Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thick and chewy gingerbread cookies

I have a confession to make. I have never made gingerbread cookies prior to this. Why not? Well, my family and I never baked together, and I have an aversion to ginger. Gingerbread flavored things are a newly acquired taste, so it has never been a high priority of things to bake.

Last year, we were walking through the mall after the holidays and I noticed that cookie cutters were on sale at a kitchen store. Addie was with me and went bonkers when she saw the gingerbread man cookie cutters. She asked me to buy one so we could bake them together. I bought the cutter and promised her that we would make them together the following year.

And here I am, finally fulfilling that promise. Addie and I had a blast making these cookies, and they were easier than I expected. I was initially worried that I wouldn't have enough molasses for the cookies (they come out of the bottle pretty slowly, so I was getting nervous), and Addie's reply to me was, "Mommy. Don't worry. Just be patient. It will be OK." Of course, Addie was right, and I had enough molasses for the recipe.

We baked these for 8 minutes and they turned out great. When I went to decorate the cookies, Addie was very adamant that I make most of these girl gingerbread cookies. She wasn't too fond of the boy ones and told me that, "It's OK, Mommy. You get what you get." Alas, I still made some boy cookies just in case.

These cookies were not only fun to bake together, but they also tasted wonderful. When my husband returned from swimming, he commented that the house smelled good. He was right - the house was filled with the aromas of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Although Addie claimed that the raw dough tasted a bit spicy, she liked the cookies after they were baked. I wish I would have made these a bit thicker since they were still a bit hard for my tastes (I'm a chewy cookie fan), but that is something that I can do the next time I bake these with my little girl.

Thick and chewy gingerbread cookies
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) flour
  • ¾ cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 12 pieces
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
Frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons water (or milk)
Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Do this whisking by hand or with a hand whisk (if you use the electric mixer, the contents will fly everywhere). Add in the butter pieces and mix with the paddle attachment at low speed. Then add the milk and molasses and increase the speed to medium until all the ingredients are well combined. The dough will be fairly thick.

Transfer the dough to a clean working surface topped with a piece of waxed or parchment paper. DO NOT FLOUR THE SURFACE! Cut the dough in half and set one half aside. Add another piece of waxed/parchment paper on top of one of the cut pieces of dough. Use a rolling pin (or wine or soda bottle) to flatten the dough to about 1/4" thick. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or up to overnight. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the dough is chilled and has hardened, take one of them out of the refrigerator and use a cookie dough cutter to shape the cookies. Place the cut out cookies on a parchment-lined (or use a Silpat) cookie sheet.

Bake in your preheated oven for 8-9 minutes or until the centers are set. Do not overbake these!

Repeat with the remaining tray of dough. Dough can be re-rolled and re-cut, but make sure that you do not add flour to these when re-rolling. Simply put the excess dough in between the two sheets of parchment or waxed paper to roll out.

Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for about 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once cookies are cool, you can frost.

To make the frosting, simply mix the powdered sugar and water to form a thick frosting (you do not want this to be runny). Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag with a small circular tip or to a zip-top bag with a small hole cut in a corner. Pipe decorations onto the cookies and allow them to cool before serving or storing.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for several days.

Yield: I used a small gingerbread cookie cutter and got about 40 cookies

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

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