While Pete was in town, she requested that we make some cookies for her bf in Tokyo. So how many people does it take to make a batch of Reese's Pieces Cookies? Four girls, one of them almost 8 months preggers, slaving away in the kitchen all day. Mr. BF better appreciate! Well, Pete did most of the baking with those cookies, we were just the taste testers. =)
My friend Mary had previously requested a batch of gingerbread cookies so we decided to make those and regular chocolate chip cookies as well. We decided to start with the gingerbread cookies first since it required rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes and later decorating them.
The Gourmet Cookbook
makes about 4 dozen cookies
2/3 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
Decorating icing (see below)
Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325 F. Butter two large baking sheets.
Combine molasses, brown sugar and spices in a 4- to 5- quart heavy saucepan (you'll be putting all the flour in here so make sure you use a big enough saucepan) and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up), then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next. Add egg and stir until combined, then stir in salt and 3 3/4 cups flour.
I was busy running around trying to find a rolling pin, so my friends did most of the baking in this one. I was lucky enough to just get in a few pictures here and there. Here's a picture of the dough coming together.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Halve dough, then wrap one half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
Roll out remaining dough on lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin (I used a wine bottle wrapped in plastic wrap because I couldn't find my rolling pin) into a 14-inch round. Cut out as many cookies as possible with cutters. Here's a picture of us going at it.
Carefully transfer, preferably with an offset spatula, the cookies to buttered baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. That's a mini gingerbread man and a little boot.
Here's a picture of a gingerbread family on another cookie sheet.
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes (watch carefully toward end of baking, as cookies burn easily).
The cookies puff up a bit, but not by much. We played around with different thicknesses and we thought the thicker cookies looked and tasted better. A glowing gingerbread man.
Transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps (reroll once).
Put icing in pastry bags (or zip lock bags with one end cut off) and pipe decoratively onto cookies, or spread icing on cookies. Let the icing set.
Here's a gingerbread baby in diapers and a little boot that wonster decorated.
The Gourmet Cookbook
makes about 3 cups
1 (1-pound) box or 4 cups of confectioners' sugar
4 teaspoons powdered egg whites
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)
Beat together all ingredients except food coloring in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat icing, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until it holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer, 4 to 5 minutes with a handheld mixer. Beat in food coloring, if using. If you plan to spread rather than pipe icing on cookies, stir in more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency.
Since I had my handy dandy cake decorating kit, we made several different colors of frosting and got to piping. My friends had a ball with decorating as you can see.
J did a little family of gingerbread cookies. I love the tie and his smile.
We were almost done decorating all the cookies (some appropriate and others not - wonster!!) until we realized that we would be sending these cookies to my friend Mary. So wonster made a nice cookie especially for her.
It was so much fun. And the best part is that the cookies were really good. I thought the icing would be way too sweet, but the lemon really brings out the flavor of the spicy cookies. I literally had to pack these away in boxes to ship so I wouldn't eat anymore.
Now, I've saved my favorite cookie for last. I've fondly named him "Gingerbread Man Slimed in His Sleep." He didn't even have a chance to crack a smile, he just got buried in frosting. I love it.