Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Cookie #3: Gingerbread Snowflakes

Hello again!

So this next cookie recipe was probably my favorite of all the cookies I've made this holiday season...and maybe ever. Seriously, they were that good (in my humble opinion). What cookies you ask? These Gingerbread Snowflakes...


Now normally, I'm not a huge gingerbread fan. I prefer chewy cookies, and I usually think of gingerbread cookies as being fairly dry and just kind of blah. But seriously, you should give these cookies a chance because they may just make you a gingerbread convert.

I actually got the inspiration to make these cookies from one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes and Cashmere, because she raved about them and made them sound really delicious. She cut hers out into these gorgeous little sparkly snowflakes, and while I was reading her post I was wondering where she got her adorable snowflake cookie cutter. At the bottom of her post she mentioned the cookie cutter was from a set from Crate & Barrel that had cookie cutters for all the seasons. I thought, now why does that sound so familiar?

Umm maybe because Cam and I registered at Crate and Barrel and I got the exact same set as a wedding gift and haven't ever used it...whoops. Well, I decided it was fate and that I had to make these cookies, so I dug out my cookie cutter set, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work.

The recipe for the cookies actually comes from good ol' Martha Stewart (and I noticed that another one of my favorite bloggers recently made the same recipe!), and it's fairly simple to make, but it does require a few more ingredients than you may normally have on hand. 

Gingerbread Snowflakes

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
  5. Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour.
These cookie get their wonderfully spicy flavor from these five ingredients:


(How funny is that Brer Rabbit Molasses? It totally reminds me of Splash Mountain at Disney World!)


Like any rolled cut-out cookie, it's important to chill the dough before rolling it out.
 

Now in Martha's recipe, she makes larger cookies but any size cookie cutter will work. The fun part comes after the cookies are baked—decorating! These cookies are decorated with royal icing, which can be a little bit tricky if you've never worked with it before, but it's definitely worth the effort for the beautiful finished product. Martha's royal icing calls for egg whites, but I've typically made royal icing with meringue powder and that's what I did for this recipe as well. Meringue powder is not an item that you'll typically find in your grocery store, but most craft stores will carry it in the cake decorating section (I got mine at Michael's). The thing with royal icing is that it dries very hard, which is great for doing intricate designs and putting together cookie trays, however, it will also dry out when you're making it if you're not careful! I actually ended up using this recipe from Annie's Eats, and I was really happy with the consistency. She's also got some great advice about how to make royal icing come out perfectly.

Royal Icing
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats 
 
Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.

Now true confessions, I took cake decorating classes back when I was in high school because I was really that dorky cool. But it's been forever since I've done anything like that, and I'm extremely out of practice with a piping bag. I actually just bought a set at Target that came with 4 metal decorating tips and a bunch of plastic pastry bags and I'm pretty sure it was only like $7, but obviously you'll find more of a variety of tips and supplies at a craft store with a cake decorating section. Now I loved how delicate C&C's snowflakes came out and I planned on emulating that same look with my cookies. But it didn't quite turn out that way...the decorating tip I used was much thicker and it took me a while to figure out how I was going to make it work. I ended up doing a little bit different design with thicker lines, but I was actually really happy with how it came out and I love the whimsical look.


Once I got the hang of decorating, I went to town! (And yes, I did sanitize my counter before doing this!) I topped my cookies with some silver sugar that I found at Target, and I thought it was the perfect finishing touch.


These cookies are dense and surprisingly chewy, and the spicy flavor is seriously addicting. Gingerbread is obviously a classic Christmas flavor, but I think cutting the dough out into snowflakes instead of people is a fun, modern change of pace. Happy baking! Xoxo

2 comments:

  1. So pretty!

    http://chicgeekery.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. so beautiful! and they look delicious =]

    ReplyDelete

Your sweet words make my day! :)

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