Sunday, December 09, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

It's already been a long December for me.   Work gets frenetic as people are trying to get everything done they said they would in 2012, way back last January.  Then, others are trying to get their last vacation days in before they lose them at the end of the year, so it's difficult to make things happen.  Of course, there is holiday lunches and potlucks to attend, too.   On Thursday, it took all my resolve to go into the office instead of staying home and baking cookies.   Specifically, gingerbread cookies.....

Michigan, my Michigan

Gingerbread Cookies
3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
3/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup robust  molasses
2 tablespoons milk

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda at low speed until combined. Add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened.   Scrape dough onto work surface and divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 20-25 minutes. (You could also refrigerate the dough 2 hours or overnight.)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into desired shapes and transfer the shapes to your parchment-lined cookie sheets. Space them at least an inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. For crispier cookies, let them bake for a little longer and roll them thinner.  Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.   Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

These can be decorated with fancy royal friend Olivia makes the most beautiful Christmas cookies...

Olivia's cookies

and every year, I try to make ones as nice as she does, but I rarely succeed.  Maybe this year will be the year!  To make cookies like this, it requires a lot of stuff....

sprinkles and sugars

...and it also requires cake decorating tools and really good food coloring.   The best way to learn how to do it is this website, which I found, thanks to Olivia.   Over the years, I've also used squeeze bottles instead of icing bags and tips.    I use this Royal Icing recipe - there are tons out there, but I've had good luck with this one.   The key is to make sure that the icing is the right consistency.  

Royal Icing Recipe


3/4 cup warm water
5 T meringue powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2.25 lbs powdered sugar


In mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more. Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.  Using the paddle attachment on the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy. Add just drops of water at a time to make the icing runnier.  If you add too much water at a time it’s more difficult to thicken it with icing sugar than it is to add water to it.  To make sure the icing is the right consistency for flooding, try the “10 second rule”.  Drag a butter knife through the surface of the icing and count to 10.  If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds, then the icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer than approximately 10 seconds, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.  If the icing surface smooths over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.  Mix the icing longer or slowly add more sifted icing sugar to thicken it.

Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying.

Tint with food coloring of your choice.   This is always hard for me to figure out, because I really don't have a good eye for color.   I need a theme this year, too.   Maybe I will make all snowflakes, or Christmas trees, or mittens.   I have a million cookie cutters....more than any one person should have.   I'm not sure when I am going to bake some cookies this season.  Maybe today will be the day!


Olivia said...

I am so touched by the kind things you wrote about my cookies. Every year a bit before Christmas, I like to invite friends over to decorate cut out cookies. Next year, you should come over. It's fun for me to provide the tools/space for each person's unique, outside-the-box creativity.

Tricia said...

I hope you got your cookies made! My boys made sugar cookies with their grandmother, while my husband and I were out of town. Sadly for us, they also ATE most of them before we got home...