Wednesday, December 22, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 51

Question:  What scent from the kitchen says Christmas like no other?

Answer:   Gingerbread!

This week's recipe, from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, made my house smell like Mrs. Claus' kitchen.  These undeniably holiday spiced cookies are so yummy, and, made small enough, allow you to pop more than one in your mouth without much, if any, guilt at all!  I especially love the pairing of gingerbread with lemon flavored icing which works as a bit of a decoration for my little trees.  I have a gingerbread recipe that I made once that also calls for a lemon curd topping.  Mmmm.  The flavors meld quite well together.

Make these sweet little trees.  Place several in a cute little Christmas Chinese take-out box or something equally cute and give them to a friend, a neighbor, the mail carrier, your church choir director.  Anyone you'd like to say "Merry Christmas!" to in a very special way.

Gingerbread Trees with Lemon Icing
Here's What You Need:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup unsulfered molasses
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

Here's What You Do:
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the egg and beat.  Next add the molasses.  Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients.  Once this is well combined, turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it up tightly.  Stick it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  It will keep for up to 3 days. 

Once you're ready to bake the cookies, let the dough sit out for about 30 minutes so the dough can soften a bit and become easier to roll out.  Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on the counter.  Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out to about a 1/4 inch thickness.  Now, the instructions say to cut the dough with a sharp knife into small 2 inch wide triangles.  I happened to have a small'ish tree-shaped cookie cutter and decided this would be a great substitution, not mention quicker and would also allow me to fulfill that uniform-shaped-cookie fetish that I own up to.

Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes.  Watch them.  The thinner your dough is rolled out, the quicker they will bake.  My first tray had thicker cookies on them and then when I re-rolled the dough, I rolled it a bit thinner and those cookies baked a lot faster  It means the difference between a soft cookie or a crisp cookie.  It could also mean the difference between an edible cookie and one that isn't fit for your pooch to eat!

Let the cookies cool completely.  Now you're ready to mix up the icing.  I am telling you, this is one of those times to use a fresh lemon for the juice rather than the stuff from a bottle.  The intense lemon flavor that I got mixing the fresh lemon juice with the powdered sugar was so yummy!  I just used a sharp, pointy knife to lightly skim back and forth with the icing.  It produced a cute little decorated effect to my gingerbread trees.  The recipe suggests also sprinkling some sanding or coarse sugar over the tops of the cookies too.  I didn't have any and didn't care to bother.  I think these cookies are simple and sweet enough as-is.

I think this recipe would do well if you wanted to cut out any smallish holiday shapes, such as gingerbread men. 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

This has been a fun experiment and there is just one chapter left on my year-long Cookie Journey.  Many people have asked me what's next?  "What will you do when your Cookie Journey ends?"  My kids have cast their votes, but the ultimate decision is mine.  I'll let you know next week during my final installment.

**Note**This post comes a bit earlier in the week than usual to allow you time to maybe actually bake these cookies this year, rather than print it off or bookmark it for Christmas 2011.  I also realize that by posting this on a Wednesday, it makes my Wordless Wednesday post a moot point, or as Joey on "Friends" called it, a "moo point."   

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