Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread men

I love it when, without any effort, I happen to have everything in the house to bake something. Today that’s gingerbread cookies.

I’m not the biggest Christmas nut I know, but there are certain traditions I need to experience to make the season come alive. Most of them are food related (naturally). The first haul of clementines have already been devoured and there’s more chocolate than usual in the house, so cookies are the next logical step.

The dough is chilling in the fridge as I write this, but I’ve already had great fun sampling it before I did the dishes and the trio of spices – ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon – is heaven!

I’m also excited to use some tiny new cutters that make adorable bite-sized cookies. The only part of this process I’m already dreading is the decorating part. I’m good with making the dough, rolling it out, pressing the cutters, baking, cooling and testing. But then it seems that decorating is just one step too far and I have a feeling that most of these will get eaten plain. I think I need to form an alliance with an enthusiastic cake/cookie decorator.

And here’s photographic proof – the star in the second one is clearly an alien asking me to to take him to my leader. And the men look as though they require medical attention.

IMG_2835 IMG_2836

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I switched out the shortening for unsalted butter. You’re welcome.

1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tbsp white vinegar
2½ cups all-purpose flour

Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you begin. You will also need to chill the dough for about 3 hours, so plan your time accordingly.

Measure out your sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and ground cloves into a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter in a bowl using a handmixer or your stand mixer (using the paddle attachment) until fluffy, about 30 seconds on a moderately high speed. Add the sugar and spice mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined – you may have to scrape down the sides once in a while. Add the molasses, egg and vinegar to the mixture and mix until combined. Add the flour in stages until combined. Divide the dough in half, place on clingfilm, wrap up tightly and place in the fridge for about 3 hours.

Roll the dough on a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and bake in a 375F oven for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.

And for those intrepid ones who wish to surpass my modest decorating ambitions, here is the recipe (again from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook) for Powdered Sugar Icing:

1 cup sifted powdered (aka icing) sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk or orange juice

Mix the sugar, vanilla and milk or orange juice together in a small bowl, adding more milk/orange juice until drizzling consistency.

After that you’re on your own, kids. I didn’t bother rushing out to buy any special equipment, just merely spooned the icing into a ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner.

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