Posted by: A Part of the Solution | December 24, 2013

Gingerbread Cookies, Filled or Flat

Usually, I just take Smitten Kitchen‘s word for it. Making gingerbread this holiday season, I chose that path. And I have now adjusted the recipe so it will accomplish my objectives more clearly. Here’s the thing, the SK gingerbread cookie is really Martha Stewart‘s gingerbread cookie. Both ladies are excellent sources of reliable baked goods. But I do believe there’s just too much cinnamon in that there cookie dough.

Without all the cinnamon, one may readily rein in the powdered clove–since there’s a balance one wishes to achieve. Not that I have anything, anything at all, against flavorful gingerbread. Yet I don’t want my mouth numb and tasting like a pack of classic Trident set up shop after eating a holiday cookie.

This gingerbread is very workable, and even prone to ‘crispness’. Since I have a fetish for filling things with things, the drier dough is very much to my specifications. If you only want to cut out simple shapes (ie not snowflakes or articulated reindeer), go ahead and add another stick of butter. Really.

If you have modest holiday cookie needs, you can cut this recipe in half. You’ll still have quite a few cookies, however thickly you may roll them. For a chewy centered cookie, roll these nearly 1/4″ thick. For the filled cookies, roll the dough as thinly as your nerves and work surfaces will support.

The vegan version is folded into the main recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 sticks butter or Earth Balance or Spectrum Shortening (if you use a ‘shortening’ style fat, you can cut your fat usage back by 1 oz, 8 oz, room temperature

1 cup, 7 oz, brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature OR 3 tablespoons flax seed meal beaten until thick and foamy (an immersion or mini-blender is good here) with 5 tablespoons water

1 cup unsulphured molasses, or 1/4 cup honey + 3/4 cup blackstrap, British protectorate types might enjoy Treacle instead

6 cups,29 oz, unbleached flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 tsp powdered ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp finely ground black or white pepper

1/2 tsp powdered clove

Cream the fat and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time (or the flax seed meal goop in two parts), and beat well-in until smooth and glossy. Add the molasses and beat until your mass is thick and uniform. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until fully combined.

Divide the dough into two equal portions. Flatten each portion of the dough into a rectangle and wrap it very tightly. Let it rest in the fridge at least two hours, and up to four weeks (in the case of longer storage, make the second layer of wrapping around your dough an air-tight aluminum foil arrangement).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle a little flour on a length of kitchen parchment. Lightly flour your portion of unwrapped dough on both sides. Lay another length of kitchen parchment over your gingerbread dough. Using a rolling pin, or a straighter sided wine bottle, roll your dough from the center to the edges, and around the edges to even the depth of the dough without any of that characteristic, but utterly *wrong*, back-and-forth rolling pin motion beloved of commercials and comedy skits.

For filled cookies, the dough should be 1/8″. For regular, try 1/4″. If you’re filling the cookies, simple shapes (circles, hearts, diamonds, gingerbread girls) are the best.

To fill the cookies, put a small teaspoon of filling at the center of the cookie. Wet the edges of the base cookie with a fingertip dipped in water. Give the top cookie a final pass with the rolling pin to stretch it slightly. Arrange the top cookie over the filling and base cookie carefully to line the two cookies up as closely as possible. Using the tips of a fork’s tines, press the two cookies together around their circumference.

Bake these, and the fatter roll of cookies, about 14 minutes. For thin, wafery cookies, bake them only 8 minutes. Allow them to cool 3 minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

Easy Royal Icing

1 egg white, beaten ’til foamy

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 3/4 cup, 6.5 oz, sifted confectioners sugar.

Beat the egg white with the lemon juice and stir in the confectioners. This is thick enough to pipe onto fully cooled cookies. It also takes color beautifully. You might substitute ginger juice squeezed from freshly grated ginger for the lemon juice.

Dragées, jimmies, sprinkles, red hots, chopped holiday fruit and sugar-of-color all do best to go on the cookies before baking.

These stay fresh five days in a cookie tin with a tightly fitting lid.

Sugarplum Filling

1 20 oz can crushed pineapple

2 oz dried tart cherries

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup apple cider

1 pinch salt

3 TBSP, 1 1/2 oz, unsalted butter

In a heavy bottomed, 2 to 3 quart saucepan, bring the first five ingredients to the boil. Boil on medium high for 5 minutes. Boil on medium for 10 minutes. Continue boiling on medium low for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the butter, cut into chunks, off the heat. Let the mixture cool completely before storing in the fridge to use as cookie filling, or topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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