December 19, 2010

Fun & Delicious Christmas Treat - Gingerbread Cookies!


Nothing quite says 'Tis The Season like gingerbread cookies!  Sweet and spicy, crispy and soft, they are the ultimate festive treat.  My mother, sister and I split up the Christmas baking each year.  We all have our favourites and happily share them amongst each other.  I'm always more than happy to take a tin of gingerbread cookies from my mom's house, for a fun afternoon of decorating with Aidan.  This year I decided to take over and make it myself, using mom's recipe of course!


Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1 egg
1 tbsp white vinegar

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and all spices in a small bowl.
  3. Using a mixer, cream margarine and sugar in a large bowl.  Add egg, molasses and vinegar to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture, stir until pieces of dough appear.
  5. Gently knead the dough , ensuring that all dry ingredients are absorbed.  Form dough into a ball and place back in the bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  7. Once the dough has been chilled, remove from the fridge and place on a floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness.
  8. Cut out festive shapes using plastic or metal cookie cutters, or have fun with some free-hand cutting.  Place the cookies on a non-greased baking sheet, at least a 1/2 inch apart.
  9. Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool completely on a baking rack.
  10. Once cooled, decorate using candy decorations and Royal Icing (recipe below), or serve plain.
  11. This recipe makes approximately 24 large cookies.
  12. Store baked cookies (undecorated) in an airtight container for 1 week in the refrigerator or for 1 month in the freezer.

Royal Icing

Ingredients:
2 large egg whites (or more to thin icing)
4 cups sifted icing sugar (or more to thicken icing)
1 lemon, juiced

Directions:
  1. Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Add sugar and lemon juice, beat for 1 minute.
  2. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites.  If the icing is too thin, add more icing sugar.
  3. Fill a pastry bag with icing and decorate gingerbread cookies.
  4. Store icing in a zip lock bag or air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

*TIPS*
1. 1/4 inch thick cookies will be crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside (perfect for dipping in a cup of tea).  Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness for a crispier cookie.
2. Instead of using Royal Icing to decorate your cookies, try brushing on a sugar glaze instead.  You will find a recipe on my Pumpkin Spice Scone post.  Brush the glaze on a cookie using a pastry brush and decorate with candy sprinkles.
3. You can make the dough ahead.  Refrigerating in an air-tight container for up to 5 days or overwrap with foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.
4. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can use a plastic sandwich bag instead.  Snip a small corner off the bag and decorate.  Plastic condiments containers are also a great tool, making it easy for little ones to squeeze out their own icing.
5. Increase the spices by 1/4-1/2 tsp each for a more flavourful cookie.


Have your kids mix the dough, help with measuring the ingredients, and decorate to their heart's content.  This is a great way to introduce your children to the world of giving.  Pack up a batch of cookies to give as a gift.  Start a new tradition in your home.  And don't forget to enjoy a few of these cookies yourself, over a hot cup of tea!


Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

2 comments:

Jennifer 'Zevalt' said...

Totally making these with Ethan!!! Thanks Shauna, I love your blog!

Shauna MacKenzie said...

Hi Jennifer, thx for stopping by! I'm sure Ethan would have a blast baking these. They're so easy and so much fun! I'm so glad that you're enjoying my blog. Thank you for your comment, it made my day :)