. I think I keep leaving that same comment on all your blogs with decorated desserts, but seriously. Just make something ugly already so I can feel better about myself. =)

Blablover5 December 10, 2008 at 9:47 AM  

Those are amazing. They look bakery perfect really.

Mands,  December 10, 2008 at 10:28 AM  

Hi Heather,

These look so delicious! I am such a fan of Gingerbread. I was actually going to make some the other night, but then I realized that I didn't have any molasses, nor do I have a mixer. So at least now I know what I'm going to buy myself for Christmas-a mixer. I found this recipe when I was watching Monday's Food Network Challenge, and thought you might want to at least take a look at it if not give it a try. Sounds pretty good to me!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-challenge/gingerbread-dough-recipe2/index.html

tab890 December 10, 2008 at 3:53 PM  

they look so cute and delicious!

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