Whenever I am feeling sad, or confused or disheartened, I tend to bake cookies. For me, they are the go-to, fail-proof option. Not to mention, people say “I’m not much of a cake person” or “I don’t really like ice cream”, but no one I’ve ever met says that about cookies. Chocolate chip are my non-holiday favorite, but when it gets cold and decorations come out, my holiday sugar cookie recipe and these gingerbread cookies dominate. As I’ve been having a low cooking-confidence week, I decided a successful cookie batch was just what the doctor ordered- boy was I right!
Last year, around Thanksgiving, my mom bought the December issue of Sunset Magazine. It had this whole spread of cookies and I must confess…I think we tried making almost all of them. These were my favorite by far. A word of warning…the gingerbread packs a wallop of spices in every bite- just how I like my gingerbread. I recognize that not everyone wants their taste buds inundated in that way however, so I decided to add the icing from the holiday sugar cookies. Best cooking gamble I ever made. I also make them way fatter than the recipe calls for and in fun holiday shapes. It makes less cookies (the original recipe says 100, which is just silly). If you follow the recipe you’ll end up with gingersnaps (which are great as the outside of ice cream sandwiches), but my way gives you a more gingerbread-like consistency (which clearly I prefer). Here is the recipe: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000001940836
One final note- as with all cookies that require refrigeration, rolling out, and cutting into shapes, I make these over the span of two nights. Especially during the week, it’s impossible and too daunting to try and do them in one day.
First, I start by beating together the sugar and the butter.
Then I added the molasses and the egg and mixed again.
Then, in a separate bowl, I mixed together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices.
Next, I slowly added the flour mixture to the large bowl, beating it all together. By the end, the dough can get really thick and I had to switch from my beaters to mixing by hand.
I then split the dough and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Then I flattened each half into a circle to make sure it cools evenly. At this point you can put them in the fridge for three hours or overnight like I did.
The next night, I took out a big wooden cutting board and sprinkled floor on top (the dough sticks to the surface pretty easily when you are rolling it out so use flour LIBERALLY. It won’t ruin the dough). I then rolled out the dough to just over a 1/4 of an inch thick and cut out shapes. I cooked each tray for about 8 minutes. ALWAYS take cookies out just before you think they are done because they will continue to cook and harden as they cool.
Once the cookies were done, I let them cool complete on wire racks. When I was completely done I had two full racks like this- so it makes a big batch!
When the cookies were cool, I whipped up some frosting. Whipped is sort of a misnomer. Really, I put some powdered sugar in a bowl, add a few drops vanilla and then a little milk, stir, and add more milk. I keep adding milk a few drops at a time until it’s the right consistency. You want it to be spreadable but not too runny or more of it will fall off the cookie than stay on.
Then I frost the cookies! As I look at the picture now, I’m really amused at how much my frosting style says about me. I always leave a tiny border around the edge cause I hate when the frosting runs over and makes a mess. Control freak, yes- but look how pretty they are! They also taste amazing and really helped restore my confidence, in case you were interested!