Thursday, December 22, 2011

joyeux noel!


Happy Holidays to everyone! I wish you all a wonderful time with friends and family. Like every year, my parents host Christmas dinner to our whole family and some friends. We're going to be a big bunch this year, but I think that makes it even better. I'm so excited for our traditional Christmas eve brunch before the last day of work and exchange our secret Santa gifts. And then wake up to another big brunch at home before opening gifts on Christmas day. And then inevitably eat some more for the next couple of days!

What are your Christmas traditions?


I must get back to my holiday baking, but for now I leave you with some twinkling lights.

 

Little birdie says: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas (please).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

soft gingerbread cookies: white wonderland


A light sprinkling of snow. That's about all we've gotten lately. Sadly, I don't think it's going to be a white Christmas this year. 


I have to be honest, I don't particularly love winter. It's great sometimes, but the intense cold, ice and strong winds really deter me. But I must admit that it would be nice to have a little bit of snow finally.

There is just something about a white Christmas that makes it so enchanting. Also, snow is quite vital to tobogganing, which I most certainly plan on doing this holiday break. And maybe build a snowman. 

When I think of snow, I always remember my childhood. I used to have so much fun playing for hours with my friends - building forts, huge ice slides and more forts (snowball fights against the boys, perhaps?) Nothing could stop me in my pink one-piece snowsuit, huge mittens, boots and tuque. Those days were priceless and I hope to never forget them.


Hmm maybe I should get myself another pink snowsuit...oooor pull on some waterproof pants and most likely get snow all over myself. Either way, it's fun! 

I really can't wait until Christmas. It's so close yet still seems so far away. Maybe I can finally finish that book I've been reading forever. I also can't wait for some holiday baking but since I don't have much time this year, I decided to make my gingerbread cookies a little early. What better way to get people in the Christmas mood?! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. This will probably be my last recipe post before the holidays. I hope you all have a wonderful time wherever you are and whatever you'll be doing.

Happy Christmas.


Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
* 2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom 

* This time I used fresh ginger. Peel and cut fresh ginger very finely into about 2 tablespoons' worth. It's the first time I've done it and at first I grated it as I read about it online, but that just made it very stringy so I just minced the rest. Fresh ginger is much more potent than ground ginger so you will need more than usual. It give a very definite and delicious spicy taste.

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. Set aside. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the molasses and the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture in batches, beating only until just combined. Turn out dough onto plastic film, wrap and chill for at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the royal icing following these steps. On a floured surface, roll the dough out but not too thin for a puffy and soft cookie. I usually roll it out between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Cut out shapes with desired cookie cutter. With a spatula, set the cookies on a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to darken around edges. Leave to cool on a wire wrack.
Once cookies are cool enough. Pipe out royal icing borders and flood with desired colours. If you want, you can also pipe more decorations on top. Just wait at least 2 hours or overnight for the icing to set. 

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