I'm not a huge fan of gingerbread cookies or ginger snaps or the like. They just aren't my favorite kind of cookies. And if I make them, I'd have to eat them all, because Rykert won't be anywhere near them due to their cinnamon content and his hatred for all things cinnamon flavored (or scented). (As an aside, he drove me on errands not too long ago, but refused to go anywhere near the craft stores due to the overwhelming aroma of cinnamon scented pine cones.) I was looking through my grandma's recipe box, and I found a recipe called simply "Ginger Cookies." In the upper corner of the recipe card it also said "English." I'm not sure if that's an origin or a name of the original recipe provider.
It's an interesting recipe, which is the other reason why I decided to make them. Of course, the recipe card only had a list of ingredients. No mixing instructions; no oven temperature; no baking time. So I made a few adaptions and guesses here and there.
1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup boiling water
1 t vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
3 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 T milk (plus more to bring to correct consistency)
1 t vanilla
In a saucepan, bring the shortening, sugar, molasses, and boiling water to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (If when you allow to cool, the shortening re-solidifies into a gross film, do not panic. Just give it a whisk before moving on.) Once cooled, pour into the bowl of an electric mixer and add the egg and vanilla. Beat well. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients. Slowly incorporate into the wet mixture. Do not over beat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop by teaspoonfuls on to parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will look underbaked in the center when removed from the oven, but will harden as they cool.
Once cooled, beat the frosting ingredients together. Add more powdered sugar or milk to create the desired spreading consistency. Ice each cookie.
I really don't like using shortening when I bake (or cook). I prefer real butter. And even though I know Granny enjoyed butter on sandwiches and bread, her recipes are certainly a sign of the times in that they almost all call for shortening, oleo, or lard. In fact, I told my sister that I had found this recipe and was going to try it, and her first question was, "How much lard does it call for?"
The recipe card says that it makes 6 dozen cookies. But I clearly made mine much larger as I only got about 3 dozen using the only cookie scoop I had. Also, this make a sticky dough, so it would not be appropriate for rolling out to make cut-outs. So that everyone was clear on the type of cookie, I found the pre-made sugar gingerbread boy decorations at Michaels.
Moving on... do you remember when Hersey's Kisses came in one single flavor? And frankly, there was nothing wrong with that one milk chocolate creation. You can now get them in milk chocolate, milk chocolate with almond, dark chocolate, milk chocolate with caramel center, Hugs, etc. And for each holiday, they also have variations including Candy Cane flavored for Christmas. While I don't want to eat the candy cane flavored versions by the handful, they do look quite nice on top of a chocolate cookie.
I used the recipe that can be found here. I didn't have any dark chocolate chips so I just used semi-sweet, but I don't think it had a huge impact on the final product. I also didn't add the peppermint extract to the dough. Here's another variation that looks like it might be good if you are interested.
I don't normally make sugar cookies. They always seem to me to be a substantial undertaking with the rolling, cutting, and frosting. The main event is the decorating, and by the time I get to that point, I'm too exhausted to really give it a full effort. Also, I'm terrible at frosting and can't pipe frosting to save my life. But I saw an idea all over the interwebs, and knew that I had to make at least a few melted snowmen...
The first version that I saw on the web (here) was so adorable, but it used fondant. Which for a novice like myself is difficult to work with. But then on Ohdeedoh I saw this version. I generally followed the instructions found here. My frosting piping skills again failed me when I tried to give each a scarf, so I improvised with a bow tie.
I did use store bought frosting, because whenever I make frosting it never is a true white-white. The butter or vanilla always give it an off-white hue. I thinned the frosting so that it would go on sloppy and look melty, and then added the melted marshmallow head and decorations. I only made about a dozen of these, and honestly they probably won't get eaten because I'm so smitten with them. I suppose some people would think that a melting snowman is kind of sad and depressing. But they clearly don't live in snow and understand the joy that comes with any kind of melting. And well,their pathetic expressions are what make them so cute.
I'm heading to my parent's and will continue my baking there. It's not Christmas without toffee. And I may use their movie theatre style popcorn popper to make a huge batch of caramel corn.