Gone are the holidays that we traditionally associate with cookies, but coming all too soon is Valentine’s Day. This Valentine’s day I challenge you to woo him with Gingerbread cookies. So rarely does a recipe come along that gets gingerbread right for good cookies. Often the recipe gives you something too bread-like or to the other extreme it yields something dry and crunchy. Finding a recipe that gives you a soft but firm cookie, the way real gingerbread is meant to be makes you look like a domestic goddess. And really, we all know there are only two routes to a man’s heart…
And here is “the” recipe – here’s tip #1: read it all the way through in advance, and by that I mean like an entire day or two ahead of when you’re planning to bake:
1 ½C Unsalted Butter, slightly melted
1 ½C packed Dark Brown Sugar
1C Unsulphured molasses
3t ground Ginger
2t ground Cinnamon
1t All spice
½t ground Nutmeg
2t Baking Soda
½t Sea Salt
3C Unbleached white flour
3C Whole wheat flour
Bake @ 350 for 8 ½ minutes
So to put this all together you want to assemble in order of the recipe. Start by creaming your butter and sugar until nice and smooth; the two ingredients when correctly combined should be almost fluffy.
Keep working your way down the list giving the mixer time to integrate each ingredient fully before adding the next.
Once you have your dough, it’s going to look a little too sticky to believe it will ever roll out nicely – trust me – it will. What you want to do it divide it into four pieces roughly similar in size. Shape each piece into a round but flat Frisbee® type shape and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Place each package in the freezer for at least an hour.
Once your hour has passed, pull just one of the pieces out of the freezer and place on a well floured surface. At this point the dough should be dark and firm; no longer tacky at all. Once you start to roll the dough, it will get slightly more tacky the more it is worked over and begins to thaw, so make sure you have additional flour at hand to sprinkle directly on the dough. Even for this I use a mixture of unbleached white and whole wheat flouts.
Roll the dough out to ¼” thickness and cut with heart shaped cutters. To help you be sure of the thickness of your dough I recommend always using spacers (http://tinyurl.com/7j4ufxt). And, while it’s up to you what cookie cutters you use, I like a scalloped heart for Valentine’s day as it gives you a guide for interesting edges or lattice work when icing the cookies (http://cookiecutter.com/heartcrinkled25inb1144x.aspx) .
Bake your cookies for roughly eight and a half minutes, cool on cookie sheet for two minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely. Then you’re free to decorate as your heart desires. These cookies are good to be stored in a sealed container, so I would recommend using an icing like Royal that would set and work well in the same environment. Honestly though these cookies are so good, that you couldn’t possibly go wrong with any decorating selection.
Until next time ~ Happy baking!