Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's a snap!

There's just something about the holiday's that drive me into the kitchen and get my baking blood flowing. It's usually cookies that I crank out, but there is also room in my heart for cakes, pies, casseroles--all things oven I love to turn out. The aroma of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, can liven up the hardest and coldest of hearts and turn them from brown, dreary, bah humbugs to happy, holiday embracing souls.

The only problem I have with gingersnap cookies is the...snap...part of it all. I'm just not a fan of crunchy cookies, which might put me in the minority. I prefer soft, delicate, tender cookies that have some chew to them. I wanted to search out a cookie for gingersnaps that I could make soft and chewy. My search ended in the hills of Missouri at Silver Dollar City. They have a new culinary school and do cooking demonstrations in a fabulous kitchen. The demonstrations always sell out before I get a chance to purchase my turn ($10 per session), it will happen one day. One of the feature recipes demonstrated is a Ginger Cookie. A little searching on the Internet led me to the recipe.

I knew I wanted to make a soft cookie and I knew I wanted it to be frosted. After a reading about 100-200 cookie recipes this season I decided to frost my soft ginger cookies with royal icing. Kendra and I use royal icing for our gingerbread houses and it makes a great glue when dry. I find it not too sweet, but just the right amount of sweet.

I had all of the ingredients together and was about to take a picture when my helper showed up and was super excited to help. Levi is one of my favorite cooking partners, he's getting very good at his skills even for 3. He loves to cook with his Mom and me. I didn't really have time to get a picture because he was ready NOW to help.

Ginger Cookies
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar (plus some for rolling dough)
1/8 teaspoons cloves
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon ginger
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add shortening and sugar together mixing until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg, vanilla, milk, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, mixing until combined. Add flour, and mix to combine.

Using a spring loaded scoop, dispense dough and roll balls into sugar. Arrange on parchment lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes. 10 minutes yields the soft chewy kind. Remove to a cooling rack and frost with royal icing when cool. Should yield 3 dozen.
Royal Icing
2 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound of Powdered Sugar (2 cups)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, add water and meringue powder with vanilla. Mix on low. Sift powdered sugar and add to mixer bowl. Increase speed to medium, scraping down sides, and whip until soft peaks form (just barley holds the curl). Remove to bowl and frost.

This will make a lot of icing, so you could easily cut this in half and not have a much. Meringue powder is a nifty little addition to your baking pantry. It will last for quite a while, we've had ours for two years and it's just fine. You can find this powder where cake decorating supplies are sold, and it will be by the decorating section (I know Wal-Mart super centers carry this powder).

These cookies were soft, chewy, had a tremendous flavor and when topped with this smooth, creamy, sweet frosting it was just too much. If you love the taste of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves then give these a try. So good.

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