The last time I made gingerbread cookies, Halloween skeletons to be exact, I may have said a few harsh words about the recipe. I just adore soft, chewy cookies and I had wrestled repeatedly with various gingerbreads until I finally got the results I wanted. I think my frustration with the process may have left me feeling somewhat uncharitable. I believe I called the recipe "fussy."
I admit it, I was wrong.
Apparently, if I take the time to follow my own instructions, they're really not so difficult. I wasn't wrong about the cookies themselves, though. While stuffing an entire tree in his face, The Kid volunteered that it was "more good than it looks," which may have been prompted by one of my mini-rants about goodies that look amazing, but taste dry and boring. (It's like a high calorie bait and switch. I do make an exception for gingerbread for houses, since they are a construction material, but lets start labeling the recipes as "for building" or "for eating!")
So here is a recap of this lovely, soft gingerbread. Just ignore what I said about it.
Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
(Click for printable recipe.)
3 C AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C nondairy margarine, i.e., Earth Balance, softened
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C molasses
2 Tbs orange juice
Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream margarine in mixer, then add brown sugar and beat together until light and fluffy. Reduce speed, then mix in molasses and orange juice. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Wrap dough in plastic and chill in refrigerator at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut parchment paper to fit cookie sheets. You will need 3 or 4 pieces of parchment paper if using standard half sheet pans. Generously flour one piece of parchment paper, and place about a third of the chilled dough onto the parchment. (Leave the remaining dough in the fridge.) Pat the dough down with with well floured hands, then roll it out to 1/4" thickness. Use cookie cutters of your choice to cut out shapes, leaving the cookies in place on the parchment. Carefully remove extra dough from around the cookies and reserve it, then carefully separate the cookies so that they are at least 1/2 inch apart. (A very thin spatula works well for this.) Gently slide the parchment paper onto a pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
As additional portions of dough are rolled out, knead reserved dough completely into the fresh and use less flour to roll out. All of the dough can be reused, but the last cookies may be slightly less tender.
After baking cookies, allow them to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then move to cooling rack. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.
I might have been wrong about the cookie recipe, but the icing did need serious improvement. Here's the royal icing recipe I'm currently using. I don't use egg replacer much anymore, but to me it still wins for this application, since there's no mucking about with corn syrup, cream of tartar, etc.
I skipped the fancy piping and just spread the icing on thickly with a spatula, then put sprinkles on immediately (before putting the cookie down!) so that the icing didn't have a chance to start firming up.
Allow icing to dry overnight, then keep in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers.
(Adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking, which has egg replacer in Every Single Recipe.)
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tbs water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 C powdered (confectioners') sugar
food coloring as desired
Combine Egg Replacer, water and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until frothy. Add powdered sugar and continue stirring until smooth. Mix in food coloring. (The trees pictured had about 4 drops of green food coloring.)
If needed, the thickness of the icing can be adjusted by gradually adding very small amounts of either water or powdered sugar.
In case you thought we'd forgotten all about tradition, we also made gingerbread dinosaurs. (It's just not a celebration without edible sauropods.) The Kid decorated most of those himself, but unfortunately they
I'm submitting my sprinkly trees to the Baking Bites Gingerbread Cookie Contest contest. You can see the rest of the cookie cutter madness at the contest Flickr pool.
A happy, sugary, holiday season to everyone!