Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

This recipe makes BEAUTIFUL cookies, especially when understated with a simple white frosting.  These cookies are elegant looking and tasting- they aren't gaudy and sweet but more subtle and deep flavored. They are on the drier side and so, are best suited to eat with a nice hot cup of cocoa, coffee or tea.

You'll need:

5 T unsalted butter, softened 
1/3 c.solid vegetable shortening 
1/2 c. (packed) dark brown sugar 
1 egg
1/2 c. molasses 
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 T ground ginger 
2 t. ground cinnamon 
1 t. ground cloves 
1 T baking soda 
1/2 t. baking powder 
1 t. salt

What you do:

1) Cream brown sugar, shortening and butter.  Add egg, mix well. Add chocolate, mix well.

2) Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl if you want.  Or in the "wet" ingredients if you are lazy.  (I won't tell.)  I usually DO use a separate bowl for this sort of thing since I want the spices to be uniform throughout.  You can mix the dry ingredients into the wet in two different steps to keep flour from flying.
3)  Form dough into a ball, over with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

4) When thoroughly chilled, roll out dough to baout 1/4 inch- cut with cookie cutters and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until the tops look dryish.  

5) Let cookies cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.  

6) Decorate as you see fit.  I used my buttercream frosting made a bit stiffer with more confectionary sugar (because I don't care much for the flavor of royal icing). 

Farmhouse Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These cookies are delicious.  
They are sweet, but not too sweet; soft, but still crispy on the outside.   Best of all, this recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies, give or take (depending upon the size of your cookie cutters), which means there will be plenty to snitch and plenty to serve.  

The addition of sour cream lends a delicious depth of flavor- but also makes for a bit of a moister dough so you may need to add a bit more flour to the dough if it becomes to sticky.  But not too much!  Too much flour, too dry a dough is never a good thing when it comes to cut-out cookies.

You'll need:

1 cup shortening
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 t. vanilla
4 1/2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda

What you do:

* Mix first five ingredients until thoroughly creamed.

* Add rest of dry ingredients.  (You could mix them together in a separate bowl and then add them...but I never do.  Why dirty another dish?  Am I right, or am I right?)

* Chill for about an hour.

* Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick, using a sprinkling of flour on the table and rolling pin and cut with your favorite cutters.  OR roll in a log shape, refrigerate for 2 hours and then slice.

* Bake cookies on greased cookie sheets in a 350 degree oven until edges are just the slightest bit golden brown.  Cool for a minute or two on sheets before moving to cooling racks.

* Slather, smear, and bejewel the cookies with goodness.  I use buttercream frosting, but you can do as you like. 

Buttercream Frosting

Until I get a better photo to post, this downright messy picture of buttercream frosting IN ACTION will have to do.  But, the fact is....this is buttercream frosting in all its' glory.  On the fingers and lips of children.  Making the world a colorful place.  A happy place.  A delicious place.

* Beat 1/3 c. butter until fluffy.

* Add 2 c. powdered sugar- but until fluffy.

* Slowly add 1/4 c. milk and 1 1/2 t. vanilla.

* Beat an additional 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar.

(At this point add more milk or sugar to reach desired consistency. if necessary.)

* Color as you see fit.

PS.  To make enough icing for my Farmhouse Cut-Out Cookies, I double this recipe.

PPS.  If you add a bit more confectionary sugar to the icing for stiffness, it makes a lovely substitute for royal icing.  One that actually has flavor!  (In my opinion.)

PPPS.  If the icing is to be piped, I sift the powdered sugar when adding it to the bowl.