Every Christmas it has been our family tradition to make gingerbread cookies. I remember when my kids were young it was always quite a production! We would buy all the ingredients beforehand including colored sugar, sprinkles and the smallest candies we could find to decorate them. I recall there was powdered sugar and dough everywhere! My son always made extra dough to create his very own gingerbread themed house. Each year it was a different theme, from a farmhouse complete with farm animals, to the grinch’s green castle. Several years in a row, our family dog ate half the house in the middle of the night..until finally one year we got smart and put it up high!
After our cookies were baked we would each pick some cookies to decorate, which we would then place on a Christmas platter for us all to enjoy over the holidays. There was always a bit of a competition as to whose were the best. I would try to decorate my cookies with “all natural goodies” like nuts, seeds & dried fruit. (much to the chagrin of my children) In their view the more jelly beans, M&M’s and skittles they could pile on their cookies, the better! (I do think they appreciate my efforts more now that they are grown). Anyway it brings back so many happy memories making these cookies each year as that wonderful spicy aroma fills the kitchen!
Naturally when I was asked to bring a few dozen cookies to a @thefeedfeed & @bobsredmill cookie exchange event in Brooklyn this year, I decided to go out all the way with my nut and dried fruit decorations!
Here is my recipe:
HEALTHY HOLIDAY GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Makes 2 dozen cookies
(preheat oven to 350 degrees)
- 2/3 cup of butter (or 10 TB)
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup of unsulphured molasses
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 TB. of ginger
- 1 TB. of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of cloves or allspice
You will need an assortment of Christmas cookie cutters. (I decided to focus on snowflakes for this particular project).
* First set your butter out to get to room temperature. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. (a Kitchen Aid works great for this!) Next beat in the brown sugar and molasses until smooth. Then finally add the egg and vanilla and beat until nice and creamy.
* In another bowl mix the dry ingredients together well; the flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
* Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients stirring in a cup or two at a time mixing in well each time. It gets a bit hard to stir by the last bit of dry ingredients, but you want a stiff dough to roll out. Now divide the dough into two balls. Put each ball on a small sheet of saran wrap, and then put another square on top. Using a rolling pin roll each ball into a disc. Put the discs into the refrigerator for a few hours to chill.
* While the dough is chilling, you can start getting your nuts, seeds and dry fruits together to use for decorations after the cookies are baked. Place them in small bowls to organize them. I used pistachios, pine nuts, marcona almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, yogurt covered raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, pomegranate arils & some sparkling sugar and sugar pearls.
When the dough is chilled and ready, take one out at a time. Lightly flour a clean surface or cutting board and your rolling pin, then start rolling out the dough to about 1/4″ thick. After pressing in the cookie cutter, peel away the rest of the dough and use a spatula to place the cookies on a nonstick cookie sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.
Place the pan in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes and then carefully transfer to paper towels. You can gather the remainder of the dough and press it into a ball. Add a little more flour to the surface and rolling pin and roll it out again until you don’t have enough left to make any more cookies!
Once the cookies cool it is time to do the fun part of decorating them! Make up a dish of confectioner sugar icing to use like glue to stick on the nuts, seeds & fruits.
- For the Confectioner’s sugar icing:
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 – 2 TB. of milk
- For Royal Icing:
- 1 pkg. of powdered sugar
- 3 TB. of meringue powder
- 6 – 8 TB. of water
- Now have fun and be creative!
The nuts and dried fruits enhance the gingery cookie taste rather than masking it as too much icing and candy can do. Well, I hope you enjoy these crispy, spicy gingerbread cookies and that they become a family holiday tradition for you too!
Enjoy & Happy Holidays!