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Don't Forget the Frosting

Spice up Christmas with gingerbread

Finally, it is the Christmas season again. We have strung lights, decorated fireproofed trees and are madly preparing for finals. Although one of these things is not like the others, it all fits perfectly into the end of fall semester. While break seems so close and yet so far away, in just a few days we will all be able to do laundry for free and sleep in a bed that is not elevated over a messy desk.

Before then, however, I encourage you to pull yourself out from underneath the pile of notes and textbooks you are hiding under and bake Christmas cookies. Taking a little time to celebrate the season with friends will be well worth it. Plus, gingerbread cookies are notoriously effective study snacks for when you tackle that last bit of reading. So turn up the Christmas music and preheat the oven, it’s time to deck the residence halls with the aroma of freshly baked gingerbread.

All photos by Christine Chan/THE CHIMES

Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking”
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with oil or cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the molasses. Mix until combined, then scrape down the bowl again. If you do not have a mixer, this can be done by hand with a rubber spatula. Just microwave the butter until it is soft enough to beat by hand, but not melted.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a large bowl. Add to the butter and sugar mixture along with the water and mix until the dough comes together. If you are not using a mixer, do this with a rubber spatula, or by hand. If it appears dry and crumbly after mixing for a couple minutes, add water in one-tablespoon increments until a homogenous dough is formed.

Lightly dust a counter with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 – 1/2 inch, depending on how you prefer your cookies: thinly rolled dough yields crunchier cookies, thicker dough will make softer cookies.

You can use a rolling pin or any other cylindrical shaped object, like a tall glass, to do this. Use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes your heart desires.

Place the cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes; use the longer cooking time for thicker cookies.

Let cool, then decorate with royal icing as you please. Eat with hot cocoa, apple cider or eggnog next to a roaring fireplace and have a merry Christmas.

Royal Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons liquid pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Food coloring; liquid or gel

Beat the powdered sugar with the egg whites and lemon juice with an electric mixer until smooth. Add food coloring and stir in until combined.

Use gel food coloring to achieve deeper colors; adding more than a few drops of liquid food coloring will thin out the frosting.

Pour the icing into a piping bag, or a plastic food storage bag with the corner cut off, to decorate the cookies.

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