Gingerbread Cookies and Houses

I love the holiday season for many reasons, food of course happens to be a major one but I also love spending time with my family and seeing friends more frequently and getting together.

I enjoy spending time with the kids in the kitchen and getting them interested in the things I enjoy like cooking and baking. They are still young but never to young to learn about all the good stuff that comes along with Christmas and the holiday season. And learning to cook and bake are life long skills that I know will help them as the get older and eventually have their own families. Wow I feel old just by making that statement!

We try to make gingerbread houses with the kids each year so we have some decorations for the house and also snacks for them for the next week or so to munch on but I have to say I love the aroma of the gingerbread in the house too. I used to bake the gingerbread and then put the house together, back when there was only one child. Then I would take them to Loblaws and make the house there and decorate it, now we get 3 small premade houses and let them ice and decorate, why? Well that's all they really want to do, not to mention that they want to lick their fingers and eat the candy-that is the funnest part!

So after all that, the gingerbread that these houses are built with is tough and not too edible but that is where the gingerbread cookies come into play. I made these gingerbread cookies to rave reviews from the kids and that's all I needed! The dough once baked is not strong enough to build houses but perfect for gingerbread boys and girls with currant eyes and will stand up to being hung on the Christmas tree too. The aroma in the house is amazing and I end up enjoying the cookies with the kids too. This year I think I will send the kids to school with gingerbread to share with their classes and let them enjoy the great flavour and tradition that I hope to continue to share with my kids and their friends. I hope you enjoy it too. Here is the recipe with the Royal Icing that dries beautifully:

Gingerbread Cut-outs

The holidays are not the same unless the house is filled with the aroma of ginger wafting through. You can make simple shapes of stars and boots, but Santas, reindeers and trees are always welcome!

½ cup butter, softened 125 mL
½ cup shortening 125 mL
1 cup packed brown sugar 250 mL
2 eggs 2
1 cup fancy molasses 250 mL
5 cups all-purpose flour 1.25 L
2 tsp ground ginger 10 mL
1 tsp baking soda 5 mL
1 tsp cinnamon 5 mL
½ tsp each nutmeg, 2 mL
cloves and salt

In large bowl, beat butter and shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses.

In another bowl, stir together, flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Using wooden spoon, stir flour mixture into molasses mixture in 2 additions; mix well, using hands if necessary.

Divide dough into 4 discs; wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm. Roll out 1 disc at a time between 2 sheets of waxed paper to ¼ inch thick. Remove top sheet of waxed paper and using cookie cutters cut out shapes. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in 350 F oven for about 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cool on rack.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

To decorate your cookies you can use your favourite icing or this Royal Icing:
2 tbsp meringue powder 25 mL
¼ cup water 50 mL
3 cups icing sugar (approx) 750 mL

In large bowl, beat meringue powder and water until frothy. Beat in icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, for about 3 minutes or until stiff. Cover with damp towel to prevent drying out. Makes about 11/2 cups.

Tip: You can tint the icing with liquid or paste food colouring as you desire. To make icing paint simply remove some of the icing into another bowl and add some more water to make it paint consistency. Use with a brush to paint on cookies.


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