Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Spice, A Little Love

Had I but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.
William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost

We completed the fun task of decorating the gingerbread cookies today. Their fragrant spices filled the room. Olfactory hedonism.

We now have a herd of moose.

A caravan of camels and an army of smiling men. 111 cookies in total are now wrapped in Christmas bags ready for the bazaar. I've enjoyed this project in uncharted territory.

Here's the recipe for the tasty gingerbread and for the royal icing used to give them their individual characters:

Gingerbread Cookies
Yield: about 26 cookies

3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (175 mL) packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup (175 mL) cooking molasses
4 1/2 cups (1.125 L) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
3/4 tsp (4 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking powder
pinch salt

1. In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soad, cloves, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into molasses mixture in 3 additions, blending with hands and kneading to combine.
3. Divide into thirds and shaped into flat rectangles. Wrap each (not in wax paper!) and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 325F (160 C).
5. Between layers of parchment paper, roll out each rectangle to 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness. Cut out cookies. Arrange, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
6. Bake until firm to the touch and light golden on edges, about 15 minutes. (Only 12 minutes in Mom's oven, so keep an eye on them.) Transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Royal Icing
Yield: 1 1/4 cups (300 mL)

1/4 cup (60 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) meringue powder
2 1/4 cups (550 mL) icing sugar

1. In a bowl, beat water with meringue powder until foamy; about 2 minutes.
2. Beat in icing sugar until stiff; 3-5 minutes. Add up to 2 tbsp (30 mL) more water if necessary to make smooth icing for piping. (But you do want the icing to be stiff.)
3. Cover with damp cloth to prevent drying.

Source for both recipes: Canadian Living's "More Than 101 Holiday Cookies", Fall 2010.

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