Monday, January 7, 2013
Gingerbread Cookies ~ Christmas and all-year round!
My 9-year old grandson came to me shortly after Thanksgiving with a request for gingerbread cookies for his 4th grade class’s Christmas party. Of course, I said ‘Yes!’
I didn’t have a favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe, so I surfed the Internet. It was on the Food Network that I found the perfect recipe, courtesy of Rick Rodgers (Christmas 101, Random House, 1999)
It was the comments as much as the recipe itself that got my attention. While the recipe itself seemed pretty traditional, it had the added attraction of 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. In the comments, some readers raved about the perfection of the recipe as is. Others doubled the spices, even adding more black pepper.
As a first time user, I chose to stick with the original recipe. If I never have the opportunity to bake the suggested variations, I’ll still be completely satisfied.
I ended up mixing and freezing the dough two weeks ahead of time, then baking them on the morning of the day my grandson was to come over to decorate them with me. What fun we had decorating, and nibbling on, those gingerbread boys.
You can find the recipe here. And here are my notes on what I discovered while making these cookies.
1 - The directions say to preheat the oven. Wait! You’ll be chilling the dough for at least three hours. Most ovens only take 5-10 minutes to preheat.
2 - You’ll be using meringue powder in the Royal Icing and the author suggests ordering it online. I’ve found it at Michaels and Walmart.
3 - When you’re ready to roll out the cookie dough and cut out shapes, the following three items will come in handy...
LONG ICING SPATULA to slide under the rolled-out dough to make sure it’s not sticking.
PASTRY BRUSH to brush away flour on top and bottom after cut out cookies
NAIL BRUSH to clean under your fingernails -- yes, the dough does manage to work its way under them. (I keep a nail brush in the bathroom and the kitchen. They come in handy every day.)
Rick Rodgers says it’s your choice to make the Gingerbread Cookies thin and crisp or thick and chewy. I made the chewy version. So easy to work with and such an amazing taste and texture!
A bonus when removing them from the oven is the wonderful aroma that fills your kitchen.
My son was home for Christmas for the first time in many years. He’s career US Air Force and can’t always get away, but this year he was here for a week. So, we worked together on Christmas Candy Cane Cookies.
You can find the recipe and the story behind the Christmas Candy Cane Cookies here.
I make this cookie dough several weeks ahead of time, too, color half red (pink?), and freeze it until needed. My son suggested that we forgo twisting ropes of dough together to make the candy cane shapes, and instead roll them out.
We partially rolled out each dough, then cut strips from the red and laid them atop the plain. Then we rolled them together till the dough was the correct thickness. We also rolled the crushed candy canes into the dough (instead of sprinkling them on top). At that point, we used two different sized candy cane cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.
We sprinkled green sugar sprinkles and white nonpareils on some of the cookies before baking them. I had leftover Royal Icing from the Gingerbread Cookies (freezes well) and thawed it to decorate the Christmas Candy Cane Cookies. We sprinkled more green sugar and white nonpareils on the icing.