Dec 11, 2012

Gingerbread cookies

I've done research about gingerbread cookies, hands on. I do it every year. This is my first try this year. The recipe is called "Gingerbread Cookies 101", and it has the most positive reviews. I had to make something good, because Hania needs to take some to school. I don't want her to feel bad about bringing bad cookies prepared by an incapable mom.

I've read the top 10 reviews to get some tips. One complaint was that they were lacking taste. So I played with ingredients a bit, I added some, I eliminated some. I added vanilla and lemon zest,  I reduced ginger, I eliminated pepper. Last year, I made gingerbread cookies with's not for everybody.

It's an American recipe, it had American ingredients such as vegetable shortening and molasses that I don't find here easily. I just used butter and honey instead.

The recipe is easy, but the dough has to rest in the fridge for at least three hours or overnight. So it needs some planing ahead. Planing is always a big advantage anyway, half of the work is done by planing.

Rolling the dough, cutting the shapes, baking and cooling the cookies is an all-evening activity. I made over a hundred pieces. My kitchen is basically in the leaving room, so I'm not isolated from the world. Sometimes that's a plus, but most of the time it's not.

The cookies are addictive, hard to eat just one or two...OK, six. They are crunchy and crispy but not hard like those thin Swedish gingerbread cookies. They didn't change overnight, I kept them in air-tight cookie jar. They taste fantastic, just like Christmas. Last night I had some with Gl├╝hwein...a perfect, relaxing night cap.

Recipe adapted from Foodnetwork

12 Tbs (180 g) butter, room temperature
2/3 cups (180 g) brown sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cups (227 g) honey
1 egg, room temperature
3 cups (450 g) flour
1 teaspoon (8 g) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon all spice, ground
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt and all the spices together.
Cut the vanilla bean longwise and scrape the inside with a knife.

Using a standing mixer, beat the butter for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Beat some more till fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add honey and one egg to the butter mix. Combine it.
Add the flour mix to the mixing bowl. Mix slowly all the ingredients till stiff mass forms.

Dived the dough in two, form two discs and place them in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 177 C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take the dough out. If you kept it over night, take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before rolling.
Roll one disc on the rolling board to about 1/8 inch (3 mm). You can roll it thicker, the cookies will be softer. Use enough flour (additional) so the dough doesn't stick to the board. Cut out your favorite shapes. Transfer the shapes onto the baking sheets.

The recipe said to position the two baking sheets in oven, one in the top 1/3 of the oven, the other one in the bottom 1/3. But I only had one sheet of cookies ready at the time. I didn't wait for the second one. They take a short baking time, so it goes fast anyway. Keep your timer close by.

Bake for  about 8 minutes, till the edges slightly browned. Rotate the sheet half way through baking (after 4 minutes). That's necessary. Let the cookies cool on rack. 

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