Thursday, December 29, 2011
I love a good gingerbread cookie. :)
For the last several years I have been wanting to find the perfect gingerbread recipe that I could add to my personal cookbook and share with others. My friend Tressa made the cutest, most delicious batch and shared them with her friends several years ago; since that Christmas, I have been determined to find a similar recipe to use and love. (Tressa keeps promising me hers, so I will have to compare the two recipes. I do believe that they are pretty similar.)
This Christmas Season, I picked up one of my favorite publications at Barnes N Noble: Cook's Illustrated. These issues never fail to deliver savory foods to the dinner table for whatever the occasion might be. I was thrilled to try the recommended Gingerbread Cookie Recipe! Not only did it offer instructions for thick and chewy cookies, but it also gave the thin and crisp version for additional preferences.
I was making multiple batches, which caused this start to finish process to last 3 evenings and 1 early Saturday morning...in other words, not something I would be able to take the time to do every holiday season. :) However, I was excited and determined to produce these yummy treats this year. (Although I will admit that by day 4 --the decorating portion of the process--my detailed attention to the beautiful, intricate details of the white icing was non-existent. As a matter of fact, my "extra several dozen" never even saw the pretty fluff. Luckily, this recipe satisfies without the added decor, so please know that if you are like me and your time is running shy and/or your baking interests have, by the end of this time-intensive project, dwindled by the waste-side...your cookies will still be share-worthy. :))
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
For about twenty 5 inch gingerbread people or thirty 3 inch cookies
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 Tbs ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
12 Tbs unslated butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup molasses
2 Tbs milk
(By food processor)
1. In food processor, process flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
(By stand mixer)
1. Stir Together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix on 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 thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.)
2. Scrape dough onto counter; divide in half. Wirjubg uwtg 1 portion of dough at a time, roll dough to even 1/2 in thickness between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight.)
3. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Remove 1 dough sheet from freezer; place on counter. 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 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring shapes to prepared sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4 inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used. Serve.
Thin and Crisp Gingerbread Cookies
For 2 1/2 to 3 Dozen gingerbread people or 4 to 5 dozen cookies
Note: If you wish to thread the cookies to make ornaments, snip wooden skewers to 1/2 in lengths and press them into the cookies just before they go into the oven; remove skewers immediately after baking.
To make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Follow recipe for Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies, quartering rather than halving dough, rolling each dough quarter 1/8 in thick, reducing oven temperature to 325 degrees, and baking cookies until slightly darkened and firm in center when pressed with finger, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Coats About 2 Dozen 2 inch cookies
Note: Transfer icing to a pastry bag to outline the cookies or make simple motifs, or use a soupspoon to drizzle the icing across the surface of the cookies. To coat the entire cookie, use a small metal spatula to spread the icing over the top surface. If the icing hardens while working with it, mix in a small amount of water.
1-2 Tbs milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1. Using a small whisk or fork, combine 1 Tbs milk and confectioners' sugar in small bowl and mix until smooth. If mixture is too stuff to work with, mix in additional milk in very tiny increments until proper consistency is reached.
2. Let icing dry to a dull shine, about 20 min, before serving or storing cookies.