Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Cookie Days

Cookies are the food stars of the holidays. Every food magazine in December features beautiful shots of cookies and their corresponding recipes. Every family has a holiday tradition that revolves around cookies, whether it's leaving freshly baked treats for Santa, or hosting cookie exchange parties with friends. As an annual Yuletide ritual, I make the same ginger-molasses cookie every year. It's not the most popular cookie in my household, but to me it is synonymous with Christmas, and it's one of my favorites. My mother's Grandmother, Veronica Townsend (after whom I was named) used to make these for my mother, who then used to make these for me. Someday, I'll make these for my grandkids.

I made a batch of these yesterday, along with some classic chocolate chip cookies for my husband. I thought I might try to experiment and "Christmas them up" by taking a bit of the dough and adding some peppermint extract and crushed candy canes. Not a good idea. I've never baked candy canes in cookies before, but apparently they become a chewy, sticky, red-and-white-runny mess. So I nixed that operation. I still have a lot of candy canes in my possession for test creations, so maybe I'll try something else (being careful not to add them as garnish until after baking).

Recipe for Grandma Veronica's Ginger-Molasses Cream Cookies:

Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup of butter (softened, but still a little cold)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Stir in:

  • 1 tsp of baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water

Sift together these dry ingredients, then mix them into the wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Heat the oven to 400 degrees, and chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Drop rounded teaspoons full about 2" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until set, about 7-8 minutes. While the cookies are still a little warm, frost with icing.

How to make icing: Stir together 3/4 cup of powdered sugar with 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp of cream.

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