Glancing out the window at the occasionally swirling snow, I can’t help but think there couldn’t possibly be a better day to bake gingerbread…
Surrounded by children, listening to Beethoven (happy birthday, Mr. Beethoven!) on NPR, and slowly but surely hand-cutting each gingerbread man, the entire process has been enjoyable in every way…
I assembled the ingredients this morning, happy to finally have ginger, and then quickly came to the realization that I don’t own a gingerbread man cookie cutter…no…the Christmas Rhino simply won’t do when you want to bite the head off a nice, crispy gingerbread man!
So I made a couple of cardstock templates. Though a bit time consuming, the hand cutting process renders a cookie of infinite charm. Not to mention the children think I’m extremely resourceful and have been cutting out their own templates ever since! We now have hearts, trees, angels, etc. Not one rhinoceros…thank heavens!
The recipe is quite good, as well. One batch made six gingerbread giants (6 inch cookie men!), fifteen gingerbread men (3 inches, give or take), eight gingerbread hearts and assorted other cutouts according to the fancy of that particular child.
Here’s the recipe, adapted to suit us from allrecipes.com:
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening, melted and
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
2.In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
3.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto parchment of wax paper covered cookie sheet.
4.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.
Yummy…just about the best I’ve ever tasted. And the dough is very pliable and forgiving. Extremely important if you’re hand cutting the shapes.
Not feeling up to baking and decorating the real thing? Try your hand at these:
Or maybe the kiddies would rather decorate a gingerbread house. This is too, too sweet:
Of course, you could just let them color
And be sure to read them the traditional tale of the Gingerbread Man!