#CTLCookieExchange - Gingerbread People


I selected this week's #CTLCookieExchange, gingerbread people, because at the end of last week, I was off to a cookie exchange with some of my favourite people for our first annual cookie exchange. My original intention was to create gingerbread people that can hang off your mug and I thought I could just modify a regular gingerbread cutter for that. You can tell I'm not an engineer. After a few batches of trying to hook one arm of the dough, I realized (thanks Google) that there are cookie cutters for just the purpose. Oh well, there's always next year. But all was not lost! I continued on and made some of the cutest gingerbread people that sprinkles and icing could make.
On my Friday off last week (which have I mentioned that taking every Friday off in December is the greatest idea in the world?) I baked, and baked, and then iced and sprinkled through two batches of the below recipe. I wanted to have enough to give my good friends at our cookie exchange, and keep some for my family. I froze a few dozen and left a dozen out for the kids to enjoy. Two batches of the below dough gave me about 6 dozen assorted shapes; gingerbread people, Christmas trees and hearts.

*Rules for a successful cookie exchange

- Each invitee must bake one type of cookie for sharing (not a mixture of cookies)
- Cookies are to be packaged in one dozen units
- Bake an extra dozen to be sampled at the party
- The host must share the final RSVP numbers. This will determine how many dozen to bake (10 guests = 11 dozen cookies)
- Prepare for an afternoon of fun!


Gingerbread Dough (Adapted from Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Snowflakes)

Ingredients

Yield 2-3 dozen depending on size of cookie cutters

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

Royal Icing (recipe at the bottom of this post)
Mixture of sprinkles



Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.


Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses.


Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Space an inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes until crisp but not darkened (start checking around 12 minutes. All depends on your oven). 


Let cool for 1-2 minutes on baking sheet and transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. 


After you have baked what feels like a million cookies, it's time to ice them all! Using the royal icing recipe below, place the icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Dip or sprinkle small sprinkles or candy into the wet icing. Wait 5 minutes and them tap to remove excess. Let icing set at room temperature, approx. 1 hour. 


The last thing to do is package all these little treasures. I found this amazing gingerbread house boxes and "Merry Christmas" waxed paper at Dollar Tree and they made the perfect container for giving cookies at the cookie exchange.



Our cookie exchange, hosted by White Cabana, was an afternoon filled with good food and drink, good conversation and catching up, and lots of cookies to take home to our families! Kendra sent me a video of her adorable nephew eating one of the gingerbread people later that night and it warmed my heart! Kids and cookies, you can't go wrong! 

We are almost to the end of our December #CTLCookieExchange, next Wednesday will be our last of the season. I hope you have had a chance to bake a few of our past cookies, lime meltaways, M&M sugar cookies, Hershey peanut butter blossoms, or raspberry oatmeal bars and if you haven't you still have time to bake something to share with friends and family on Christmas day. Time to get baking! 


Royal Icing (Food Network recipe)

4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups confectioners' sugar

In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. *Contains raw eggs*
  1. Aw. The little people are so darn cute...and yummy. No need for them to hang off the mug...I'd eat them too quickly anyway.

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