December 7, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

Last month's book club, though a bust book-wise, was pretty delicious in the food category.  Bite-sized gingerbread cookies were a big hit, and knowing our dad's obsession with and eternal hunt for "the best gingerbread," we knew we needed to make these as our contribution to the annual family Thanksgiving feast.

You can find the recipe in Jenna Weber's "White Jacket Required," but a few minutes of internet sleuthing can save you a few dollars.  The recipe is actually for cookie sandwiches filled with chocolate buttercream but... we like our gingerbread plain, thankyouverymuch.  The ingredients list is rather simple, with one "secret" touch- a bit of white pepper.


Making cookie dough doesn't typically require any heat (till the baking part, of course), but this recipe was a whole new experience- the dough is actually made stovetop.  It starts out with boiling brown sugar and a whole bunch of spices together- this is the crucial step for building that rich and spicy flavor base.


The real fun comes when the baking soda is added- two teaspoons of it created a rapid transition from thick and bubbly to frothy and light- I literally felt like I was stirring a pot of brown marshmallow fluff.  So weird!


Here the pot comes off the heat and two sticks (two sticks!) of butter are melted in one piece at a time.


Adding the cold butter helps cool things down, and the flour pulls everything together into a slightly sticky but workable dough.  We pulled out Mom's ancient rolling pin and rolling surface and added a bit of flour.


A took on the rolling job and used a small glass to cut perfect circles out of the 1/4 inch dough.  It would be fun to make other shapes as well, but we loved the bite-sized option.  Uncooked, the gingerbread dough is very dark and shiny.


Ready to bake! The recipe calls for 12 minutes at 325, but our book-club friend did plenty of experimenting and determined that six minutes made a perfect, chewy cookie.  If you prefer a crispy cookie (like a gingersnap!), follow the 12 minute rule.


The cookies don't expand much so you can actually place them a little closer together on the cookie sheet than we did.  Cool on the sheet for a minute and then transfer to a cooling rack, as usual.


These cookies were a huge hit with our family, especially with the padre.  The cooking process was a lot of fun and they really produce a delicious, spicy and chewy gingerbread perfect for the holidays.

Our dad did suggest we really up the ante by trying a really high quality molasses and the best quality spices we can find.  The cinnamon we used was a fancy version from Penzeys, but the rest were just generics.  I guess we'll have to try again!


These are a perfect cookie for a holiday party, your Christmas dessert table, or a cookie swap- they're fun (but very simple!) to make and doubling or tripling the recipe would produced plates and plates of cookies (good for gifting!).  We love soft, chewy, spicy gingerbread, and will be making these for years to come.

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