Real Food for Real Life

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Gingerbread

Some of Christopher's cookies from today.

Since Nicole was little (and she is now 21!), we have baked and decorated gingerbread cookies at Christmas time. They taste good, the kids have fun decorating them, and all the family likes receiving gift packages of these cookies. I said to Christopher today that I guessed I would stop baking then when he was too old to decorate, and he told me that he would never be too old (cute what they will say when they are ten). This whole process will take several days to complete- 2 days to make and bake, plus however many days the kids take (they seem to work in spurts), but this is one tradition well worth the effort :) These cookies are not too sweet and have a nice spiciness.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a larges mixing bowl (or stand mixer), beat the eggs slightly. Add the sugar, butter, oil, and molasses, and beat until creamy. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until well combines. Flatten the dough into a disk, place on a dinner plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. At this point I repeat the recipe for a second batch- it would be too difficult to work the dough to double the recipe.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Only work with 1/4 of the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes, placing on a nonstick cookie sheet. Rework the dough as needed. Bake one sheet at a time for 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and decorate with royal icing if desired. Quantity will depend on size of cookies, but you should get about 30 4"x6" gingerbread people (our favorite shape).

Royal Icing

3 large egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs. lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer), beat the ingredients at a low speed until combined. Turn the speed to high and beat until glossy peaks form. Color with food coloring if desired. The icing will keep for a few days in the refrigerator tightly covered. Once dry on the cookies there is no need to refrigerate. Royal icing also makes a great glue for building "gingerbread:" houses from graham crackers.

These recipes are adapted from Julie Russo's Great Good Food

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