Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas - Gingerbread Cookie Recipes

Today's recipes are all for gingerbread men because I love each of these recipes for there own unique-ness.

We make all three here at Cheesecake Farms. You just can never have too many gingerbread men !

These recipes use the same basic technique that was used for yesterday's butter cut outs.

Easy, Bread Flour Gingerbread Men
This recipe uses high gluten bread flour instead of the usual all purpose flour which means the cookies are sturdier and will never loose an arm or a leg when you take them off the pan!

Makes 20 (5 X 3 X 1/4 inch) cookies

1 stick butter (softened - margarine not recommended)
3/4 cup sugar
3-3/4 cups white bread flour (not all purpose)
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk, kiefer or thin, plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon regular, plain salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground, dried ginger
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Cream butter and sugar together. Stir in molasses and buttermilk (or kiefer or yogurt). Mix all dry ingredients together then stir into molasses mixture. Can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 3 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-8 minutes in preheated oven or until bottoms are nicely browned.

Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack.
(When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).

Lebkuchen
An old Germany honey cookie that makes wonderful gingerbread men - even though the recipe doesn't call for any ginger.

Makes about 15 (5 X 3 X 1/4 inch) cookies

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vegetable shortening or natural shortening
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 -3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular, plain salt)
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat in egg and lemon rind. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together then stir into butter mixture. Can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-8 minutes in preheated oven or until cookies are firm to the touch.

Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack. (When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).


Karla's Spicy Gingerbread Men
The black pepper in this recipe may seem odd but it makes the cookies wonderfully spicy. Roll these cookies thinner than the other two recipes.

Makes about 3 dozen (5 X 3 X 1/8 inch) cookies

4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon regular grind black pepper
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons water
1 large or extra large egg (1/4 cup)
Decorations: 1 recipe white chocolate icing (recipe follows)

Stir all dry ingredients together. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add molasses, water and egg. Stir in dry ingredient mixture.

Dough can be rolled out right away or refrigerate dough up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, position oven rack so cookies will bake in center. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking parchment.

Divide dough into 4 parts. Roll out 1 part of dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 7-10 minutes in preheated oven or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. Cool 1 minute on pan then slide parchment sheet (with cookies still on it) onto cooling rack. (When using a greased pan, remove cookies after 1 minute with a spatula.)

When cookies are completely cooled (at least 1 hour - longer is OK) decorate with white chocolate icing (recipe below).


White Chocolate Icing
Makes enough for a simple decoration of eyes, mouth and buttons. Make 1 batch of icing at a time - making additional batches as you need them. You can't rehear white chocolate repeatedly.

1 cup white chocolate confectionary coating discs or baking chips (approximately)
1 tablespoon white or natural vegetable shortening (butter, margarine or oil not recommended)
Pastry bag with a small writing tip


Put the white chocolate into a heat safe container (I like to use a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup). Put the shortening on top. Microwave till shortening has melted but chocolate is almost melted - about 1 minute.

Remove from microwave and stir till completely smooth. Pour into prepared pastry bag. Pipe each gingerbread man with 2 round eyes, 1 round mouth and 3 round buttons on chest. Refrigerate decorated cookies about 5 minutes to set chocolate.

No pastry bag?
Put melted and smooth stirred white chocolate into a new plastic picnic squirt bottle for ketchup or mustard. (White chocolate will pick up flavors from a previously used bottle even though the bottle is clean.)

The tiny hole in the nozzel is just the right size for decorating. If chocolate gets hard between decorating batches, put chocolate filled container into very warm water till chocolate melts again. (Like warming a baby bottle.) Do not microwave these bottles. They'll melt.

More recipes tommorrow!

Today's baking tip:
Make cookie baking effortless by preparing the dough one day and baking the next. Works for most recipes!

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Check back tomorrow as we count the days till Christmas with scrumptious recipes, festive holiday tips and gifts ideas from the kitchen.

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