Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gingerbread cookies!!

Christmas cookies... There's something special about Christmas cookies. They aren't simply a cookie. At least not for my family... They're a bite of a season, a season of joy, laughter, happiness, family and friends. Everytime I bite into a gingerbread cookie my mind flashes back to memories of when I was a kid. I remember decorating a homemade gingerbread house when I was little with gum drops, icing, smarties, sprinkles, chocolate buds, all these candies my mom bought for me with the small bit of money she had. I loved it! We spent a whole day icing on roof shingles, sticking on goodies, and making mini stain glass windows out of those cute little orange slice shaped gum drop candies... I refused to eat the house for a good week because I thought it was so precious :P
Moments and memories like this are what Christmas is all about. The little things that make you happy are the things you remember. 

Now back to the gingerbread cookies... I've already made two batches of gingerbread this December and I've now found the perfect recipe which I will share with you guys today. I hope you enjoy them and they bring you Christmas cheer like they do me. 

Optional ingredients: 
Butter icing or icing/glaze of your choice
Mini candies/chocolates (smarties are great for gingerbread men buttons!!)
Sprinkles :)

Mix together:
3 cups white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
11/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Cream then beat until light and fluffy:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

Beat in:
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg

Gently stir in the dry ingredients until it sticks together. Have a small bowl of water next to you do you can spritz a bit of water into the mix if its just too dry. Now form it into a ball (it should be moist enough to stick together when compressed gently into a ball). Now put it into either a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. I thought my dough looked too dry so I sprinkled some water into my back onto the dough. 
Let the dough chill for at least two hours so the moisture can absorb and the dough can roll out. Take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before rolling it so it can warm and soften up.

Now. Take your dough out and break it in half. If it crumbles, you have a problem. If this is the case, wet your hands and gently knead the two pieces of dough, trying to make it moist enough so it will 
stick together gosh darn it!! I know this is annoying and tedious but all this work, care, and gentleness is what makes for perfect soft cookies. Once your dough is cooperating and sticking together, shape it into a ball and put it on a lightly floured table. 

Now roll it out to 1/6 to 1/4 inch thickness by rolling from the centre out. 

Here's the time to take out your trusty cookie cutters. Cut out your cutest, favorite shapes and put them on the cookie sheet. Now take your leftover scraps and mush them together and knead a little bit so it becomes a new ball. All throughout the cookie making process you should be gentle with the dough because the more you mix it, the tougher the dough will get. You should also try to maximize the number of cookies you can squeeze into each roll, again, so they don't get tough. 
Throw your cookies in the oven, trying to bake ones of the same relative side at the same time so some don't get cooked more than others. Bake them for 4-10 minutes. This depends a lot on your oven, cookie thickness, and size. You really just have to be careful to check them. Don't worry if you burn some, you'll get the feel of it soon :) Now you can repeat the process with your new ball of dough until you've cut up all the dough.
Take them out and put them on a rack to cool while you bake the others ones. Once they have cooled you can decorate them however your heart desires. This is totally the best part :D here's some of mine to give you some ideas. 

Hope you are all having a great Christmas!

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