Saturday, December 5, 2009
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies( as seen on my kitchen cafe)
*Makes about 2 dozen gingerbread men*
3 cups (15 ounces) flour
¾ cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature (but not warm!), cut into 12 pieces
¾ cup light or dark molasses
2 tablespoons milk
With an electric mixer, stir together the flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the butter pieces. Mix at medium-low speed until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and with the mixer running, gradually add the molasses and milk; mix until the dough is evenly moistened about 20 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface and divide it in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough ¼ inch thick between 2 large sheets of parchment or wax paper. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment or wax paper, stack the dough on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or overnight.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
Remove one dough sheet from the freezer and place on the counter. Peel off the top parchment or wax paper sheet. Gently cut the dough into 5-inch gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, transferring the shapes to the prepared baking sheets with a wide metal spatula and spacing them ¾ inch apart. Set the scraps aside. Repeat with the remaining dough until the baking sheets are full. Because flour is not added during rolling, dough scraps can be rolled and cut as many times as necessary.
Bake the cookies until set in the centers and the dough barely retains and imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 9 minutes. Do not overbake!! Cool the cookies on the sheets 2 minutes, then remove the cookies with a wide metal spatula to a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Gather the scraps; repeat the rolling, cutting and baking. Frost as desired (I used simple white icing).
Store soft gingerbread in a wide, shallow airtight container or tin with a sheet of parchment paper between the cookie layers. These cookies are best eaten within one week.