Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gingerbread cookies

When I was a kid, my mom and I would bake Christmas cookies.  She had a manila folder full of recipes she'd clipped out of magazines and newspapers.  She probably still has it somewhere.  Someday I'm going to ask her to track it down and let me make copies, although the recipes in The Joy of Cooking are very similar.
Anyway, we'd usually make Mexican Wedding Cakes (little butter walnut cookies), spritz cookies, and gingerbread cookies.  I always liked the Mexican Wedding Cakes the best.  The spritz cookies were not so tasty but were fun since we used a cookie press.  If you haven't used a cookie press, it's like a caulk gun but with different shaped tips to get different cookie shapes.  The spritz cookies were kind of bland. I'm sure they'd be better with real butter instead of the cheapest margarine available.  The gingerbread was my mom's favorite.  We used a recipe for a gingerbread house, but just made cookies from it and then decorated them with a lot of frosting. The cookies were sort of chewy and not too sweet, although the frosting made up for it.
After a few years of giving out Christmas cookies, I've learned that there are always a few people who like the gingerbread-type cookies the best.
By request, here's a recipe that is pretty similar from The Joy of Cooking. I modified it slightly to try to make it more like what I remember. The texture and flavor comes out pretty similar to what I remember.  Contrary to my usual recipe geek format, I've simplified the recipe somewhat to more accurately reflect how we used to make it

Gingerbread Cookies a la mom
Mix together
6 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp cloves, if desired
1 tsp salt

Cream together
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Add to butter/sugar mix
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon water

Add flour mix to the wet mix in several portions, and mix well.  Let the dough sit in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, then roll out to 1/4" thick and cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Bake at 350F until done.  Let cookies cool, then frost with powdered sugar icing and decorate with colored sugar or other decorations

powdered sugar icing
1 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lemon
enough powdered sugar to make a slightly runny icing

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