Monday, December 22, 2014

Thick & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Yesterday was cold wasn’t it? That’s why I didn’t leave the house, cranked the oven & baked the day away. I found The Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe for gingerbread men cookies & I was really hoping it would turn out to taste like the cookies my former boss & owner of a small cafe in Little Italy in downtown NYC used to make. I gave them a shot, said a little prayer & achieved great success! These cookies are have just the right amount of spice that hit every note gingerbread cookies should sing. My favorite part is that they addictively chewy which I feel is really missing in a lot o gingerbread cookies that I’ve had. These were so good that my chocolate chip cookie-loving husband had to agree that they were really good (even if they didn’t have any chocolate in them).

I think the key to making these cookies a success is to follow the directions to a t. Chill your dough - don’t skip this part. When lifting your cookie-cutter shapes to put them on the baking sheet be gentle & use a metal spatula to place them on the baking sheet. Let the cookies cool - completely before attempting to ice them.

What’s your favorite gingerbread recipe? THIS is definitely mine!
(PS: I went a little photo happy so keep reading for more photos!)

Thick & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies (Recipe via The Brown Eyed Baker)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
  • ¾ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. 
  2. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1½ minutes. 
  3. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. 
  4. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.) (you can also do this in a food processor, get those directions here)
  5. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. 
  6. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll ¼-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. 
  7. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.) Or if it's cold where you live put it outside if the temperatures permit, just be aware of squirrels & other cookie snatchers - a big fat squirrel stole one of my cookies!!!
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. 
  10. Peel off top parchment sheet and lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and save the second parchment layer if you plan on baking more cookies that day if not scrap it. 
  11. Cut dough into gingerbread people or round cookies (or crabs & lobsters like I did!), transferring shapes to parchment-line cookie sheets with a wide metal spatula, spacing them ¾-inch apart. (I used a small offset spatula to move mine).
  12. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. 
  13. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time. Be careful when moving the trays around - I was a little aggressive and smooshed  some of the edges of my cookies. Do not overbake. 
  14. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.
  15. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in steps 11-14. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.
  16. Once cookies are cool, decorate with royal icing, if desired (see recipe below). I also added some fun edible glitter sprinkles & eyes made of sugar. Here is a good tutorial on how to ice your cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Royal Icing (Recipe via Joy of Baking)
  • 2 large (60 grams) egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Make it!
  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. 
  2. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. (The right consistency to cover or "flood" sugar cookies is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing. 
  3. Another test is to take a cookie and place a small amount of icing in the center of the cookie. 
  4. Using a small knife, push the icing to the edge of the cookie. If the icing runs off the edge, thicken the icing by adding a little more confectioners sugar. Conversely, if the icing is too thick, add a little water.) 
  5. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air.  Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.