Cooking with Alison

Crisp and Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies Recipe (and DIY Gingerbread Decorations)

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts, DIY and Crafts on December 7, 2014 at am

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I hated gingerbread until two years ago, when my friend Allan made delicious chewy gingerbread cookies for his naughty cookie decorating party (see the photos of our x-rated cookies here).  Last year, I fell even harder for gingerbread when I discovered this recipe for wonderfully crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies.  They were addictive!  I made more batches of mini gingerbread men than I could count and turned some of them into decorations for my family’s Christmas tree (see below for how to make gingerbread ornaments and garland).  They made the tree smell delicious.  Thank you to the White family for sharing this recipe with me.  For an even better gingerbread idea, see not martha’s gingerbread mug decorations here.  They are mini gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of mugs!!!  I can’t wait to make these next year!

Party Tips:  

Whenever I’m organizing a holiday party or dinner that will be attended by children, I like to provide crunchy and plain gingerbread cookies, assorted holiday coloured candies (gumdrops, mints, sprinkles, crystal sugar, nonpareils, etc.), and homemade royal icing (sometimes in different colours) for the kids to decorate gingerbread cookies.  Prior to the kids’ arrival, be sure to transfer the royal icing to piping bags that have been fitted with piping tips and tightly sealed with an elastic band tied around the opening.  I’ve also done this for holiday pot lucks where even the ‘big kids’ decorated cookies.  Be sure to provide ribbon and scissors if the kids will be decorating gingerbread ornaments or garland.  Alternatively, you could make a single plain gingerbread house and allow everyone to decorate the house together.  You could even provide several gingerbread houses, or have guests bring their own, and organize a gingerbread house decorating contest.  See my contest winning gingerbread house here.  And for my favourite gingerbread idea, see here for mini gingerbread house mug decorations.

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Some examples of candies that work well for decorating gingerbread men

 

Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

adapted from Martha Stewart; this recipe makes several dozen mini gingerbread cookies

1 cup dark molasses

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

4 teaspoon ground ginger

4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

scant 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into individual tablespoons

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 cups sifted all purpose flour  (Note:  Sift the flour first and then measure out 6 cups of the sifted flour.)

Set up a double boiler on your stove top.  Place the molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, and salt into the bowl that has been set up in your double boiler.  Bring the water to a rolling boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.  Use a rubber spatula to stir the ingredients frequently until they are smooth.  When the sugar melts, stir in the baking soda until well combined.  Continue to stir occasionally to prevent burning.  When the mixture starts to form bubbles, remove the bowl from heat and add the butter.  Stir until the butter has completely melted.  Then stir in the eggs.  Using an electric mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the flour, one cup at a time, until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together nicely.  Then divide the dough into four portions.  Form each piece of dough into a flattened rectangle, wrap well using syran wrap, and then chill through in the refrigerator.  The dough can be made days in advance and the longer you keep the dough in the refrigerator, the better and more well rounded the flavour will be.

When you are reading to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Work with one piece of cookie dough at a time.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough until it is 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch in thickness.  If the dough is too thick, the cookies will turn out hard, not the desired crispy and crunchy texture.  Cut your desired shapes out of the dough using cookie cutters and transfer them to a silpat (silicone) or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  The scraps of dough can be gathered, chilled through, and then reused to make more cookies.  Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 9 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your cookies.  Be sure not to overcook them or they will go from crisp and crunchy to hard.  The cookies will brown slightly.  As soon as the cookies are done, remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Then decorate using icing and candy if desired.  These cookies are delicious plain.  Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.  They will last for at least a week.  Also, these cookies freeze well as long as they do not have any icing on them.

 
How to Make Gingerbread Ornaments and Garland
  
Step 1:
 
Prepare crunchy gingerbread cookies and cut out the desired shapes as per the recipe provided above.  Many different cookie cutter shapes would make great ornaments.  Just to name a few examples:  circles, candy canes, stars, trees, snowflakes, bells, snowmen, hearts, wreaths, animals, birds, gingerbread men, etc.  Prior to baking them, use a straw to poke out holes where you would like to tie a piece of ribbon, string, or twine to hang the finished ornament.
If you are making an ornament, only one hole is necessary.
   
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If you are making garland, you will need two holes.  You can either place the holes on opposite sides of the cookie (as shown below), or you can place them both in the centre and along the horizontal mid-line of the cookie (as shown on Honestly Yum).
   
  
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Step 2:
  
Bake the cookies as per the recipe above.  If desired, prior to the cookies cooling, use a toothpick or bamboo skewer in each hand to make small holes along the edge of the cookies.  This will give the appearance of stitching.  Otherwise, allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
  
Step 3:
  
Use royal icing and candies to decorate the ornaments as desired.  Allow the royal icing to dry completely and harden.
  
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Step 4:
  
If you are making a hanging ornament:
  
Thread a piece of ribbon, string or twine through the hole in your ornament.  See the photos below for my favourite way to do this.  Note that a thinner ribbon would be ideal.
  
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Then tie the ends into a tight knot.  Use a pair of scissors to trim the ends of the ribbon as needed.  You are now ready to hang your gingerbread ornament.
   
If you are making garland and you put holes into opposite ends of your cookies:
  
If your cookies are large, or if you are making a very long garland, or if you have limited amount of ribbon, string, or twine, thread pieces of ribbon, string or twine through the hole on the right hand side of one of your gingerbread cookies.  Then thread that same piece of ribbon through the hole on the left hand side of another gingerbread cookie.  Tie the ends of the ribbon in a tight knot or bow.  Use a pair of scissors to trim the ends of the ribbon as needed.  You should have now attached two cookies using one piece of ribbon, string or twine.  Repeat this by attaching more cookies to both ends of your cookies until you have reached the desired length.  For the end pieces, be sure to use pieces of ribbon that are long enough that you can use it to hang the entire garland up.  See an example photo here.
  
If your cookies are small, or if you are making a short garland, or if you have a very long piece of ribbon, string, or twine, take a very long piece of ribbon, string, or twine and thread it through all of the holes in your cookies.  To do this, start by threading the ribbon down through the hole on the left side of your first cookie in the garland.  Then from the back of the cookie, thread the ribbon up through the hole on the right side of your first cookie.  Add the next cookie to your garland by threading the ribbon down through the hole on the left side of the next cookie and back up through the hole on the right side of the second cookie.  Keep adding more cookies to the garland using the same technique.  Ensure that the cookies are evenly spaced apart.  Also make sure that you leave enough ribbon on both ends of the finished garland to hang the garland up.
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If you are making garland and you put holes into the centre of your cookies:
 
Take a very long piece of ribbon, string, or twine and thread it through the two holes of one of your cookies.  To do this, start by threading the ribbon from the back of the cookie through the left hole and out through the front of the cookie.  Then thread the ribbon down through the right hole of the cookie.  Looking down at the front of your cookie, you should be able to see a strand of ribbon between the two holes.  The ends of the ribbon should be pointing out the back of the cookie.  Keep adding more cookies to the garland by threading the ribbon through more cookies using the same technique.  Ensure that the cookies are evenly spaced apart.  Also, make sure that you leave enough ribbon on both ends of the finished garland to hang the garland up.  See Honestly Yum for a photo tutorial.
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