Saturday, 13 December 2008

Deck the halls with bows of cookies

I think I got a little carried away with the gingerbread tree decorations. No household of two people (an
d one cat) can realistically get through as many as I found myself making. Of course I could have made a half batch, but did I? Oh no, I just steamed ahead and in a few hours found myself surrounded by piles and piles of dark spicy gingerbread in all shapes and sizes!

Fortunately the biscuits should last a little while, and I'm off to visit the lovely lady K this evening and I'm sure she'll help me polish some off. The rest are destined for the tree (and lunchboxes). I am just hoping that Sniff doesn't suddenly decide that he not only likes gingerbread, but also wants to climb up the tree to get some.

I had great fun playing with my new royal icing that I picked up in the gourmet food store near my parents. I may like experimenting, but making my own seemed like far too much hassle, so I was very pleased when I stumbled across some. Be warned, there may well be a profusion of iced things coming out of the kitchen in the next couple of weeks because I had so much fun with it!

When I made up the recipe, which I adapted from the one I found here, I was a little unsure. It sounded good, but as I started I realised that actually 2/3 of a cup of molasses is ra
ther a lot, and I'm not really that much of a fan. The treacly smell coming off the dough was a bit much for me, and I was a little worried that it wouldn't mellow as it baked and I'd be stuck with mounds of cookies I wouldn't want to eat. Fortunately, once the dough had rested and the spices in it developed a bit it smelt lovely, and then again, when baked the molasses moved to the background and allowed the ginger and other spices to shine through against a mild toffee background. So yes, there's no fear, I shall be scoffing many, many of these over the next few days! I'm pleased I made the little stars because then I can eat five and not feel too guilty. Not that I'm the kind of girl to eat five cookies at once, oh no, that would be too crazy *looks sheepish.*

So I guess now you want the recipe? I did adapt it slightly, and next time might tone down the molassas even more, adding some golden syrup instead. But this definitely makes a strongly spiced dark gingerbread, that isn't too hard, but will hold up for tree decorations.
Gingerbread for decorations - makes, well, rather a lot really! If there isn't a large family to help you out you might want to half this.

3 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp finely ground pepper
1/2 cup butter
1/2 sugar

1 large egg
2/3 cup molassas

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices. In another large bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beat until combined, add the molassas and stir well. Gradually add the flour mixture until you get a stiff dough. Leave to rest for two hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheets with parchment (I used four in the end). Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut into whatever shapes you like. If you want to use them to hang on the tree make sure you remember to make a hole at the top for the thread to go through. I used a skewer for this. Gently place the cookies on the lined baking sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.

Allow to cool fully on a wire rack, and then ice. Once the icing has set, thread with string or ribbon and hang on the tree.

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