Life has been mad hectic! So busy am I that I often sleep only 4-5 hours of sleep a day. So busy that I occasionally check myself in the mirror only to notice that my hair has visibly grown longer since the last time I remembered and my eyebrows have gone all shapeless! So busy am I that i must have tried and tweaked a dozen or two recipes since and yet have none recorded down here. 😲
So, I’m sorta in a panic mode now as I type this as I believe I have bookmarked several recipes that I felt were worth keeping but I have tweaked and I will be relying on my goldfish memory’s to replicate my previous results.
Anyway, first up: gingerbread cookies.
Now, before I baked this, I have eaten gingerbread cookies maybe… Thrice in my entire life? You see, my first brush gingerbread cookie was a bad experience. It did not go well with my tastebuds. It was spicy, more bitter than sweet, and the bite was chewy. Although, in retrospect, I suspect the chewy part was due to the cookie turning stale since it came off a corporate hamper. I could not remember exactly how it was like second round, but I knew it was not far from my first impression. And then, came the third time. Which was a month ago.
A close friend had just given birth to her third child and we brought our two girls to visit her & baby. Her husband and two older kids were there as well. At one point, I shepherded the kiddos to the bakery within the hospital’s premise for pick up some pastries for my dear friend and got the kids to pick a little treat for themselves. The oldest one picked a gingerbread cookie (a tiny 5cm x 5cm shaped star which costed me $5.90!!) and then all the other children followed suit. I was doubtful that they would like it but boy did they enjoy it. I was intrigued and asked to take a bite off one of my girls’ cookie. I could see why it was delish! It was thin & crunchy, it was sweet (too sweet for me, actually) and it was dark colored (you know how kids always associate dark colored pastries to yummy chocolate flavor?) and the flavor of spice was enough to blend nicely with the sweetness.
And so, I decided to try baking some for the kiddos.
I found a recipe (Source: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/9761/gingerbread+men ) that have received many review good reviews and did some tweakings. The result yielded was crunchy, sweet enough for the kids and my liking, and the tint of spice complemented the molasses very well, exotic without being overpowering, leaving an almost undetectable hint of heat in your mouth after eating. I changed the original use of syrup to molasses as I read some where before that molasses makes nicer gingerbread cookies (both in taste and visually). Well, I do not have a basis of comparison but I like what I tasted!
Yield: 20-25 cookies
- 125g butter, at room temperature
- 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
- 100ml molasses
- 1 egg, separated
- 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Plain flour, to dust
- 150g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon orange / vanilla / lemon extract
- red powder food colouring
- Green powder food colouring
1 egg white = 2 teaspoons of meringue powder + 2 tablespoons of water
- Preheat oven to 175°C.
- Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the molasses and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- Meanwhile, place egg white in a clean, dry bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Divide icing among 3 parts. Transfer 1 part into a piping bag and place in the fridge. Add red colouring to 2nd part in a bowl and stir until combined. Add green colouring to remaining bowl and stir until combined. transfer both green and red icing into separate piping bags and place in the fridge.
- Place the cookie dough between 2 sheets of baking / wax paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. (Note: I noticed that this dough works easier after putting the dough out to cool till room temperature after refrigeration) Use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays slightly apart. Repeat with any excess dough.
- Decorate with the royal icing. (Note: royal icing decoration may be done after cookie is baked. Simply let the cookie stand to dry after decoration. I prefer to decorate the icing sugar before baking so that the raw egg whites get ‘cooked’ in the oven as well since I have small children and immunity-suppressed elderlys among whom will be eating the cookies).
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Blessed Christmas, everyone! May you be filled with love, joy & hope this season and in every new day.