Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Alright, I know I said I was going to take a break for a few days, but I just couldn't resist this one. After this, I promise, it will be a few days until I post again.
This is my gingerbread Christmas tree. Make sure you have some time on your hands before you make this. It takes a little while to put it all together, but it's well worth the time and it's a lot of fun.

Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for icing)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • In a mixer bowl or a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Then stir in the molasses and egg yolk.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Slowly fold it into the butter mixture in three batches. Mix until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into stars using cookie cutters. You will need different sized cookie cutters. Cut two cookies of each size. Place cookies two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Try to put similar sized cookies on the sheet so that they bake evenly.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the sheet for a minute or two before removing to a wire rack. Decorate when completely cool.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (you can substitute vanilla extract or lemon extract)

  • Whip egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and almond extract. Beat on high until thickened. Icing is ready when it forms stiff peaks. Keep covered if not in use, otherwise it will dry out and harden.

  • In a separate bowl, add a few drops of yellow food colouring to a spoonful of icing. Use this to cover the smallest star.
  • Reserve about 1/4 cup of the icing for use as snow. Keep covered.
  • Add green food colouring to the rest of the icing until it has reached the desired shade of green. Cover the remaining cookies with the icing and allow it to dry and harden.
  • Once the cookies have been frosted, starting with the largest star, place a dab of icing in the centre and stack the next cookie on top so that the points of the top star are over the spaces of the bottom star. Continue until all green cookies are stacked.
  • Using the green icing, place 2 small dabs of icing on top of the top-most cookie to secure the yellow star on top, standing up. (See photo)
  • Using the white icing, drizzle icing on the tips of each star, adding a mini M&M candy to the top of the drizzle as an ornament.
  • Allow to fully dry before transporting or eating.