Friday, December 14, 2012

Award Winning Gingerbread Cookies

Long ago and far away, I won Best of Show at the Virginia State Fair for this recipe. These are festive cookies for a festive time of year! I got this recipe from the book, Festive Gingerbreads by Evelyn Howe Fryatt. Here is the recipe:

Hansel & Gretel Gingerbread Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Start with melting the shortening. Now I know this stuff isn't healthy, but I only make these cookies around Christmas so our exposure to hydrogenated oil is limited to the 1/2 cup once a year. The cookies do taste better with the shortening rather than a substitute oil. I use Crisco.

Stir together the melted shortening, sugar and molasses. You can use either dark or light molasses. We like the flavor of molasses so I always use the dark.

Combine these ingredients well. Then add the egg and mix well.

Next, add the dry ingredients. The flour does best if it is sifted.  This makes the flour light and fluffy. Even if you purchase pre-sifted flour, you should sift it for this recipe. It only took me 30 seconds to sift 3 cups of flour. That included getting a piece of freezer paper to place the flour on. (It did not include the time needed to take the picture!)

If you really can't stand the thought of sifting flour, use 2 1/2 cups in the recipe. Use the entire 3 cups if you sift the flour. Add all the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well.

FYI, I did not use whole wheat flour for this recipe. I have in years past, and these cookies taste very good with whole wheat flour. However, I didn't win the award with whole wheat flour so I didn't use it here.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. I wrapped the dough in the same piece of freezer paper that I used to sift the flour (after I poured the leftover flour back into the flour bag). The colder the dough, the better. I placed mine in the freezer.

When the dough is chilled, sprinkle parchment paper with a light dusting of flour before you roll out the cookies. The dough is quite sticky. Keeping the dough well chilled also keeps it from sticking to everything. Once you cut a piece off to roll out, put the rest back in the freezer to keep it cold.

If you don't want to bother with chilling the dough, you will need to dust the parchment paper and cookie cutters well before working with the dough.  For a cold dough, the picture shows about how much dusting you will need.

I used a gingerbread man cookie cutter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

If you would like you can add frosting as well. (They really don't need it.) When I frost them, I use a fast hard-drying royal icing mix.  I am sure they will taste as good with your favorite frosting mix!

And there you have it, delicious gingerbread cookies! These don't last long at my house!

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