Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies

One of the joys of being home is being able to cook and bake on a daily basis. I find it relaxing and rewarding to be busy around the kitchen, and everyone enjoys the fruits of the labor!

One holiday tradition that we try to do almost every year is to make and decorate cookies. A few years ago we made gingerbread cookies, as they taste a lot better (in my opinion) than just plain sugar cookies! So, this year I decided to make gingerbread cookies again. My mom looked for a new recipe online, and the one she found turned out well. She originally found it here, and I've posted it below with my modifications. The original recipe is for gingerbread people, but I used a variety of holiday shapes to make fun cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (This was our addition, but it adds a great flavor!) 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg white (I just used 1 egg and it worked fine)
cooking spray

For gingerbread people:
2 tablespoons dried currants
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
If just decorating cookies, use frosting (I actually used store-bought for this, as the homemade spoils faster) and whatever else you want! We used sugar sprinkles, food coloring to make colored frosting, and red hot candy.

Yield: approx. 48 cookies (I doubled the batch when I made it)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

Combine the flour and next 7 ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a bowl, and set aside.

Combine granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer 5 minutes. (I only beat it for around 2 minutes...)

Add molasses and egg white; beat well.

Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well-blended.

Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Working with 1 half of dough at a time (keep remaining half chilled until ready to use), roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a heavily floured surface; cut with cookie cutters.

Place gingerbread cookies 1 inch apart (I crowded mine a little more and they were fine!) on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.

Arrange currants on cookies as buttons. (If making people)
Bake at 350° for 8 minutes.

Remove from pans; cool on wire racks.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.
Spoon into a decorating bag or a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag with a tiny hole snipped in 1 corner of bag, and decorate as desired.

Ready to go in the oven

A yummy abundance of cookies

Some of the end results

I made the cookies on Thursday, and Lydia and I enjoyed decorating some of them. It brought back memories of our childhood when my older sister Miriam would make cookies and us 4 youngest would spend time decorating together with her. Even though we're older now, it was fun to use our creativity in combining colors and designs!

We brought two plates of cookies to a family that evening, and decorated the rest of the cookies on Friday, sending a plate of cookies to our neighbors with our parents on Saturday. The cookies are delicious with all of the yummy spices, and soft and moist as long as you don't leave them for too long in the oven like I did one of the trays! ;-)

These cookies would be great to make and decorate with younger children, and you can make it a family activity to make them and distribute them to friends and family.

Happy holiday baking to you!


PoetLady said...

I know New Year's isn't Christmas but any chance you want to make some again around Dec 31st? My kids really enjoy decorating cookies! I hope to some before Christmas but the time is getting near. It's up to you but either way, I am sure your nieces and nephews would like it:)

You made some really pretty ones. I am glad you are gettin cooking time, since you miss it.

Your oldest sister,

Ella said...

What fun! Tomorrow and Tuesday will be all about baking for me!!

Jody said...

Yummy! I am going to TRY to make sugar cookies this week sometime. My holiday baking has been severely hindered by this pregnancy! Usually I have turned out pans of cookies of all kids by now but alas, none have been abked yet. Hopefully I can get at least a couple batches of sugar cookies baked and decorated before Christmas.

Glad you are enjoying your break!

Alicia said...

Yum! The recipe sounds delicious! I would agree that gingerbread cookies are definitely better than sugar cookies. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my. They are rather cute. :D

My family, being very Norwegian, has made gingerbread ever since I can remember- hearts, angels, boys, girls, bears, bells, presents, trees... And every year, we make a gingerbread house. We've done barns, train stations with trains, teepees, silos, porches... I will try to remember to post pictures next week (after the nisser come).

Norwegian tradition holds that every household well prepared for Christmas should have seven kinds of treats for Christmas Eve- we usually manage at least six!


Anna Naomi said...

Maria: If we have time while you're here, it would be fun to do!

Ella: I enjoyed reading about your treats!

Jody: Pregnancy can hinder things, but it will be worth it in the end. =) Just make sure you rest and do what you can. (I'm sure you've heard the advice before!)

Alicia: Agreed. =)

Maria: I should really try to make a gingerbread house sometime. We've done it in years past, but never a homemade one. I think we may have used graham crackers or something. 7 different sweets for Christmas Eve... wow - but yummy!

Gabriela said...

Wow, amazing. They look tasty.

An Ethereal Forest of Stars said...

I don't have any molasses, I'd like to bake these today though. I'll give it a try right now :)

An Ethereal Forest of Stars said...

I just made them. They're almost gone already? :) Very yummy. However, I did not have any ground ginger, so I grated some fresh ginger root and added allspice. They are very tasty!

Again thanks for the recipe Anna!