Monday, December 17, 2012

gingerbread girls & boys

I love gingerbread! 

Whether it's a moist gingerbread loaf, tender cookies, or gingerbread holiday bars . . . there's just nothing that says "It's the holidays!" like gingerbread! 

I bake Gingerbread Girl & Boy cookies for my niece and nephews every year. I make extras for my little ones and friends too.  It's a simple, yet special, tradition that not only fills my house with the warm smell gingerbread, but these cute cookies bring smiles too! 

I've researched and sampled gingerbread cookie recipes over the years, and THIS ONE is my absolute favorite! It yields a very flavorful cookie that is moist and tender. They are delicious!  For ease and good flavor, I decorate them with Almond Bark. I think white and vanilla chocolate are a wonderful compliment to gingerbread cookies!

So grab your holiday sprinkles and rolling pin . . . and bake a few Gingerbread Girls & Boys this holiday season! 

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
6 small blocks of Almond Bark, melted (found in the baking section of your local market)

Here's how . . .
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Divide dough into 3 portions, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a generously floured piece of parchment, roll dough to a scant 1/4 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Slide dough and parchment onto baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.
Cut out desired shapes. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes. 
If you desire a flatter Gingerbread Cookie, then remove sheets from oven, and tap them firmly on counter to flatten the cookies. Return to oven, rotating sheets, and bake until crisp but not darkened, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Follow melting directions on the Almond Bark package, and spoon into a Wilton squeeze bottle, or spoon melted white candy into a pastry bag with a very small plain round tip (such as Ateco #0 or #1). Pipe designs on cookies. Let cookies stand at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours (preferably overnight). Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

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