Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gingerbread cookies

Warning:  This post has nothing to do with horses, but I consider it part of "The Journey":) 

I set myself a goal of baking four different kinds of cookies this month (theoretically one kind each week, but I am a procrastinator...).  I remember when I was growing up that a friend's mom really outdid herself every December with tons of amazing cookies.  And then when I was in college, my supervisor at the college library invited me to her house for a full day of crazy Christmas baking.  I've always wanted to do something like that since then, but finding the time and motivation has been a challenge, for about 20 years.  This year, though, felt like the year to at least make an attempt.

I started the month out with snickerdoodles, which I've never made before, although I love them.  They ended up tasting OK, but something wasn't quite right.  They spread out a lot in the oven and the taste was...missing something.  So I definitely need to shop around for a different recipe to try next year.

Snickerdoodle fail
My next attempt was gingerbread cookies.  I think it was probably the first time I have ever made them (except maybe with my parents' help when I was growing up?).  I had to go looking for a recipe because the one in my usual go-to cookbook (The Joy of Cooking) was reduced fat.  I mean, seriously?  Anyway, Martha Stewart came through for me and filled the void with this recipe:
(Note that I only baked my cookies for 10 minutes because they were much smaller than the 6" gingerbread people called for by the recipe.)

I really liked the way the cookies tasted (the ground pepper surprised me as an ingredient, but somehow worked), but I did not use the Royal Icing, which, according to my Joy of Cooking cookbook is better for when you care more about how something looks than how it tastes.  Instead I used a super basic recipe of 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons of water.  And I also used the ziplock bag method of icing application, which involves spooning the icing into the bag, sealing it, and cutting a tiny notch out of the bottom corner of the bag so the icing will come out in a neat and controlled manner.  (Note that it is super important that you are careful when you put the icing into the bag, because if you aren't, it's possible that you won't be able to seal the bag, and that you'll decide it's not that big of a deal if you don't seal the bag, and then there will be a massive ooze of icing all over everything instead of in neat ribbons or buttons on your cookies, which is the opposite of neat and controlled.)

I forgot to get a picture of my best cookies before I sent them off to a party that Gemma was going to, but I did get a picture of the ones that mostly turned out OK (with respect to the icing, I mean):

Anyway, if you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe, please feel free to share in the comments.  I'd love to have some more great recipes to try!:)


  1. I'm still laughing over your frosting incident. The cookies came out so pretty though.

    Ooooh I have a recipe! I actually have several. :D My mom started the Christmas baking tradition when I was...5? I loved pitching in and helping so I could eat cookie dough. I continued the tradition with her as an adult and later when I moved in with Carlos...but then I kept wondering why I'd gain 5-10 lbs every Christmas. And it was because of the baking. Hahaha... so we only save cookie baking for very very special Christmases. But anyway. This is one of the family favorites. We jokingly call them the "Diet Cookies"...because there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DIET about them and they are amazing! They have all the major cookie food groups: chocolate, caramel, nuts, and oatmeal.

    Caramel Oatmeal Chewies

    You'll need:
    1 & 1/4 cups Quaker Oats
    1 & 1/2 cup All purpose flour
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt (optional)
    3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) margarine, melted
    1 cup chopped nuts (we used walnuts or pecans)
    One 10 oz package (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
    One 14 oz bag vanilla caramels
    1/4 cup water

    Heat oven to 340 degrees. Grease a 13x19" baking pan. Combine first 5 ingredients. Add margarine, mix until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of crumble for topping; press remaining mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool. Top with chocolate pieces & nuts.

    In medium sauce pan, melt caramels with water over *low* heat, stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Drizzle over chocolate pieces to within 1/4" of pan edges; sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Continue baking 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Allow to cool. Chill until chocolate is set. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered in a cool, dry place.

    1. OMG! These cookies look amazing, Saiph! I'm definitely adding them to the list! Thanks for sharing:) (And I'm relieved that they don't involve any icing...)