RECIPE #144, DAY #168
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Gingerbread Cookies” from Betty Crocker*
TIMING: 3 hours, including a pretty long chill time
DIFFICULTY: Just a notch above easy
TOOLS: Baking sheets, cookie cutters, optional piping bag, a stand mixer or mixing bowl and hand mixer, etc.
COOK TYPE: Oven, baking
HEALTH: They’re cookies, although the ginger, molasses, and cinnamon do redeem them a little. They’re meant for enjoying like once a year.
EXPERIENCE: I am not the biggest fan of gingerbread, and I have found that most kids agree with me. It’s an old-fashioned taste. And yet, old-fashioned is just the sort of thing we sometimes want around the holidays, when tradition is even more important than at other times of the year.
There was a sign up for the Girl Scout holiday performance. The sugar cookies were all spoken for, but gingerbread cookies remained open. We whipped up a batch from one of the standards of American cooking and then decorated the little “men” to be sash-wearing Girl Scouts.
The cookies were just as expected. They stayed together, but where soft. The frosting was easy to use. The taste was completely as expected. (Gingerbread cookies should not be as sweet as some more modern cookies.) So, if you are looking for a completely acceptable gingerbread cookie, look no further.
NOTES: I suppose you can use powdered ginger, but I hardly ever do. I opt for fresh or even jarred ginger over the powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening, 1 1/2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, and 2/3 cup cold water.
- Remove bowl from the stand and with a spoon, add 7 cups all purpose flour then sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together until just combined.
- Place dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- While dough chills, clean out the bowl of your stand mixer. In the bowl, place 2 sticks softened, unsalted butter and beat for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, then 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons milk or cream. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If too thick, add milk or cream. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- On a clean, flat, floured surface, place your dough. Sprinkle top with flour and roll out to a disc evenly 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Try to utilize every millimeter of space. Place on a cookie sheet with room between.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until set (and no indentation remains when touched). Repeat for rest of the cookies, remembering that you do want to re-work the dough as little as possible.
- Remove cookies to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting. You can spread on frosting and then decorate with candies, or you can use a piping bag (and food coloring) to decorate.
Serve with milk.
*Recipe changed from the original.