One of my favorite things about the holiday season has always been all the baking that takes place. Although I used to go a little crazy (and maybe still do) thinking about all the possibilities there were when it came specifically to cookies. When I was younger I would go to the bookshelf, grab a stack of my mom's cookbooks and baking books, and sit quietly pouring through each one until I found the perfect cookies to bake that year. I always wanted to try a new variety, though it seemed I'd always come back to the traditional favorites.
I'd roll up my sleeves, set out all my ingredients, and together with my mom, get started on the list. Soon the house would smell of butter, sugar, and spice. My dad would come inside to sneak a cookie or two and I remember it used to make me so mad because I wanted to save them as a surprise. The smile on his face after he took his first bite however, took that feeling away and made me feel proud that the cookies tasted so good.Christmas is this weekend and it just wouldn't feel right if I went the entire month of December without baking a single cookie. So once again, I channeled my inner little girl self, rolled up my sleeves and set out to make a Christmas favorite in our household... gingerbread.
There has always been something about the warm spices and simple unassuming look of gingerbread. I've changed around my favorite childhood recipe to fit in better with how I bake now, but nothing has been lost, if anything I think they taste even better.
I'd love to hear what all of you have been baking this month or what some of your family favorites are?
I wish you all a merry and bright holiday weekend!
Gingerbread Cookies / makes about 3 dozen 4-inch cookies
When it comes to decorating these cookies, I tend to lean on the very minimal side. Opting for a little sprinkling of turbinado sugar before baking rather than piping icing. Choose whichever you prefer, just don't skip this step because it really does add a little something extra to these gingerbread cookies.
4 cups spelt flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup Muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cups blackstrap molasses
turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper, set aside.
Using a stand mixer or hand blender, cream the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time, then the molasses. Mix until the batter is an even dark brown color.
Pour in the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until combined. Divide the dough into two pieces, wrap each disc in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Once your dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line 2 baking sheets.
Lightly flour a countertop and roll the dough out to 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness. Make sure and not roll the dough too thin (use a ruler if you need to). Cut out desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, place in the oven and bake for 7-9 minutes. You don't want to under or overcook these cookies, so really make sure and watch them for your oven setting.