December. This is the time for baking cookies in all shapes and forms, but some are definitely more strongly associated with the holiday spirit. This posts opens a series of four chapters. I start with gingerbread, using a recipe from Tanya, tent-baker extraordinaire, aka The Gingerbread Queen. Subsequent posts will cover Sugar Cookies, Macarons, and Springerle. Gingerbread Cookies are not too hard as far as baking project goes, as long as you keep them as cookies instead of components of 3D sculptures (sigh). Because their flavor is so intense, they can be enjoyed with no decoration whatsoever, or with a very simple white Royal icing. So simple that you can even get by using a tip-less piping bag. And of course, sprinkles are always welcome. Always.
(very slightly modified from Tanya’s blog)
640 grams all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
226 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
200 grams granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 large egg, at room temperature
120 mL (1/2 cup) honey
120 mL (1/2 cup) molasses
2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of stand mixer add the sugar with the orange zest and rub them well with your fingers, until fragrant. Add the butter, fit the machine with the paddle attachment and mix until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice during mixing. Add the molasses, honey, and vinegar and mix well.
Turn off the mixer and add about half of the dry ingredients. Mix on low just to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Gather the dough together into a ball and then flatten the dough into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until firm enough to roll without sticking.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 3/16-inch thickness. Cut out shapes, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets and freeze for 5 minutes.
Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and lightly browned around the edges. A three-inch round cookie will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting and/or assembling with royal icing.
to print the recipe, click here
For most of my decorations, I used Tanya’s recipe for Royal Icing with very little water added. For gingerbread, I prefer not to fully cover the cookie, so instead of flooding them, I piped shapes and wanted them to stay firmly in place.
You can keep it all super simple….
or… while keeping it simple couple the design with some gold for a festive twist
The star was left fully white, the others were painted with gold luster diluted with lemon extract. It is a bit hard to see it in the middle ones, because the gold was just applied on the white decorations.
Even if I rather not completely cover a gingerbread cookie, sprinkles (in this case sparkling sugar) are hard to resist… Just add them before the icing hardens. Keep in mind that the thicker the icing, the faster it sets.
Now what if you dislike Royal icing with a passion? Here is a pretty sweet alternative (pun intended).
EASY NON-ROYAL ICING
1 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons milk
2 tsp corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, or lemon)
Whisk whisk whisk whisk…. If it flows as a thick ribbon from a spoon, it will be ready to use. You can flood the surface or make thick ribbons. Leave as it is, or go crazy with….. SPRINKLES!!!!
to print the recipe, click here
This icing will crust well in a few hours, but just to be safe don’t mess too much with the cookies for 24 hours, especially if you are going to pack them for gifts or shipping.
Stay tuned for Sugar Cookies next….
ONE YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four
TWO YEARS AGO: White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake
THREE YEAR AGO: Panettone Time!
FOUR YEARS AGO: Pistachio Creme Brulee
FIVE YEARS AGO: Fast and Furious Bison Chili
SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2014
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Braised Fennel with Saffron and Tomato
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts
NINE YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons
TEN YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch
ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta