This weekend was the most Christmas-y one that could be. Pre-Christmas, that is. I baked the Christmas cake, and it’s now happily soaking away in fruity rum. We spent a lovely afternoon in Bandra, buying our tree and ornaments and I found these adorable cupcake shaped ones! And of course, these gingerbread cookies finally happened.
I’ve been postponing them for a while because they take a few hours to finish but there’s no way I could have a Christmas-themed ten days without gingerbread!
Spiced, ginger-y, crunchy and chewy cookies. Some gingerbread men, some trees. Got a bit carried away frosting these as you can see 🙂
I used this Martha Stewart recipe for the cookies and this for the eggless icing. It was the first time I’d heard of ‘royal icing’, the stiff, white icing you usually see on gingerbread men. Traditionally, it uses raw egg whites but I couldn’t stomach the thought of that so luckily, this eggless version worked great.
The dough for these cookies is a bit fiddly. It requires chilling, and then freezing, without which the ultra-soft dough will just fall apart and if you’re trying to make shapes, both these steps are mandatory. I tried taking a shortcut and that did not work out! Luckily, there’s no need to knead (see what I did there?) and it comes together pretty quickly.
I did use molasses in the recipe, but honey is a great substitute. The molasses give the dough the traditional gingerbread colour though, so get hold of it if you can. Apparently it’s available at Crawford market.
I’ve frozen half the dough to make cookies out of next weekend too. And I’m going to try baking them for even lesser than 10 minutes to get them chewy. The ones you see here have crunchy edges and mildly chewy centers which is what I’ve usually seen at bakeries, but I’m going to try a different texture too 🙂 The ginger is prominent, the brown sugar and molasses together are a dynamite combination and the cookies have tons of flavour. Iced or not, these are awesome 🙂
And see the red Christmas themed background? They’re oven mitts from my Secret Santa. If you’re reading this, thank you for the AWESOME present!
What you’ll need:
For the cookies
2 cups flour
2 tsps dry ginger powder (I used Everest)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses/honey
1 large egg
For the icing:
3/4 cup sugar, powdered and sifted or just use packaged icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
Food colour, decorations as desired (I used chocolate chips to make the buttons on the gingerbread men and tiny silver sugar beads for their eyes. The tree-shaped cookies are frosted with green royal icing)
What to do:
1. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, if using. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, then add the egg and molasses. Beat well.
3. Add the dry ingredients and stir till a dough begins to form. Bring it together using your hands.
4. Sprinkle flour on a large sheet of clingfilm, place the dough on it and pat it into a roughly 8 inch square. Wrap well and chill for 1 hour till firm.
5. Unwrap the chilled dough and transfer to a floured sheet of baking paper. Don’t do this step directly on the kitchen counter as the dough is too soft to lift up.
6. Roll the dough out till it is 0.5 cm thick and even on all sides. Sprinkle flour as needed.
7. Lift the paper with the dough on it and freeze for 20 minutes. This is mandatory for you to be able to cut out neat shapes that won’t spread in the oven. Now preheat your oven to 140 C.
8. Cut the dough out into the shapes you like and place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes or till the edges get golden brown. Baking time will vary depending on big your cookies are.
9. Wait till the cookies have cooled, then stir the sugar and milk till a thick, smooth paste forms, and pipe onto the cookies the way you like. I added a teaspoon more milk to get it to the right consistency.
Aren’t they cute? 🙂 Package them up really pretty and they’ll make a great gift!