holiday cookie 1.0

It’s official.  It’s that time of the year.  December 1st has come and gone – and with it, the beginning of the holidays.

That means… cookies.

Everyone loves a good holiday cookie.  We all have our favourites.  Some are suckers for shortbread.  Or sugar cookies.  Others prefer the spicy nature of gingerbread.  I belong to that group.  I heart a good gingersnap.  My personal favourite is probably this one … a recipe I’ve been making for years (thank you Robin and Barb for sharing your family recipe with me)… and I LOVE it.

But sometimes … you need to spice things up a little.  Try something new.  Step out of your comfort zone.  And try a new cookie recipe.

With that in mind – I’ve decided to try a few new recipes out (at least they are new to me) … who knows.  I might just find something that will knock my socks off.  And perhaps (just perhaps), I will find a recipe that will dethrone my adored gingersnaps from their place of honour.  We’ll see …

I started my little recipe-test over the weekend.  I was visiting my Papa and Marielle, and my sister Anne was home too.  Anne loves my gingersnaps almost as much as I do (actually… perhaps even more) – so I knew that I had the perfect test-audience for this one.

spicy molasses cookies

With a kick of black pepper, and lots of ginger (the recipe called for ground, I also added some finely minced fresh ginger), this one was a winner.  It doesn’t hurt that the batch made … 100 cookies!  I’d say that’s a complete winner – you can fill your own personal cookie jar and gift it to friends and loved ones.  Oh yeah – and they were tasty.  I won’t lie.  They are completely different from the traditional gingersnap – but they are one solid cookie.  Definitely worthy of making again and adding to my list of favs.  Oh yeah – and they freeze.  So you can make them now and take them out when everyone starts invading your house in a couple of weeks (or you go visiting people and want to bring along a gift).

spicy molasses cookies

ingredients:

2 1/4 c. flour, sifted

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 c. butter, softened

1/3 c. white sugar

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 c. dark molasses

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp fresh, finely grated ginger

1/3 c. raw sugar

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cloves, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (I used a hand-held for this one), beat together your butter and sugars.  You want a really fluffy batter, so beat for a few minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the egg yolk, molasses, fresh ginger, and vanilla until combined.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Cover the bowl and chill until easy to handle (about an hour, but overnight is fine too).

When you’re ready to start baking – preheat your oven to 375 F.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  You should be good with two cookie sheets – although, if you have more, use them – you get 100 cookies, and they do spread while baking.

Shape your dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the raw sugar to coat.

Place them about 2-inches apart (remember, they will spread).  Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute, then allow to cool completely to a wire rack.

And then try to eat just one.  I bet you can’t stop.  We couldn’t :0)

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the sweet smell of gingerbread… continues!





Oh ginger… what a wonderful spice! I love it in my cooking – pickled, minced, sliced, diced… anyway you prepare it, I heart ginger. Which is why I’m very drawn to ginger sweets (actually, candied ginger is one of my favourite candies… seriously. almost addictive)… so I decided to keep baking with it this past week. On the menu, gingerbread people. My ginger people weren’t decorated in my kitchen, since I gave them to my friend Tonya, so that she and her daughter could decorate them this weekend.

With the remaining dough I decided to use a circle cookie cutter and make little round disks that I then sprinkled with sugar prior to baking.

This recipe is thanks to Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks – I used some fresh ginger as well as the dried ground ginger, which I felt gave the cookies a real punch. A good, simple, dependable recipe that holds well to the rolling pin and cookie cutters. Highly recommended. :0)

Gingerbread Cookies
ingredients:
4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp ground ginger
knob of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
2/3 cup molasses
large grain sugar for decoration

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Incorporate the brown sugar and beat until creamy. Blend in the eggs one at a time and then the molasses. Add the flour mixture, add half the flour, incorporate and then add the rest of the flour… keep your mixer on low speed. Once that’s done, divide the dough in half and wrap both halves in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour – I allowed mine to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 F and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

If you’ve allowed the dough to set for quite some time in the fridge, take it out just a little before you’ll want to roll it out – so that it warms up just a bit (take it out about 5 minutes before you would start rolling it).

Lightly flour your working surface and then gently roll out the dough; I use the same technique as I do with my pastry dough, rolling in one direction and turning the dough in a clockwise motion until I end up with about 1/8-inch thick dough.

Then grab your ginger people – or any cookie cutter of your choice, and start cutting the figures out of the dough. I made a dozen people – 6 boys and 6 girls (for the decorating party) and with the remaining dough I cut out rounds and sprinkled those with the large grain sugar prior to baking them.

The key to gingerbread is not over baking the cookies; make sure that the sides are a little firm but that there is still a little give when you press down on the top of the cookie. Between 8 – 11 minutes… depending on the size of the cookie (the people 11 minutes, the rounds 9 minutes).

Decorate as you wish… I look forward to seeing what was created with my cookie base ;0)

the end is here…

Just of my cookie week! Don’t worry – you can’t get rid of me that easily ;0)

Over the course of the last 4 days I tried and tasted some recipes from some of my favourite blogs – however, I couldn’t let this week go with only making other peoples cookies. So this last one is my personal childhood favourite. My friend Robin’s mom used to make them, and when I got my hands on the recipe I tweaked it a little – adding a bit more spice, a little less butter – but have found that they are popular as ever!

This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies … these not only pack a punch, but are a nice thin cookie – perfect for dunking into tea or milk. I would say these are just about perfect!

Gingersnaps
ingredients:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
Raw sugar, to coat (I use large brown sugar, but white will work too)

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Make sure that your racks are in the middle and upper parts of the oven (too low and the cookies will burn). Line your cookie trays with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, molasses and egg until nice and fluffy. Again, this is when you want to do the majority of your beating – so that the dough doesn’t toughen up once you add the flour to it.

In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, b. soda, salt, and spices.

With your wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined.

Form the dough into small balls and roll each one in the raw sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet – these do expand as they bake.

Bake for 11 minutes. Allow them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Not only do these taste great – but they freeze well, and can be ground up to form the base for cheesecakes or to top ice cream with!