I could spend a lot of time explaining where exactly I’ve been for the last eight or so months (my one blog post mid-summer doesn’t quite fill that gap), but it is probably summed up best by saying that this September I gave birth to two beautiful little girls, and that our lives have been, quite properly, turned upside down.
Understandably, my time in the kitchen has been so disconnected, for many months I didn’t know where anything was, the state of the pantry and spices was a disaster (no really–don’t ask me about moths *shudder*) and the baking sheets long ago fell behind the stove.
Slowly but surely, I am dusting off the mixing bowls and remembering how to turn on the oven. This IS the season, after all, for playing around in the kitchen!
In that fun and festive mood, I made a batch of gingerbread cookies to hang on the tree, something I do every year. Their delicious, spicy aroma lingers for weeks and weeks and will make wherever you hang them smell amazing. Just make sure you make enough so you can sneak one every day, as a little Christmas present to yourself.
Honey Gingerbread Cookies
Deliciously fragrant with festive spices, the honey in this recipe makes these cookies a little bit sweeter, crisper, and lighter than does the traditional molasses. They bake up into a very pretty honey-brown colour, and the dough yields nicely for rolling and cutting out into shapes.
Yields about 45 cutouts (my cutters are about 2-3 inches long)
adapted from Canadian Living
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup honey (you can also use the more traditional molasses)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and brown sugar. Once mixed and fluffy, add the egg and honey. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Work into the
honey mixture slowly. By the end, you’ll have to use your hands to work it all in–it will be a dry, stiff mixture.
Knead a few times together into a smooth ball. Separate dough into three pieces; flatten into rectangles. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. (You can keep the dough in your fridge for up to a week.)
Once ready to form your cookies, sit dough out on the counter until pliable enough to roll out. Between sheets of parchment, roll dough outuntil about 1/4-inch thick. Flour your cutters and cut out your cookies. [At some point in the rolling process, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.] Ball together the scraps and re-roll and cut out more. And again and again, until your dough is used up!
Place cutouts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. To create a hole for hanging, I like to use the end of a bamboo skewer. Use your tool of choice here. Bake for 15 min for crispy cookies to decorate and hang on your tree, or about 10-12 for softer cookies just for eating. Cool on a rack. If you’re inspired and want to decorate, here’s the recipe for Royal Icing.
from the Joy of Cooking
Making decorating icing can be a messy task, but this recipe is nice and simple, and doesn’t make an overabundance, so you’re not using a mountain of icing sugar. (Unless you want to–then feel free to double or triple the recipe.)
yields 1/2 cup icing
Ingredie1 1/3 cups (divided) icing sugar
1 egg white
In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix the egg white and 1/3 cup icing sugar until well combined. Microwave for 30 seconds. [This step is to heat the egg so the icing doesn't pose a salmonella risk.]
Beat in 2/3 cup icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Add up to another 1/3 cup to make it as stiff as you’d like. You can keep the icing in the fridge for a few days, if you’d like–but make sure to cover it with a damp tea towel so it doesn’t dry out.
Decorate your cookies–scatter them with glitter, too, if you’d like–let them dry, thread, and hang on your tree and enjoy the fragrance!