Saturday, December 12, 2015

Favorite Recipes: Gingerbread Cookies for Christmas

I personally love, love SOFT, frosted gingerbread cookies.  My mom has been making this recipe my entire life, and she has perfected it...


I decorated these cookies as a girl, and am now doing it with our children, my siblings and their families.  What a joy.  *smile* Here are photos of our girls and I at my parent's house making cookies...



My mom cuts out gingerbread boys and girls, angels, Christmas trees, sheep, and candy canes.  We open up containers of about 8 different kinds of sprinkles and then try to have the kids sprinkle the cookies held over a paper plate for that particular sprinkle type.  This way after a while we can pour the extra sprinkles that fell off the cookie back in to the container to be used still.  So the red sprinkles should always be sprinkled over the "red sprinkles plate" so that the only thing accumulating on that particular plate are red sprinkles.  This usually works great, but when kids forget and end up with a multi-colored sprinkles plate (all the kinds mixed together! *laugh) then we use those, too, by dipping frosted cookies in to the mixture and we have a very creative-looking, colorful cookie.  *smile*  If you enlarge this photo you can see them.  This year my mom also purchased little frosting-made eyeballs to put on the gingerbread boy and girl
cookies. Here are our finished products!  All decorated with white frosting, and then coated with colored sprinkles of our choice and design. 



My mom fills freezer sandwich-size Ziplock baggies with frosting, adding cake-decorating tips to some of the baggies to make decorating easier.  On the other baggies she just cuts off a tiny tip of the baggie so we can squirt the frosting through.




Here's some of our group doing the decorating this year.  This is me with the healthy Shupe kids (the rest of the kids were sick and home with daddy).  We also had my sister-in-law, nieces and nephew, but my other 2 sisters and families were not able to make it this year.  




GINGERBREAD  COOKIE  DOUGH
Makes about 50 cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 Tbl. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. ground All Spice
  • 1 tsp. ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground Ginger
  • 6 cups Flour, divided

Instructions:

* Mix on low speed all the ingredients in a large bowl until just mixed.  Increase up to medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl with a spatula periodically.

* Gradually add the next 3 cups of flour, stirring it in with a wooden spoon to make a stiff dough.  OR, Mix for 4-5 minutes in Kitchen Aid mixer.  If in doubt, err on the side of over mixing. 

* Divide the dough in half and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 2+ hours (or use within 2 days).

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

* Take dough out of the refrigerator one package at a time to be used.  Kneed the dough with a bit more flour until it can be bent in half without breaking.  Then make sure you choose a flat (no wrinkles or cracks) side up and begin rolling

* On a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin roll half of the chilled dough in to 1/8 inch thick.  My mom uses Perfection Strips underneath each end of the rolling pin that the dough is always exactly this thickness, making the dough uniform and helping it bake uniformly.



* Half way through rolling the dough, check underneath to make sure it's not sticking and add more flour if it is.  Lift the top half (use a spatula if necessary to unstick it), then the bottom half.  If it's totally stuck then re kneed it and flour the surface again and try again.

* With a thin, metal spatula carefully arrange the cookies on lightly greased cookie sheets (or use parchment baking paper).  Use a basting brush to brush off the flour from the tops of the cookies prior to baking.  Bake for 8-19 minutes (depending upon the oven; my mom does 8 minutes) until the edges of the cookies are firm.  If using insulated pans they may need 9 minutes.  If cookies are crunchy at all they need to be baked for less time.

* Test for doneness by touching the top of the cookie.  A finger print should spring back up.

* After baking, immediately loosen each cookie from the sheet and place on wire baking racks to cool.  Repeat with the remaining dough.


DECORATING  FROSTING

Ingredients:
  • 3 3/4 cup + 2-3 Tbl. Powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Cream of tartar
  • 3 Egg whites

Instructions:

* In a small bowl with mixer at low speed beat the powdered sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites until just mixed.  Increase speed to high and beat until mixture is so stiff that a knife drawn through it leaves a clean path.

* Spoon frosting in to freezer sandwich-size Ziplock baggies and adds cake-decorating tips to some of the baggies to make decorating easier.  On the other baggies just cut off a tiny tip of the baggie so we can squirt the frosting through, making thin lines. 

* Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles of your choice, and let them sit out to dry for a little while.  


ADDITIONAL  COOKIE  TIPS

* If you need space for cookies to cool and you've used your cooling rack space, you can slide the cookies still on their parchment paper from the baking pan off on to a towel on a wood table.  As soon as the cooling rack cookies are cool (happens pretty quickly) then load those in to tins and move the parchment paper cookies onto the racks and reuse the parchment paper repeatedly.

* Make sure frosting is crunchy-hard before stacking them into the tins.

* You can freeze the completed cookies in four 12-inch metal cookie tins (plastic make the cookies droop), with round-cut pieces of parchment or wax paper (6 or so rounds per tin) in between each layer of cookies to keep them from sticking together.  The cookies hold their flat shape beautifully, but they are still soft to eat. Make sure all cookies are flat and not over-lapping.

* Round papers can be measured by tracing the bottom circle of the tin, and then I cut out 4-6 parchment paper rounds at a time.

* When tin is full, place a piece of Saran Wrap across the top of the tin before placing the lid on.


And with a cold glass of milk...it doesn't get better than this.  *wink*  *smile*


Merry Christmas,

You might also enjoy my related posts:
Christmas - Uncluttered
Large Family Christmas & Birthday Shopping
Gift idea:  Gifts In a Jar! - Sweet Homemade Happiness 

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