I used gingerbread cookies as a fun and playful way to get to know my niece and nephew when I met them for the first time. I baked a few gingerbread men for them, and asked them what they thought of the designs. My little nephew is just a year old, so I didn't use any egg in the gingerbread dough.
We're finally back from a few days in Rome and now are spending Christmas with my parents and my sister's family in Paris.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Servings: 34 cookies
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
¼ cup honey
3-½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon green anise seeds, ground to a fine powder
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest
6 tablespoons milk orange icing
(click on the link for the recipe), see tips
colored decoration sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Sift the dry ingredients.
Make sure the butter is softened to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with granulated sugar (whisk using a standmixer to get as much air as possible in the butter). Add the brown sugar, all the spices and the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Place a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Spread the sandy cookie dough onto the mat. Place another silicone mat on top of the dough like a sandwich. Even out the dough using a rolling pin to about a ¼"-½" thickness. Plastic wrap the tray and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the first layer of the silicon mat. Get several cookie cutters and cut the cookie dough.
Bake the cookies for 5 minutes at 375°F; decrease the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for 7 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely to room temperature. They will harden and get firm as they cool down.
Drizzle with orange icing and sprinkle with sugar. Let the icing harden completely.
Shaping the cookie dough with cookie cutters isn't necessary but it gives a bubbly characteristic outside edge of the typical gingerbread cookies. Or you can simply form logs, place the dough in the refrigerator and cut as you would any other log cookies.
If you like, you could also make homemade christmas cookie ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree. Prior to baking the gingerbread cookie, punch a hole at the top of each cookie, using a straw. This is where you will tie a string after the cookie is baked and brought back to room temperature. It's edible and so pretty!
Another cool idea is to simply hang the cookie cutter itself as well on your tree by attaching a colorful red ribbon. Voilà!
Prior to grinding the green anise seeds, dry roast them for more flavor. You can find green anise in specialty stores or online.
Sifting dry ingredients helps get rid of lumps of flour and aerates the mixture when liquid is added. It's an important step for all your baking so you get a nice result.
For the orange icing, simply replace the carrot juice with pulp-free freshly squeezed orange juice.