December is time for Gingerbread!

I’m so excited for December to be here and get baking! For a number of years I have had a cookie exchange with family and friends and it’s such a wonderful time to catch up and enjoy some great cookies and have a few moments chatting about everyone’s Christmas plans. But really we are here to eat those cookies! Seems like at no other year does a cookie exchange make sense, although maybe I should change that.

I know for many, baking is not high on their list of to dos, they find it stressful or complicated. Yet for some it is a huge stress reliever. I can’t tell people how to feel or act when they bake, but I am always happy to offer up recipes that may fit what they are looking for. Whether they want something a bit more involved or something easy that will produce great results and share with their family.

I know during this time of year, many traditional holiday cookies are made. In my house there is never a lack of great Italian cookies made by family and friends to enjoy. Every household has their favourites whether they are from the old country or a new recipe that everyone loves, its such a wonderful treat to enjoy this time of year.

One of my favourite flavours and cookies is gingerbread. The aroma and the taste simply says Christmas. Although I do admit I have made it at other times of the year, December always seems to be most fitting for it. My daughter loves gingerbread, she has been known to enjoy the dough before the cookies and she is very sneaky in stealing the dough pieces, but I always know she’s done it, with her little fingerprints always left behind! 

Here are two gingerbread recipes that fit the a little bit complicated and easy category of cookie making. This roll out gingerbread produces a tasty gingerbread cookie that is perfect to eat, decorate or use as ornaments for your tree. If you are looking for a new place card idea for Christmas dinner try using gingerbread and then with icing write everyone’s name. Your guests will be happy to eat their little gift as well! 

Gingerbread Cut-outs

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

Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Cook time: 15 minutes per batch

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1/2 cup (125 mL) shortening
1 cup (250 mL) packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup (175 mL) fancy molasses
5 cups (1.25 L) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each freshly ground nutmeg, ground cloves and salt

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

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

Divide dough into 4 discs; wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until firm. Roll out 1 disc at a time on floured surface to a generous 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick and using cookie cutters cut out shapes. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in 350F oven for about 15 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cool on rack.

Enjoy as is or decorate as desired with icing and candy.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Royal Icing:
1/4 cup (60 mL) pasteurized egg whites 
3 cups icing sugar (approx)

In large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Beat in icing sugar, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, for about 3 minutes or until stiff. Cover with damp towel to prevent drying out. 
Makes about 1-1/2 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.

Now this unique recipe is an easy drop cookie that has a soft flavour of gingerbread that is also enhanced by gingerbread granola. Love Crunch Gingerbread Granola is available in grocery and health food stores usually in the organic section of the store. For every bag you purchase the same amount will be donated to Food Banks Canada in food or cash! What a great gift to give to someone and also have some fun in the kitchen.

Gingerbread Granola Bites

The flavour of gingerbread can be found everywhere this time of year! I have enjoyed using this unique gingerbread granola on it’s own with vanilla yogurt or as part of a trail mix, but I also found it added a unique texture and flavour to this spice cookies, perfect for the hoildays!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 12 minutes per batch

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) all purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1 bag (325 g) gingerbread granola

In a large bowl, beat butter until light. Beat in brown and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Gradually stir into butter mixture until no streaks remain. Stir in granola and stir until combined. 

Using a mini ice cream scoop or tablespoon (15 mL), place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for about 12 minutes or until light golden around edges and still slightly soft in centre. Let cool in pan on rack for a few minutes before removing to let cool completely on rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Freezer Friendly: Scoop out all of the dough and freeze before baking. Place in airtight container or resealable bag. Then simply pull out as many cookie dough pieces as you need to bake fresh cookies. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F (160 C) and bake for about 15 minutes. 


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