Cookies run rampant around the holiday season. Everyone seems to get into a baking mood, and you begin to see sugar cookies, meringues, and rum balls everywhere you go.
Fancy schmancy kinds of cookies are good, but the classics are the best. One of my all-time favorites is the gingerbread cookie. As they bake, gingerbread cookies seep the house with spicy holiday scents. And if you're like me, with one bite, you are suddenly transported back to your childhood Christmases.
I made these cookies last week for a holiday party. After chilling the dough in the refrigerator, I rolled the dough, cut out the shapes with cookie cutters, and baked them in the oven. Guests at the party decorated their own cookies, and gobbled them up while sipping apple cider and playing Christmas trivia. The few leftover cookies were finished during the drive to my in-laws' house. Yummm.
Gingerbread Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool. Makes about 30 cookies.
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. Transfer to a small plastic zip-lock bag. Cut a tiny hole at one of the corners of the bag, and pipe icing onto cookies.