Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gingerbread Cookies

I love gingerbread cookies but I'm very particular about them. Typically gingerbread cookies are crisp or hard. I like them moist. I found this recipe from Cook's Illustrated and new I had to try it. Their recipes usually turn out wonderfully so I knew it would be good, but it turned out great!

Start by putting your dry ingredients into a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for about 10 seconds until combined.

Add the butter pieces on top and pulse for another 10-15 seconds until the mixture is very fine...

It should look like sand with no big chunks.

With the machine running, pour in the wet ingredients.

The mixture should start to form a ball of dough. It will be a bit wet and shaggy.

Roll the dough a few times and it will become more cohesive. You don't need to add flour as the dough will not stick too much. Plus adding flour will give your cookies a white powdery sheen that you don't want.

Cut the dough in half and work one portion at a time. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll until 1/4-inch thick. Leave dough between parchment and freeze until firm for 15-20 minutes. The chilled dough will help your cookies from tearing or loosing shape. Be sure to have a handsome assistant to help!

Pull the top parchment off, gently lay back in place, flip the dough over and peel off the second parchment layer. Cut out your cookies.
Place cut cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat.

Bake two sheets at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets front to back and switching positions from top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost when completely cool.

Gingerbread Cookies

3 c. flour
3/4 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 c. unsulphured molasses
2 T. milk

Directions:In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles a very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.

Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll 1/4-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Or refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.)

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4-inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to bottom halfway through baking time. Do not over-bake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with the remaining dough until all dough is used.

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