The holidays would be rather dull without the sugar-goggles innocently donned by plain old-fashioned cookie consumption. I am no different, although I may try to sneak in some white whole wheat flour (or even whole wheat flour), alternative sweeteners (molasses and honey), and the occasional veggie or fruit. The beauty of sharing the holidays with people other than my parents is that I get to try new cookie recipes that would otherwise take a backseat to the usual Thumbprints and Spritz (although this year I’ve been told my family is trying quite a few delicious new cookie recipes… figures). First on the list is Gingerbread People, which turned out more like the physicist’s approximation of cows (that is, circles) due to a lack of holiday-themed cookie cutters. Unfortunately the gingerbread circular cows were eaten before they could pose for my camera, but we remade the recipe in a double-batch to use for our 2nd Annual Gingerbread Non-House (last year was the Parthenon).
Gingerbread People (or for a gingerbread house)
(makes 14 medium people-shaped cookies)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 egg, beaten
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the butter, sugar, molasses, and white vinegar in a saucepan and bring just to a boil and then take off the heat. When the mixture is cool, add the egg and then the dry ingredients (flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt). Mix the dough well and wrap it in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for a couple hours. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut the dough into shapes using cookie cutters, knives, or circular plastic containers. Place the cut cookie dough on greased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
Second on the list are simple sugar cookies, also made in the shape of circular cows. I was sneaky this time and hid them away to take a couple photographs before leaving them to be devoured on the counter.
Plain Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
(From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies)
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon milk
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and vanilla together and then add the sugar. Add the eggs in individually, incorporating each one in fully. Add the milk and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and add them slowly to the wet ingredients. Divide the dough into two portions and chill each wrapped in parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the chilled dough to 1/8th – 1/4th inch thick and cut cookies using cookie cutters, knives, or plastic containers (to make circles). Bake the cut cookie dough on ungreased baking sheets for 8-12 minutes depending on the cookie’s size. Keep a watchful eye if you like your sugar cookies barely cooked, as they will brown quickly. Decorate with sprinkles or pretty sugars before baking, or ice the baked cookies with festive designs.