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Gingerbread Men

December 22, 2009

Epicurious, you did me wrong.  I guess it was bound to happen eventually, but I don’t know if I can forgive you. 

I guess I should have noticed in advance that there would be problems with this recipe.  First and foremost, it called for shortening.  Then, it said “cookie dough will be very soft.”  How, one might ask, do you roll out and use cookie cutters on dough that will be soft even after being refrigerated for 24 hours? 

The answer is that you don’t.  At least, not happily.  There was much groaning, exasperated sighing, and eyeing of the garbage can.  To boot, after I made the cookies and was getting ready to frost them, I remembered I’d used all my red food coloring on a red velvet cake about a year ago.  Green and blue frosting it was. (Not that I minded since blue is my favorite color, but it was yet another thing to add to the list of “Ugh!”s).

Once I finally mastered the dough (which involved kneading in extra flour and repeated flouring of parchment paper) and baked the mostly-deformed cookies (they would fall apart as I transferred them to the baking sheet), I thought they turned out kind of blah.  The shortening lent a distinctly bland flavor, and they were kind of mushy rather than crispy.  Will I use this recipe again?  No.

Here’s a picture to give you an idea of how I felt dealing with this dough:

Here are some links to more promising gingerbread cookie recipes:

Gingerbread Cookies 101

Martha’s Molasses-Gingerbread Cookies

“The Most Wonderful” Gingerbread Cookies (hyperbole much?)

If you’re interested in playing around with the recipe I used, here you go, although don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Gingerbread Cookies

(From Bon Appetit)

  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I would make this 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, room temperature (I would get rid of this completely and up the butter to a full stick)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg

Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening and butter in large bowl into light. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in molasses, then egg. Add dry ingredients. Using spoon, stir until mixture forms dough (dough will be very soft). Divide dough into thirds. Gather each third into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin. Place 1 dough disk on work surface (keep remaining 2 dough disks refrigerated). Press rolling pin into dough several times to flatten slightly for easier rolling. Roll out dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, frequently lifting and turning dough to prevent sticking. Using assorted cookie cutters dipped into flour, cut out cookies. Transfer cookies to ungreased nonstick baking sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Gather dough scraps together and reserve.

Bake until cookies turn brown on edges, about 15 minutes. Let cookies stand on sheets 1 minute. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining 2 dough disks as described above, being sure to cool cookie sheets before making each batch. Combine all reserved dough scraps and shape into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disk in plastic and freeze until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking as described above. Store cooled cookies in airtight container at room temperature until ready to decorate.

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