The Art of Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Trees, http://variationsoncooking.com

Gingerbread, some people love it others hate it and some just thinks its for decoration and is not for consumption. I personally love Gingerbread when it is done right, all to often its that teeth breaking, cardboard, completely devoid of favor type.

My next Blog news letter is all about the many variations on this classic holiday cookie but i wanted to give you all a preview with my take on the basic classic cookie. I also like to change up how the cookie is presented. A few years ago i came up with the trees shown above. I have been collecting star shaped cookie cutters, over the years, well actually all types of cookie cutters, and when i was prepping to start my holiday baking i noticed that in the box that i stored them the stars had stacked them selves into the shape of a tree, and the idea was born. I did have to go out a buy a few more, darn, to actually make the graduating cookies flow.

Have fun and the Holiday Cookie New Letter, Part two will be sent out in the beginning of November — Enjoy Cooking

Gingerbread Cookies with a Twist

Ingredients

3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of raw local honey

3/4 cup raw dark brown sugar

1/2 cup of almonds

1/2 cup candied fruit

1 large egg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Icing

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of water

1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Directions

Place almonds into the food processor and grind them until very fine. Remove the almonds and next mince up the candied fruit, you want them in very small pieces but not pureed.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients including the almonds that were finely ground. Next stir in the minced candied fruit.

In the stand mixer place the balance of the ingredients and mix until well combined. I usually let the mix run for about 2 minutes or so. Now reduce the speed and slowly add the dry ingredients, there will be a point that the dough will start to clump, that is OK. Once all combined, dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball and wrap it up. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

On a floured work surface divided the ball into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time roll it out to about 1/4 thick. Using the cookie cutter of your choice, I usually a tree shape for these, or what I did last years was to cut descending Star shapes and assemble to create a tree. Cut out the cookies and place them about 2 inches apart on a parchment line cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining quarters and of course save the scraps from each roll out and combine and roll out to cut additional cookies.

Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes. You want the cookies to be a light golden brown, also the cookies will puff out a bit when baking. Remove when done and like the trick I used before, is to slide the parchment with the cookies on them right on to the cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling mix together the icing. This a traditional icing but you do not want it too thick or too runny. If it does become to thick add a bit of water or if it becomes too runny add more sugar. Now I usually brush on the icing as if the tree has snow piled on the branches and then dust them with sugar glitter to give them a bit of a sparkle of snow. With the “Star Trees” i piped the icing onto the cookies, place a big dap in the center to hold the cookies together.

Enjoy Cooking

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