Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies

How cute are THESE??? Normally we do gingerbread men, but a few years ago I found this cookie cutter in a clearance bin at the grocery store post-season and decided it needed to be broken in.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended. In a large bowl (KitchenAid's great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.)
Preheat oven to 375 deg. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course, or Christmas trees.
Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart.
Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!). 
Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack. If using cookies to build a little house, you must RE-CUT the cookie straight from the oven. Since the cookie expands slightly while baking, you will have rounded edges, so re-cut using the cookie cutter, or knife if building your own house immediately while hot. My kids favorite thing is to eat the scraps from the hot cookies. I just toss them on the bar and they magically disappear.

The photo of the trees was my first attempt at using the flooding technique. Here is a great tutorial on how to flood your cookies with royal icing. Hopefully your turn out a little better than mine.

Royal Icing recipe:

1 lb or 1 box of powdered sugar
5 TB meringue powder
1 scant 1/2 cup cold water

Beat all together to desired consistency. For the houses, I used thicker sticky icing and for the trees a little runnier so I could flood the cookies.

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