Monday, December 20, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies and Houses

I started the tradition of decorating my tree with gingerbread men about 5 years ago. I like that I can throw them away every year and don't have to store (and move!) boxes of breakables. I also like that I don't have to worry if the Monkey breaks or eats any of the ornaments. Plus, it's a cheap, homemade project that gets me in the holiday spirit. KC got me started on gingerbread houses when I lived in Portland and this is her recipe - and it's delicious ;)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
5 cups flour
2 ¼ tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in molasses, eggs, & water. Stir dry ingredients together, then add to liquids. Chill 1 hr. If planning to eat them, roll dough to ¼” thick & cut out. Bake at 375ยบ for 10-12 min. If making for decorations, roll them a little thinner and cook a bit longer so they dry out, but don't burn. They will continue to crisp as they cool.

For houses, design on paper roof and walls with doors with windows cut out. Cut out the paper shapes. Press dough into greased cookie pan with sides, ¼” thick or less, and bake 20 minutes. After removing from oven, immediately cut out house shapes: walls, roof, holes for doors & windows, etc. Loosen shapes from pan. Let sit in pan for 5 min. Take out or turn over to dry bottom of shapes. 

Attach with following frosting recipe: 
2 egg whites
2 tsp water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat egg whites, water and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add powdered sugar. Mix well until stiff. Use within 1 hour or less as it dries quickly. Best used by squeezing out of a frosting tube (or Ziploc bag with corner cut off).

Update: apparently living so close to the beach, combined with all the rain we've had around here lately, made it too humid for these poor things to survive. They all fell off the tree within a day of putting them up! Next year I can try rolling them thinner and cooking them longer but I'm not sure that will solve it if it rains for a solid week again.

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