Do you have the Christmas Spirit yet? I definitely caught it this past week. We did so many Christmas/Advent things it was crazy!
I went caroling at an old folks home with some friends and it was amazing. We went right when the residents were all getting into bed so it was soothing and magical to be walking through the halls as they prepared to go to sleep - almost seemed as if we were singing lullabies to them. I was fortunate to be surrounded by really good singers and the acoustics were incredible in the hallways. We stopped in a few rooms and wished them Merry Christmas and took song requests - glad to see Silent Night is still the most popular carol and not Jingle bells. They all smiled so sweetly as we sang to them, and many of them shed a few tears. It was truly beautiful! I love old people!!!
Ginger is a new flavor to me. Most of my life I tried avoiding it - really though it was super nasty. Then one day my brother in law gave me a ginger people ginger chew candy...I almost spit it out in disgust but kept chewing hoping it would get better. It didn't. So I ate another one hoping this ginger flavor would grow on me - and guess what? It worked! I just kept eating ginger chews, then added it to my meals, drank ginger tea when I was sick, and now we have a very loving and supportive relationship.
We had a cookie decorating party this weekend and I decided to make some gingerbread men since those were my most favorite cookies to decorate when I worked at the bakery - they were just so cute and so darn simple! I have tried many gingerbread cookie recipes but hadn't found the one yet - until now! I should have know better and checked with Martha Stewart in the first place, but I didn't...shame on me...I know she is probably crazy, and she committed a crime - but hey - she did her time, and she really is insanely talented if you ask me. Anywho - this recipe is a winner because it is spicy! I feel like many of the gingerbread cookies I have tried are just weak in flavor - it is as if they are trying not to go overboard so instead they aim way under and don't add enough ginger or molasses. These guys are different - they are dark, they are crisp, they are perfectly Christmasy in the way they should be.
I think my Scandinavian ancestors would be proud knowing that I now love gingerbread...I am really tempted to braid my hair now and wear clogs...I realize this is combining many cultures that I may or may not be a descendant of but it doesn't matter - it is Christmas - anything goes!
Ready to decorate cookies!
Do you like how our table is wrapped with wrapping paper - a great way to add color to your Christmas party - this was my Mom's idea and we do it for lots of our parties!
Look I made a little demo video for rolling out gingerbread cookies!
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
Barely adapted from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 1/2 pound) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, such as snowflakes* or gingerbread men. Spread two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.