We are headed to the grandparents in Pennsylvania for the holidays, but like much of family life, the journey has been anything but a linear progression. My office is closed the week before Christmas, and we intended to leave on Sunday. We accelerated our departure, though, because our landlords are renovating an apartment below us, and the fumes from refinishing the floors were making us dizzy (and cold and sick because we had to leave the windows wide open).
We left town on Saturday, but before heading west on I-80, we detoured to a pair of parties in Manhattan, and then headed to my mother’s place north of the city for what was to be just one night.
We arrived at my mother's late, had a rough night because Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria have coughs, and chose to stay an extra day. It was too cold to spend much time outside on Sunday, so Santa Maria decided to make gingerbread dough. When we get to Pennsylvania, we’ll turn the dough into houses, but for now we settled on a few cookies.
Gingerbread Dough and Cookie Recipe from Santa Maria (with her notes)
We only had a default 'boy' shape cutter and the girls were dismayed so I pinched some triangles of dough around the hips and other, tiny ones on the head et voila! Gingerbread girls with hair and dresses! (At our apartment in Brooklyn we have a tiny matched set, a gingerbread girl and boy, but not at SaSD's family home). Some we glazed with a simple confectioner's sugar frosting (mix in a bit of milk and spread on cooled cookies), others left plain for the more puritanical.
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter (room temperature, softened)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 T ground ginger
- 1 T ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- dash of ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins in the center of each cookie if desired for eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons on torso.
Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.