Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

These are a tradition at our house. Kelley and I have made them every Christmas that I can remember her being old enough to stand at the kitchen counter with me. I hope that she will pass this tradition along to her daughter, Emmie (Who is not quite old enough this year, but soon!) This dough is VERY forgiving. You can roll it, re-roll and re-roll and it's still wonderful!

Be sure to make the dough ahead and let it chill overnight. If you roll the dough thin (1/4-in.) the cookies will be crisp (good for dunking in hot tea or cider) and if you roll the dough thick (1/3-1/2-inch) the cookies will be soft. It's up to you!!

Gingerbread Men
1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup molasses (spray the measuring cup with Pam and it will come out easier)
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves (since cloves are strong, I used less when the kids were little)

Cream shortening and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add molasses and mix well. Beat in egg. Sift dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture. Stir or mix slowly just until all ingredients are combined. Chill overnight (or minimum of 4 hrs). Roll out on a floured board. Cut into shapes and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely and decorate.

Note: I add raisin buttons before baking and sometimes "red hot" candy for heart or buttons. All of these need to be baked on. The rest of the decorating is done with Royal Icing when the cookies are completely cool. This is the FUN part!!

Royal Icing (or Decorator Frosting)
My Home Ec training tells me that I must warn you this icing is made with raw egg whites. If you are concerned about that, you can purchase meringue powder (powdered egg whites) at craft stores and some grocery stores. I've made this for 30 years and never gotten sick from it, however, I do NOT lick my fingers or eat it by the spoonful!! The cookies have a small amt on them.

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted ( 3 1/2 cups)
Combine egg whites and cream of tarter in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form (5-7 minutes). Yield: 2 cups frosting.

Note: This icing can also be used as the "glue" for building and assembling gingerbread houses.
Keep a wet dish towel draped over the bowl while you're working with icing in a decorating bag. When it dries out, it is as hard as glass!!! If it starts getting dry on you, add water by the teaspoon until it is soft again.

1 comment :

  1. Hi, Helen, Shirley Uphouse here. I intend to make some of those delicious gingerbread cookies even if it will be after Christmas. Hope you had a good weekend.