The 2020 Holidays Recipe Collection
How you doin’? A couple of years ago we were asked to create a line of holiday gingerbread houses. We researched gingerbread houses, people and even Old Saint Nick himself to their origins. We learned the history and found quite a few good recipes as well. This is the recipe we went with.
Gingerbread cookies should not be just for the holiday; they are great to munch on all-year ‘round. Unfrosted gingerbread cookies can even be crushed and used for cookie crumb crusts for special cheesecakes.
The first documented commercial trade of gingerbread “biscuits” in England dates back to the 17th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and town square farmers' markets. In England, gingerbread was thought to have medicinal properties. They were kind of a rough crude cookie… nothing that would be acceptable in today’s market.
In the 16th century, the English had replaced the breadcrumbs with fine-milled flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter, tastier cookie. The first gingerbread “man” is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who surprised visiting dignitaries by presenting them with gingerbread men baked and decorated in their own likeness. Then she would bite their heads off—only kidding. Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
In the story the Gingerbread Man, he springs out of the oven alive and is transformed from a piece of gingerbread to a live, gingerbread man. Thus, an inanimate object springs to life, signaling the desire the woman has for a child. Awww… isn’t that cute?
Moving right along… Gingerbread Houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. It is unclear whether gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.
Gingerbread houses are quite edible, and absolutely delicious. You have to eat it, because it will turn moldy and lose its flavor the older it gets. That is, unless you're participating in a contest, in which case eating the house would be ill-advised until you receive your prize!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 3 hours
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes
Decorating time: allow 30 to 60 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
For the cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light molasses (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
For the icing
2 cups powdered sugar
6 to 7 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
To bake the cookies
ChefSecret: Handle the dough as little as possible and work quickly so the warmth of your hands doesn't soften it too much.
Special Note: If making Mr. or Mrs. Claus gingerbread cookies, the colors will be red and black for suits, hats and eyes. Leave majority of frosting white for beards, hair and fur.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “Kids would be a lot cooler if every time they shouted “MOM,” it was followed by, “You’re Awesome,” “Thanks For Keeping Me Well-Fed,” “Thanks For Home Schooling Me During These Difficult Times,” “Thanks For Keeping Me Alive!” Just kind of dreaming, I guess.
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Here is wishing you the very best for the upcoming holidays. To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind welcoming in the holiday season. If you have a little extra in your pockets to share with others at this difficult time, please consider donating to Feeding America. Thank you for reading.
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, Inc., 2020
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