I hope everyone had a very merry christmas, I know I did. There was lots of cooking going on and seeing friends and family and drinking wine and playing in the snow. AND I got lots of food related presents (I just love kitchen gadgets....) which will be showing up here very soon as I can't wait to use them all! Anyways, back to the cooking, I have a fondness for gingerbread cookies. I am not sure where this fondness came from, my mom never made them at christmas, it has always been sugar cookies (which are amazing, by the way). Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a good gingerbread recipe, one that doesn't resemble spicy cardboard. Fortunately, the second one I tried was good, at least in my opinion. The recipe can be found here, it is another one from the food network website. It is crucial to chill the dough for several hours, and even then you need to be sure to flour your surfaces pretty well to be able to roll it out properly. But don't let that put you off, once you get the hang of it, it isn't that tricky. Also, I would love to master royal icing, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. Instead I like to put a little glaze on these, a mix of powdered sugar, milk and a sprinkle of all the spices that are in the cookies themselves.
Sift together the flour and spices. Set it aside while you get on with blending the rest of the ingredients.
Mix together basically everything else, the butter, shortening, sugar, eggs and molasses.
Slowly add the flour mixture to make a fairly stiff dough.
Divide it in 2 and wrap each half up in plastic wrap. Stick them in the fridge for 3 hours or up to 2 days. I have always left it at least overnight, so I cannot vouch for what happens after 3 hours, but after a day the dough gets firmer and changes color slightly as the flavors develop.
2 days later, during the 'blizzard of 2009' while the weather outside is frightful.....
.... gingerbread is so delightful. Roll out the dough and cut out the cookies, popping the dough back into the fridge between batches so it doesn't warm up too much. Bake them on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, I bake them for 11 minutes and they turn out perfectly.
On a slightly related note, I got these woodland creatures cookie cutters from Ikea, and I love them, but I cannot figure out why there is a whale in with a moose, fox, hedgehog, squirrel, and bear. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.
Once the cookies are done and cooled, you can frost them as you wish. I like making a kind of thick glaze with powdered sugar and milk, with a bit of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg thrown in that I smear of the cookies with the back of a spoon. Let the glaze dry before storing the cookies, or else they will all stick together in a massive glob of sugar and cookies, which may be tasty but probably not very pretty.