Christmas is sprinting around the corner and with little time to spare I have begun my baking marathon. Taking the time to create something homemade will show your friends and family that you love and appreciate them during this holiday season. To me this sentiment is exemplified in the tradition of baking cookies. This year I want to share with you a traditional gingerbread, that is often overlooked as more decorative than edible. This cookie is often baked to create beautiful gingerbread houses that the whole family can have fun decorating together. However, after weeks of sitting out on the table I find that its appeal as a dessert diminishes. This year, try something new (or rather old) and make good, old-fashioned gingerbread men!
The truth is until this year I was unaware of how much I actually enjoy gingerbread as a cookie. In the past I have stuck to the tried and true shortbread, chocolate crinkles, snicker doodles, and sugar cookies (any excuse to eat more frosting). This year I wanted something unique but also traditional, hello gingerbread men! Williams Sonoma has a fantastic collection of gingerbread cookie cutters that come in a variety of Christmas themed shapes: snowflakes, nutcrackers and Santas. These cookie cutters are the best of both worlds, offering you the chance to create a very traditional recipe with beautiful non-traditional gingerbread shapes. These oversized stainless steel cookie cutters leave intricate cutouts and imprinted details into the rolled dough, which you can choose to embellish with icing or let stand as they are based on your own preferences.
The gingerbread recipe I like the most comes from King Arthur Flour; their recipe provides crisp cookies that snap on the outside when you bite into them while maintaining a softer center. The blend of molasses and brown sugar creates a sweet and spiced cookie that satisfies the sweet tooth in all of us. A few tips I learned while making my own batch this year: I recommend rolling out the dough thin enough to create a crunch but thick enough to pick up the detail on the cookie cutters. Parchment paper is your friend; roll out the dough directly on to parchment paper, use the cookie cutters, discard the scrap dough then transfer the parchment paper directly to the cookie sheet for easy clean up! For oversized cookie cutters, bake for around 10-12 minutes, but keep a close eye, it is all too easy to go from a perfect golden brown to burnt!
If you are like me and looking to make a change this year in your holiday baking, instead of looking for a new recipe, try something more traditional like these gingerbread cookies. They are an old classic with a new twist sure to delight your loved ones. These cookies are easy to make and fun to decorate. Your family and friends will appreciate the effort you make to bake them something they will enjoy. Happy Baking and Merry Christmas!