It’s that time of year! Santa Clause, Christmas Trees & Gingerbread Cookies

 

Snow capped trees and crisp winter days are what I dream about in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While it’s pretty much guaranteed that we won’t have a White Christmas in Dubai, the smell of fresh pine lingers throughout the house, courtesy of our majestically lit Christmas tree. Adorned with bobbles and ornaments from past and present, our tree stands proudly as the centerpiece of home during the month of December. 

With our kids anxiously counting down sleeps until Santa’s arrival (making sure they stay on his “nice” list), nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than pulling out my rolling pin and baking beautiful, festive treats. The smell of cinnamon and cloves can shift me into holiday mode almost as much as a snowstorm on a cold Canadian day.

A great Gingerbread cookie brings Christmas magic to life. I love when a recipe can showcase the science involved in baking, and this recipe does exactly that. Full of aromatic spices that are cooked to remove grittiness – get ready to watch a small volcanic eruption while adding the baking soda to the cooked spice mixture. I’ve made these time and again with my kids and their classmates, their little faces in awe, leaving them impressed every time!

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These cookies can last for several weeks in your pantry (when stored in an airtight container). They won’t last though – they’re so addictive that you’ll want to eat them all in one go!

You can decorate the cookies with royal icing, but they are equally as good without.

Gingerbread  Cookies

Makes 24 – 36 (depending on thickness)

Equipment:

  • Large Baking Trays, lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat
  • Gingerbread men cookie cutters (or any festive cookie cutter of your choice)
  • A piping bag fitted with a small nozzle to pipe icing (optional)
  • Heavy bottom stainless saucepan (minimum 4 quart capacity), large enough to accommodate all of your ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dark Molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 225 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 4 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Instructions:

Add molasses, sugar, and all the spices in a heavy bottom saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute.

Remove from heat and add your baking soda (the mixture will bubble up). This is the volcanic eruption, amazing every time!

Add your butter in four additions. Make sure that all of your butter is incorporated into the mixture.

Add the egg and mix well.

Mix your salt and flour together. Gradually add it to the molasses spice mixture. Mix until your dough comes together.

Divide your dough in two, and wrap in a clear plastic wrap. Let rest until cool enough to handle (20-30 minutes).

Preheat your oven to 160 F (325 C).

Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to approximately 1/8 th of an inch thick. (You can roll it out thicker if you like. A thin cookie will be crispy; a thick cookie will be soft and chewy).

Cut out desired shapes. Carefully transfer onto your parchment or Silpat lined baking tray. Your dough scraps can be rolled out twice for additional cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned and the centers are soft. Note that baking time can vary depending on the thickness of your cookie. You can start checking at the 8-minute mark.

Let cool completely before decorating with Royal Icing (optional).

Royal Icing Recipe (Optional):

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (dehydrated egg whites)
  • 4 cups of confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • A few drops of lemon juice (optional)

Using a standing or handheld mixer, combine all your ingredients and beat for 8-10 minutes until or until mixture is glossy and thick. Put icing in your piping bag or cover immediately as it dries out quickly.

Decorate your cooled gingerbread cookies as desired. Eyes, smiles and buttons!

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