Christmas cookies are about the only sure thing you can count on in December.
Weather is as unpredictable as the customer service at the mall and let’s not even get into the Grinch who stole the office holiday vibe and stuffed it down a lonely mail chute.
Time is scarce. Bakers like me secretly love complex recipes where one element layers on another. At this time of year? Not so much.
These cut-out Santa mitts will slap a smile on Scrooge. Nor will they cause any ghostly visitations in the night, thanks to the holiday staple: ginger. After testing countless recipes through the years, I have concluded they are my favourite gingerbread cookie. Not too sweet, but a perfect blend of spices and cakey middle.
A Christmas standard in this house needs to have some fun attached. How else to describe stirring goopy stuff that rises up like bubbling lava on the stove? Total kick for kids.
Better yet, no need to chill the dough. It is all made in one pot, the dough is easy for rolling, and the snap is just right. Stored in airtight containers, the cookies will also last for days and days and save you when the unexpected guests tumble through your doorway.
What are you waiting for? Prep the elves.
What you need for 4 dozen Santa mitts or snowflakes, reindeers, angels, elves, snowmen, snow women, Christmas trees, candy canes…
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper of Silpat
- cookie cutters of any shape
- 2/3 cups molasses
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- I large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
What you do:
1 .Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Put molasses, brown sugar and spices in 4 quart pot and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Fun alert: the mixture will foam up and look like caramel bubble gum.
4. Add butter pieces, bit by bit, letting them melt before adding next. Stir until combined. Add egg.
5. Add flour and salt. It will become harder to mix and not look like much yet but that’s ok.
6. Lightly flour a bread board or other surface and empty the dough out and begin to knead until it is soft. To prevent sticky dough, add in as much as 1/4 cup flour as you knead. It only will take about a minute to come together into a beautiful colour and consistency and you are ready to roll!
7. Divide the dough in half and wrap one half and keep it aside, in fridge if your kitchen is warm.
8. Roll out the dough on another floured surface into a big round and begin to cut out shapes. Don’t roll too thin- I aim for about ¼ inch but no, I don’t use rulers- it’s just an eyeball estimate.
9. Arrange on baking sheets at least 1 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly dark*.
10. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. Make more cookies with your other half of dough but don’t reroll your scraps too often as the dough gets ragged. Ice with tinted royal icings or dust with icing sugar.
These cookies are fine on their own but stupendous with icing.
* Experiment with baking times and your own preference for crispy or soft. They do harden up when cool.
They’re not too sweet but stuffed with joy…
kind of like this new holiday ad which gets it just about right.
Put up your hand if any part of this ad rings true in your family gatherings. They might as well have come in and secretly taped my crew.
FOR MORE RECIPES: SEE: Scones-R-US
FOR MORE ON FAMILY BAKING: Cue the Carols